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d4lilbitz 07-08-2014 02:41 PM

Foster and Cats
I am currently fostering a 3 - 4 yr old male german shepherd. He appears to be from working lines. He has a potential adopter after being on the site for several days. I'm concerned though because he has demonstrated a desire to chase things that move (prey drive). The family has one dog and 3 cats. Balto gets along great with dogs, it's the cats I'm concerned with. I do not have any cats, so he's not been tested. When out on walks, if he see a squirrel he cries and lunges at it. A firm sit gets his attention back though. Yesterday I took him to visit my parents. The house behind them has 3 tiny Maltese's that are fluffy and like to bark. Balto demonstrated the same characteristics with them...high whining and lunging. I'm concerned for he safety of the cats as well as himself should they get into an altercation.
I'm trying to see if I can find a friend who has cats to see about introducing them (he will be leashed), so I can get a picture of what his reaction is to seeing one. Please let me know if you have any ideas, thoughts or opinions on what would be best. My gut is saying a cat home might not be a good idea.

d4lilbitz 07-08-2014 02:45 PM

This is a couple pictures of him....

llombardo 07-08-2014 04:30 PM

I would not just send him to a home with cats if there are any doubts. Lots of people won't put time into training a dog not to chase a cat and the dog ends up going back. For the dogs sake get him cat tested or require a home with no cats.

Wicked Seraphim 07-09-2014 02:10 AM

I agree.

Both my dogs came into my home without us having zero idea about how they would do with the cats. My first dog, was a breeze with them...he was just thrilled to be in a home and getting healthy again.

My girl was excited by the cats and played with them, but not prey/play. However, if she sees a cat in the yard, all bets are off if they are not on of her cats...they are her potential chewie if she can catch 'em.

Her kitties in the house, she adores and shares her bed with nightly. It took some training with her and watching, but now, I trust her 1000000% around all the cats in the house, even the Savannahs that can be a bit dominating with her at times. She's always the perfect lady.

Wicked Seraphim 07-09-2014 02:16 AM

Can get a large dog crate to see how he reacts with cats, put him in the crate and let cat sniff him from outside, then vice versa. This is what we do.

Also, have an "off limits" room is a must, for either the dog or the cat. One of them gets space to be safe and away, anytime they feel the need. Here, my cats have a room, and the dog knows not to enter that 1 room.

It helps keep the peace.

LifeofRiley 07-09-2014 02:35 AM

Can you bring the foster dog to the potential adopter's home to introduce the dog to the cats? If you know the dog, and dog's behavior, you will likely get a decent read on whether or not it will be easy - or hard - to desensitize the foster dog to cats with an extended visit to the home.

Another thought, does the rescue/shelter you are fostering for allow for a foster-to-adopt situation? Some will, some won't. I am thinking that if the group you are fostering for has a program that places the dog in an interested/qualified adopter's home on a temporary basis before finalizing the adoption... that might be a good fit. It would allow the potential new owner to get some hands-on understanding of the dog in the context of their home. Most rescue groups, that I know of, will have their own policies on length of temp. placement ranging from 48 hrs. to 2 weeks.

LifeofRiley 07-09-2014 03:00 AM

Okay, I will also add a personal story. About 1.5 years after I adopted my dog, I fostered a cat. I told the rescue that I wasn't sure that it would work about between my dog and the foster cat as he had never been exposed to cats in the home while with me and he sure did have the desire to chase any squirrel and rabbit that crossed his sensory path : )

The rescue was desperate for a foster home for the cat, as the cat did not get along with any other cats... I was the only person in their network who did not have another cat. So, we proceeded. And, I have to say, that I was shocked by how well my dog took to the cat almost from the outset not to mention how well the cat took to to dog from the outset.

Sure, I did have to give some stern leave it commands with the dog, and I was lucky that the cat was not a "runner," which really does help in dog/cat relations. But, the bottomline line is that something I was worried about prior to bringing the cat in turned out to be a non-issue. We adopted the cat. In many ways, our home was really the only home that would want the cat. At adoption events, it was almost hilarious how awful he was. And, in the end, he really did need a home without other cats and without kids.

Funny thing re: the dog/cat relationship - the next time I had a foster dog, my dog was very good at keeping the foster dog from showing too much interest in the cat. Any time the foster dog even so much as tried to chase the cat, my dog would intercept the dog and stand in between the dog and the cat. Sure, I know that some will say the dog was resource-guarding the cat, but it worked in teaching the foster dog to stay away from the cat... so, it was kind of fine by me.

llombardo 07-09-2014 03:05 AM

As the owner of several cats and dogs I will say that most dogs can be trained to at the very least ignore cats, it can be a long process. I think the most important thing to know is that the cat is going to determine what does/doesn't happen. If a cat doesn't like a dog you can't change that and it can be dangerous for both the cat and dog. I do have a cat room that is not accessible to the dogs, so I know they have somewhere safe to go.

David Taggart 07-09-2014 06:30 AM

Balto doesn't recognize your cats as the pack members, rather some sort of a nuisance running around which could be a fun to chase away. You have to tell him, that your cats are the pack members. You can start feeding him and the cats in your kitchen, because a true pack always sleep and eat together. Tether him in the corner and ask to sit, call the cats in. Feed some tasty treats both in turn. Balto must remain in a sitting position all the time. Try to keep his attention on you. One day, one moment he will ignore that cats receive food as well. In other situations recall him only you see one cat around and try to keep his attention on you with his toy, lure him into another room if necessary. This way you would tell him that his ball is a right prey object, and the wrong prey object is something to ignore.

d4lilbitz 07-09-2014 08:41 AM

Thank you so much for your replies and stories. Since I did not have a cat to test, I did a test using my Guinea Pig (Carmel) as the Guinea Pig. Yesterday evening I tested Balto more in depth When I clean Carmel's cage normally, I'll place him in one of my wired crates, where he's completely safe (Wicked Seraphim we had the same idea!). Out of MY three dogs, my two Shepherds (one adult, one pup) are the ones who show the most interest in him. The adult who is very prey driven starts circling the crate whining and biting at it trying to get the Guinea Pig. He has a lot of prey drive and will kill small animals should he catch them, a cat is included in that. My lab will simply lay next to the crate while I clean the cage, not bothering him at all. I thought this would a be a great indicator of how much of a prey drive Balto demonstrates under this test and what his possible reaction would be to a cat . Unfortunately, he reacted the same way as my older male shepherd. He was circling, whining and biting at the cage trying to get at the smaller animal. This animal is also normally caged right next to him and he never bothers it. Once it was more on the ground, he fixated on Camel. You could see the more frustrated he got not being able to get to the animal, the more in drive he became and more focused on catching the animal. As a result, we have determined that in Balto's best interest he be placed in a non cat home. After all he's been through in life, we want to be sure he is being set up for success not failure, meaning he needs to be placed in the correct environment. In is case, a non cat home. Luckily for Balto he's become quite popular and has had several inquiries since his profile went up on Saturday. Two of which are non cat homes : ) He is a special boy and I'm making sure he goes to a good home since his start in life was not that great!

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