How to get this neglected/mistreated trouble GSD to warm up with my cats?? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-19-2013, 12:52 AM Thread Starter
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How to get this neglected/mistreated trouble GSD to warm up with my cats??

Hi guys! Thanks a lot for viewing my question!

So my boyfriend is thinking about moving out of his parents' place and in with me, hopefully ASAP. The reason we want this to happen ASAP is because his parents' female GSD, which we love dearly and try to take care of whenever it's possible, has been living in neglection and not properly treated for most of her life (roughly 3 years). I'll explain the details later.

My problem is, I have 2 adult indoor cats (1 Maine Coon mix, 1 DMH) that will be living under the same roof with the pup. They are human friendly but never tested with dogs. The poor pup has all kinds of behavioral issues due to her life with my bf's parents, despite the fact she's extremely friendly with human. She'd freak out, bark non stop, pee herself all over out of excitement and chase whatever animal in her sight till oblivion, to the point the two of us TOGETHER are not able to hold her down. I afraid that even if we re-housebreak her, she'll still have much trouble living with the cats.
We first thought about keeping them in separate areas of the house, with the cats having private access to the bedroom area, the pup gets privilege to the backyard/lobby/whatever, and sharing (monitored) the living room and kitchen (and office if we have one) area where at night the pup will be sleeping. However he got really upset because he felt like it's too unfair to the pup to not have access to the beds. We eventually came to mutual agreement on the door method, but I fear it wouldn't work because she seems..... Impossible to stay calm at the sight of another animal, and she can easily destroy any door.
I'm wondering if anyone has come across a GSD that's extremely hard to handle, or ever trained an adult GSD to get used to adult cats. I don't want anyone to end up in the shelter nor do I want my cats to ever be outside. If the pup ends up in the shelter they might put her down immediately since she's always so excited that sometimes it seems aggressive, but really she's just too overwhelmed. She never really attacks anyone. We don't know any GSD rescue around this area either and my bf loves her too much to give her away.

Regarding how the pup is mistreated, I don't want to say bad things about my bf's parents since they're nice to me and respect me, just not the same story to their animal. So i'm only going to state the facts.
His parents established firm discipline that no one under their roof should give much about the dog, since they still believe all dogs should live the kind of life similar to that of a barn cat. No occasional walking (backyard roaming only), no house entry regardless of weather, minimum grooming and vaccination, wholesale dog food mixed with human leftover, toys only serve to shut her up, avoid touching as much as possible since "it's dirty". All they permit to happen is daily feeding and water, and poop scooping to keep her area clean, maybe bathing if she begins to smell really bad during summer. The pup is a giant love bug she's a pet from nose to tail not a guard, but we cannot do much while his parents are extremely stubborn and dominating over their household issues. His dad even tried to hit her with a car once he got tired of her barking at 4am in the morning, and my bf ended up sleeping in the backyard with her for nights to calm her down just so she wouldn't get killed. They used to have a great guard dog who passed away at an old age to much neglect. They are very nice and loving to other people's pets though, which we don't exactly understand.
Her previous owner (who sold her to my bf's parents when she was 6 mo) used to take her to training, and to this day she still kind of remember a few commands (sit, up, down, off), only she doesn't care much since the reinforcement is long gone. She also completely forgot how to walk on a leash, which makes it even harder for us to tired her out.

My expertise loves with cats and I dogs equally but cluelessly. Please please please if you have experience with training a misbehaving GSD with a history of neglect, or training adult cats and dogs to warm up with each other, any help would be much appreciated!! Thanks a lot!!

Last edited by MaggieRoseLee; 12-19-2013 at 11:17 AM.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-19-2013, 07:55 AM
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Here's some tips on walking a dog or training it to walk on leash.
Tyler Muto - YouTube

When you practice some of these techniques you can will have more of a chance to control the dog with the cats.

It is not so wrong how your bf's parents are keeping the dog. It gets food and shelter and is not chained up. But I believe a dog needs daily walks and clear leadership and enjoys living indoors with it's people.

Some people have just have strange attitudes to dogs.

I would take my time with a dog like that and introduce things to it slowly so as not to over whelm it. You can easily carry issues into the new environment like barking when left alone or separation anxiety.

Basically research dog behavior as much as possible. Try to instill calmness into the dog when you greet it. And then he will start to associate you with calmness.
I really liked Cesar's Way by Cesar Millan. It is a good book for people with not a lot of experience with dogs. Watch any of his shows and see how he walks in and greets dogs. He presents calm energy not sound or eye contact or touch.

Most people who don't know dogs so good will go to a dog with a lot of movement and be like 'hey boy' and rub it and hug it when it jumps on them. This is totally feeding and nurturing excitement. This excitement makes it harder for the person to control the dog. A good dog trainer uses excitement to good use but knows what they are doing. I recommend first establishing boundaries and some basic obedience and then after as the dog settles introduce more exciting training.

First, master the walk and show the dog you are stable and in control.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-19-2013, 08:21 AM
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the dog is neglected - there is more than food and water to give a dog a decent life...and GSDs are not dogs that are happy being outdoors all the time with no human interaction!!!! I totally disagree with MadLab's comment!

I applaud you for your intentions.

Your plan for segregating the house areas is a first step. It will be a long road and the dog may never be good with the have to retrain this dog as if she was a puppy from the beginning.

I am sure quite a few of our posters will write out long detailed suggestions....I don't have time right now to go into details....but you should and can rehab this dog! She sounds like she craves human companionship....I just hope your BF's parents don't go and do this to another dog if you take this one into your home!

Good luck!


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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-19-2013, 09:48 AM Thread Starter
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MadLab and wolfstraum:
Thanks for the replies!! Yes I will continue research and try to keep things as slow and smooth as possible. As much as I want to start off with segregating the house, I think my bf will have a hard time accepting it. (Or maybe he can sleep next to the pup as he wishes, on the couch. lol)

I sincerely hope his parents make the decision to keep their place pet free after this GSD as a guard dog has caused them great disappointment. If they want another dog, I really hope they take the effort to actually look around for one who will be happy and satisfied with the barn cat-ish guard dog lifestyle, although I doubt they even exist.

Meanwhile, the more I research the more frequently I come across topics stating that GSDs generally have strong hunting instinct, and will prey on cats if somehow their wild side kicks in. Is this true and is there any way to prevent it? I mean I believe all dogs are possible to get along with cats, just that with THAT much of a difference in size it's hard not to worry. This girl is really tiny compare to other GSDs, perhaps a small build or result from malnutrition. She's still capable of knocking me over or pulling me down to the ground though with no effort, and she'd shred anything in no time if she decide so.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-19-2013, 10:49 AM
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Segregation doesn't have to be a bad thing. It just means that the cats can have some peace and quiet away from the dog. I have a second bedroom that only my cat can access. What I've done is place a heavy old card table in the doorway, and it's wedged in the doorframe with a huge cat tree in the hallway. So my cat has no trouble getting in and out of the room but the dogs are blocked from entering it.

If you make a plan now on how to house them, it should be fairly easy. Just take it slow, and don't expect too much from them at first. Just keep them safe - you don't want the cats getting cornered and scratching the dog either.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-02-2014, 04:40 PM
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A cat adopted us a few weeks ago and our GSD that has never really had contact with cats other than chasing them across the yard was not her biggest fan. She would stalk her and loved chasing her down the hallway. We set up our bedroom and master bath as the cat's area with a baby gate, and the cat also likes my toddler's room, which the dog knows she's not allowed in. It's really taken just going with it while introducing them. I don't think they'll ever live in harmony, but for now our big bad GSD has a few small scratches on her nose from chasing the cat, who promptly jumped onto a book shelf, spun around, and had claws out and ready for the dog who couldn't get purchase on the wood floor to stop in time. It was pretty hilarious, and the dog has a new respect for the cat and hasn't chased her all week.

Long story short: your idea of separate areas is a good start. Beyond that, take it as it comes. Basic obedience for the dog and a place to get away for the cat will be a solid foundation.
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