New Rescue Wants to Kill My Cats - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-15-2014, 05:51 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy New Rescue Wants to Kill My Cats

I am hoping someone can give me some advice concerning my cat aggressive GSD. First, I will give you some background info. Recently we adopted a third dog into our household. Prior to the adoption we had 1 gsd and a gsd mix. Both dogs have been living with my three cats. They get along fine with the cats. My GSD Max was 7 years old when I brought a kitten into our house. The kitten was part of a feral colony. Had Max had an adverse reaction I would not have forced the issue. I was not set on having cats at the time. Max had not been a fan of cats -at least those who came in his yard. I knew there was a reasonable chance he would not want one in the house. With that being said, I introduced them and told Max that the kitten was mine. That was that. Perhaps it was little too simple, but 4 years later I have 2 more cats and he knows those cats are mine as well.

Ruby, our mix, came from a rescue as a puppy. She was also introduced to the cats without issue. Apparently I have just had tremendous luck. Anyhow, a month ago my luck ran out. We adopted a new dog named Magnus. Magnus is 10 months old. I asked if Magnus had been around cats. The rescue said they were not sure but he seemed to love other animals so they thought he would be fine. I should not have eagerly accepted that as an answer, but I was stupid and I did.

When I introduced Magnus to one of our cats, he lost his mind. He growled, barked, lunged and did everything he could to get to the cat. He was on a leash at the time, but the experience was horrible. The cat I introduced him to is an absolute dog lover. Now that cat is scared to death of him. Since then we have been trying to work with him so that he is use to seeing the cats. Only one cat will stay in a room with him, and that is only because she is deaf. When we have him spend time around the cats, either he is in the kennel and they roam free, or they are in a cat carrier and he is on a leash. This has been going on for weeks. At times I feel we are making progress. Sometimes it feels like an exercise in futility. When we are not doing one of our cat sessions, the cats are in the basement.

I am starting to think this situation is beyond help. At times,he is relatively calm when seeing the cats. But if one of them moves to suddenly, he loses his mind all over again. When we put the cats away, it is if he is on the hunt for them. He claws our closed doors barking and growling as if there is something behind them (like a cat) he wants to get to. He jumps baby gates to get into our back room where I keep the cat carriers and then he attacks the cat carriers. At one point, my son took a cat into his room for a brief period. While the cat is no longer there, the dog can smell its scent and attacks my son's bedroom door. I am incredibly frustrated to say the least.

We are doing obedience training. I am working with him daily. He is a very kind and loving dog in every other possible way, but when it comes to cats he is a terror. Has anyone else had a similar experience? I have had quite a few people tell me their dog has chased cats. This dog does not simple wish to chase them. I am hoping someone else here has a reformed cat killer living in their house and can give me some tips. Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-15-2014, 06:08 PM
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Have you worked on the leave it command? My male was a little younger then yours and he did the same thing. I have several cats, to this day one of them dislikes Midnite and once he starts hissing it gets Midnite going. The cats pretty much decide everything in the house. Them running also start a commotion, but he knows leave it and that has worked. Now if he is laying down and one of them come to him and rub up against him, he is fine. I have found having him on a leash is the worst thing. A gate to separate them has worked well, because they are still able to smell each other through the gate. Midnite also has a ball in his mouth most of the time which helps him. If he starts to chase one of them I tell him leave it and get your ball, his ball is the most important thing to him and he will take the ball over the cat everytime .

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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-15-2014, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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We have not worked on leave it yet. I guess I can try and see if that helps. My husband is a police officer and the k9 handler thinks we should try an e-collar. I am willing to try just about anything but I am going to exhaust all other options before going to an e-collar. Hopefully something works. The hardest part of this is the stress my cats are under. I really hate making them parade around Magnus when he is acting like a loon. And what makes it worse is that they are very unhappy living in the basement. It is not a long term solution. I need this dog to get along with the cats.

In the meantime, I am going to watch some dog training videos on Youtube and see if we can't work on leave it. Thank you for getting back to me.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-15-2014, 07:54 PM
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There is only one rule in cat dog relationships:

The dog chase the cat "NEVER!" You need to make it Crystal Clear to the dog that chasing a cat is an "extremely unrewarding activity!" So far it sounds like that has not happened?

Yes an E collar properly used will deliver that message in a less hands on manner.

If you still want to shoot for a subtle and understanding approach you could try this:
Introducing Your New Dog to Your Resident Cat

And here:
Leerburg | Introducing Dogs or Puppies into Homes with Cats

Introducing Shepherd to cats

My GSD gave me "issue" with my 85 lbs BullMastiff/APBT/Lab mix!! But the 14, 8 to 14 lb cats...uh 'NO!"

I have lived with up to 5 dogs and 16 cats for more than 14 years and in all that time, I have never had a single cat dog incident! That "law" is laid down from day one!
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-15-2014, 08:16 PM
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My honest opinion is to return the dog to the rescue. This is very unsafe situation. I have done a lot if rescue/rehab work. And have reformed some dogs, to the cats, but none ever had the violent reactions it sounds like your dog is having.

I would never trust this dog with the cats.

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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-15-2014, 08:40 PM
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Originally Posted by gsdsar View Post
My honest opinion is to return the dog to the rescue. This is very unsafe situation. I have done a lot if rescue/rehab work. And have reformed some dogs, to the cats, but none ever had the violent reactions it sounds like your dog is having.

I would never trust this dog with the cats.

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Most likely that is the best advice! The "hard correction" that dog needs...can bring about a whole new set of "issues" to an owner with which the dog has no bond???

Some dogs don't take kindly to "hard corrections" from leaders they don't respect!
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-15-2014, 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by gsdsar View Post
My honest opinion is to return the dog to the rescue. This is very unsafe situation. I have done a lot if rescue/rehab work. And have reformed some dogs, to the cats, but none ever had the violent reactions it sounds like your dog is having.

I would never trust this dog with the cats.

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I agree completely. It is not safe for your cats. Magnus sounds like a dog who would thrive in a home without cats. This isn't your fault, or his fault. It is just a bad match.

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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-16-2014, 09:59 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you everyone for your replies.

Chip18, I initially introduced the dog on the leash. When he acted so horribly I went to the internet looking for another way. I came across the leerburg article and we began putting him in the kennel and allowing the cats to come out. I sprayed him with a water bottle as suggested in the article. There were a couple of times he calmed down briefly. For the most part he wailed, barked, growled and just carried on. In the article he states this could take months. Perhaps I should have continued for months but I don't feel like I have months. I am very conflicted because if he doesn't change he will go back to the rescue. I feel like the longer I have him here, the harder it will be for him to go off to another home.

So after a couple of weeks without substantial progress I decided to put him on a leash and put a cat in one of the carriers. I had read several places that sometimes confining the dog made them more anxious. So I thought we would try something new. Once again he acted crazy. He desperately tried to attack the cat carrier. After maybe 20 minutes we were able to get him to walk past the cat carrier over and over without attacking it. I breathed a sigh of relief. I thought this was progress. But I no more than put the cat and the cat carriers away and let him off leash when he decided to hunt for the cat. Prior to this he was going to the doors. But when he jumped the baby gate and attacked the cat carrier, it really upset me. In my mind our little cat session was over. It ended quite well. It obviously was far from over for him.

llombardo suggested that I work on the leave it command. I started working with him on this last night. I will keep working on it until he gets it. I just don't know if this will override his desire to get the cats.

The cat carrier situation really has me bothered. I really thought he was getting it. I felt like it ended on a high note. Now I think I will never be able to turn my back because while he might act like he understands, the first chance he gets, he is going to go after those cats. Since that experience, we are back to the kennel cage. And he has tried to get to the cat carriers a few more times since then.

I am going to keep at it for now, but if he doesn't show some progress in the next couple of weeks or even month, I think I will have to take him back. I hate that because really he would be such a great dog if it weren't for the fact we have cats. I love my cats just as much as the dogs so no one gets the boot because Magnus can't fall in line.

gsdar & stevenzachsmom, you are probably right. This dog and his cat issue maybe more than I and my family can handle. Also, I have reservations about using hard corrections with this dog. He is really sweet (aside from hating cats) BUT I don't know that he has bonded with any of us. He really likes our dog Ruby but I don't feel like he is connected with us. I don't even know how to describe it, but the relationship we have with him is not like the other 2 dogs. Granted they have been here a lot longer, but as far as Max and Ruby are concerned they are more interested in the family than they are in each other. Magnus is more interested in the other 2 dogs than he is with us. I am afraid we will turn a sweet dog into a mean dog in order to get any compliance with the cats. I don't know if that makes sense, but that is my fear.

My last ditch effort maybe to have an animal behaviorist come to our house. Has anyone had any success with behaviorists?

Thank you all for your advice. I really appreciate it. This has been a roller coaster of emotions for me. I will keep plugging away and if it is not meant to be I am going to have to make peace with it.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-16-2014, 11:37 AM
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I always had dogs/cats together. A few years ago we brought home a tiny kitten that one of my dogs seriously wanted to kill. It took me about 6 months to change her mind. It would be easier to send the dog back but if you want to make it work it will take a lot of effort.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-17-2014, 04:41 AM
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Hiya Seasiren

I have 5 Savannah cats and 2 Burmese cats. I had 2 GSD's living with all of them until recently until my 14 year old male GSD passed away.

My house is a mish mosh mash up of when everyone joined, so there have definitely been adjustment periods. Dogs getting used to each other, dog getting used to a cat, 2, 5, 7 cats. Savannah cat kicking dog bootay.. dog taking it, male Burmese cat falling in love with female GSD and practically pulling a Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction with this poor dog daily, literally chasing her from room to room to roll over her nose and fall over her head.

Like drops in the water bowl... these are the days of our lives...

We have 1 big girl Savannah that hates everyone, dog, cat, and person, except me. I have worked with some real doozies. My girl GSD came to me because she'd bit a child and was dumped in a shelter. I've had no issue with her. I don't put her in situations where that will ever happen again, but she's been work. I have another Savannah that was bought by someone and then basically abandoned in an attic for a year of his life, sick with a parasite that cause horrific diarrhea, and required chemo meds to treat. He didn't get treatment till I found him and got him out of the attic. He was a nightmare. He terrorized the other animals, dogs, cats, us too. Plain mean..more Serval than domestic cat. It took me over a year, but today, you wouldn't recognize him, physically or emotionally/mentally. He head-butts everyone, dogs and cats too for love, cuddles with everyone when sleeping and no longer fears the litter box (it held pain to use it).

To make it short, all of pets are purebred, but they didn't come from the hottest of situations and all but 4 have required rehabilitation and medical intervention. My newest girl.. the big Savannah F-2, I've had almost 2 years, I just stopped bleeding upon interacting with her 7 months ago. My husband and son, cannot even think about getting near her without hawk gloves on, and her claws do get through those. I can now pick her up for 5 minutes at a time, 3 times a day, and get licks on my cheek every time I walk into her room. It's slow, but it's progress.

Many people have told me to give up and put her down as being "too" Serval, and I just can't do it. I'm in it, and she won't be put down for simply being what she was bred to be, then not properly raised. I got her at 2 years of age, Savannahs mature at 3, so I hope I'm helping. I'll keep on keepin' on.

It sounds like you're doing everything you can humanely do, and then even doing more. Keep us updated, but for what it's worth, sometimes it takes alot longer, and then sometimes, it doesn't matter how much time you put in, it will never be enough. I hope it works, because that dog would be so lucky to have you.
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