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Old 07-13-2010, 06:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Training them to be good with cats? And dogs?

Sorry to start two threads in one day. I know that's annoying, but I feel like this belonged in a different thread.

We got Godric on the 2nd, and he was 9.5 weeks old. He'll be exactly 11 weeks tomorrow (the 13th). So we've had him for 11 days. We don't know a whole lot about training, but I know that at his age, everything should be fun and positive, and building his confidence, and making sure he thinks he can do no wrong. So we almost never correct him - except with the cats.

I already have one dog (Vincent) that we were very easy on when it came to the cats (because he's such a love bug, it never seemed like an issue), and he always seemed really good with them. He grew up with them. But now we have to find him a home because he's killed two of my cats, and can't figure out why he's in trouble. He's sorta dense. He realizes you're upset and he's in trouble, but he can't for the life of him figure out what he did.

I know this is mostly my fault, and I should have trained him more when he was younger, but it's also because of stray cats that get in our backyard when we're asleep or gone. We find the dead cat hours or a day later, and how can you punish him then? So he had no consequences. Like I said, he's great with the cats INSIDE the house. If one accidentally gets outside, he thinks it's play time, and he kills it. It's never vicious, and the skin is never broken, it's just chasing and playing way too rough. One cat slipped past us while we were carrying in groceries, and we had no idea. Afterward, we were being very careful going in or out the doors, and keeping track of the cats at all times, and were going to try to work on training with Vincent and cats. Then one of our door closes and even clicks, but it's not always completely closed. It's something with the latch or whatever. If it gets pushed from the inside, it'll pop open. Well, my other cat did that, and now he's dead too. It's all my fault, and I'm a bad mom. I was trying so hard to be careful and it wasn't hard enough.

Even if I was very careful, what are the chances that I won't make another dumb mistake in the next 10 years? I can't keep doing this with him and the cats. I have to worry if my kitty accidentally gets outside because my own dog will kill it? That's .

I've contacted around 5 different trainers in CA that do behavior modification, and they said that they can try to work on it in various ways, but really, I'm just hedging my bets, and hoping that if the situation arises, he'll make the right choice, and that can't be guaranteed. So he really can't be trusted, and we have to find him a new home.

It's horrible, and it breaks my heart, because I love both him and my cats, and to choose between them isn't fair, but he's killed two! My MIL is fostering him for a while until we can find him a home, but she doesn't give him the affection and cuddles he wants, and he just doesn't understand. He's so sad to be left there. I am so worried about finding him a home, because she will only keep him temporarily, and I don't know anyone that will take him. He deserves better than a rescue, and the pound is out of the question. He needs tons of affection, since all he wants in life is to cuddle, and someone who will love him like he deserves.

I've been reading horror stories about decent people that adopt the dog, and then something happens, and they leave the dog with a family member who ends up terribly horribly abusing the dog. The only way I can guarantee that he'll be good is if I know the person he's going to. But everyone has cats! So I don't know. I'm hoping my MIL falls in love with him. Even though she's kinda sucky and won't give him all of the attention he wants, he'll be an indoor dog, and we can visit all the time.


Anyway, I will not make the same mistake with another dog, and maybe I'm harsh about it, but I'm also trying to be fair. So the only correction Godric gets is with the cats. He's not allowed to chase them or bark at them or bite at them, which seems reasonable to me.

I give him tons of praise and treats for being near them and being good, and not focusing on them, or when he's playing with his toys even though the cat is a foot away. If he gets focused on them or too rambunctious, I redirect him with a toy, or call him and let him chase me or something. But if he chases them and doesn't come when I call and ignores me, and tries to bite or jump on them, he gets a big "NO!" and a little whack on the butt. (This is the only time we've really even told him "no." He had no idea what it meant before.) He'll sit there and be sad for a second, and I'll either go get a toy and let him chase it, or I'll get the kitty and make him sit, and let him sniff the cat's butt, which is often why he was chasing it in the first place. When he acts good at such a close range, I praise him some more and let the cat go, and he lets it walk away, and either wanders off to do something, or stays to play with me, and I tell him what a good boy he is and treat him for leaving the cat alone. A couple of times, one of the cats has swished their tail, and he bit it, thinking it was a toy.

Is this wrong? We've only had him for a week and a half, and he seems to be doing really well with the cats in general. After a day or two, I've rarely had to correct him. It's praise and treats and socialization with the kitties more than anything. I care MUCH more about the lives of my kitties than I do about his drive or his future in schutzhund or protection. I know that we need to be bonding with him and not punishing him since he's new to us, and we spend lots of quality time with him and play and praise and treat him too.

I would love it if he knew the difference, and could love and play gently with our cats (like Victor does), but I'd rather he have zero interest in them than risk him hurting/killing them from playing too rough.


The other question is about dogs. He's pretty fearless, and besides accidentally getting stepped on once, he's had almost entirely positive experiences with dogs. My mom's little dog growled at him once, and he flipped out, snarling and everything. Otheriwse it's all been fun and games, and none of the dogs are really dominant, and none have tried to dominate him.

He runs right up to strange large dogs (though he's only been around the ones I know are safe), with no hesitation. But when he wants to play, he barks and growls and will often try to bite the larger dog's lip or foot as he prances around them. It's fine because he's tiny, but what about when he's older? Can this become aggressive? What should I do to make sure it doesn't?

As I said, I don't want to kill any drive and am looking to try schutzhund and am intending to do personal protection training when he's older, BUT first and foremost, he is to be an all-around family dog and companion. He MUST at least get along with other dogs when he gets older, even if he doesn't play.

Besides socialization, what else can I do? What behaviors should I look out for, and how should I handle them?

Any opinions and info are great. Thank you so much for the help, you guys!

You're all awesome.
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Last edited by JeanKBBMMMAAN; 07-16-2010 at 07:37 AM. Reason: :censored: language
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Old 07-13-2010, 07:38 PM   #2 (permalink)
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at 11 weeks, he is gonna have the attention span of a gnat, and get into all kinds of trouble)

Cats are just to darn tempting especially to puppies who want to play.

I have 5 indoor cats, the dogs are fine with them now. As puppies, yes they rather tormented the cats, and YES i would correct them for it..

I use a leave it,,and would rather do what your doing,,sit around with the puppy and the cat(s) in the vacinity with 'food', and toss treats to the puppy for leaving the cat alone..I certainly don't mind them playing 'nicely' with the cats, and well my cats can be tormenters of the dogs as well, so they kinda give as good as they get.

As for your dog killing outside cats, doesn't surprise me, cats RUN, cats RUNNING are to good to pass up, mine would most likley do the same thing if they had the chance (but I have a fenced yard so no strays get in)..

I'm sorry you feel you have to give up Vincent for killing your cats, and I'm sorry your cats were killed by him. But it doesn't surprise me, he isn't the only dog that would do just what he did, but then again, there are many more that have no problems with the kitties they live with being outside with them( tough dilemma..
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Old 07-13-2010, 07:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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as I was typing, Masi is slobbering all over her best buddy Boogie,,she jumps at the cat, boogie is lying on her back, grabbing masi by the face,,here's a pic of them I took a few weeks ago.
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Old 07-14-2010, 08:04 AM   #4 (permalink)
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i have always had cats and dogs together, and never had any problems, all the pups were brought up with cats and always corrected if they stepped out of line with the cats. i think most dogs realize if brought up in close vacinity with the cats that they are part of the pack, not that they won't try to chase them or play with them once in a while, but they do know the difference between cats as part of the family and fair game stray cats running outside.

i had a friend who's GSD's killed her cats............she always kept the dogs and cats separated when the dogs were pups (big mistake) the cats lived in the basement or outside never in the living space..........one day the cats somehow got up into the house from the basement, and the dog viewed them as strangers and prey went after them and killed them...........she learned a good lesson, unfortunately the hard way.........its sad and easy to feel quilty for an incidence like that, but i feel any dog/pup can be successfully brought up with cats within the pack, as far as outside, well alot of dogs will chase after anything that moves......best idea is try to cat proof your yard to prevent this type of thing, and in the meantime teaching self control and impulse control helps.................
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Old 07-14-2010, 08:39 AM   #5 (permalink)
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That is a huge shame. Very sorry about the two cats and for Vincent. How awful. My dogs have always gotten along fine with our cats. I think the most important thing is to not ever allow the outdoor chasing, especially since inside seems to be fine. It's asking a lot of a dog to always differentiate indoor and outdoor cat situations. I have always let my pups play with the cat, but supervised enough that if it gets a bit too intense, I can cool things down. I never separate them, because to me, that makes getting the cat more exciting. I've put this vid up before, but here it is again. This Max and Xavier. Max (GSD) is just about 3 1/2 mos old here. They used to play much more roughly, but get mellower every week as they learn each others boundaries.

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Old 07-14-2010, 08:53 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackviolet View Post
I already have one dog (Vincent) that we were very easy on when it came to the cats (because he's such a love bug, it never seemed like an issue), and he always seemed really good with them. He grew up with them. But now we have to find him a home because he's killed two of my cats, and can't figure out why he's in trouble. He's sorta dense. He realizes you're upset and he's in trouble, but he can't for the life of him figure out what he did.

I know this is mostly my fault, and I should have trained him more when he was younger, but it's also because of stray cats that get in our backyard when we're asleep or gone. We find the dead cat hours or a day later, and how can you punish him then? So he had no consequences. Like I said, he's great with the cats INSIDE the house. If one accidentally gets outside, he thinks it's play time, and he kills it. It's never vicious, and the skin is never broken, it's just chasing and playing way too rough.
This is called prey drive. The dog doesn't understand he is in trouble, he is just reacting to your behavior. To him he has not done anything wrong - killing small furry things that run is normal behavior for a dog. He isn't dense, he's being a dog. And for a dog, it is extremely rewarding to catch prey.

It is very common for dogs with high prey drive to be ok with small animals in controlled or less stimulating environments, such as around the house but for them to look at the same small animals as prey when they see them running across the yard. I have heard this same exact thing time and again. There is no way to guarantee that your GSD won't have prey drive towards small animals running outside - GSDs are a breed who generally has a higher prey drive.

If I had cats and a dog who would kill them if they got outside, I would feel it was my responsibility to not allow the cats to get outside. Ever. Even if it meant that the cat's normal life had to change so that they were not allowed access to rooms with doors going out, especially when people would be coming and going. My oldest cat recently passed away and had never been outdoors unattended and had been outside on a leash just a handful of times.

Cats who are allowed outdoors are constantly at risk of being killed by other animals, getting into fights with other cats, getting hit by a car, being poisoned or being taken home by a well meaning person thinking they are a stray. If your cats are the sort who really enjoy the outdoors, you can build them an outdoor pen:




Build a SAFE Outdoor Enclosure for Your Cat!

If you have a fenced yard you can try cat proofing the outside of it to prevent cats from getting in. If you don't have a fenced yard, your dog probably shouldn't be outside unattended anyway.

Cat-proofing fences:
How to Cat Proof a Garden Fence, Cat Proofing a Garden Fence
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Old 07-14-2010, 09:22 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AgileGSD View Post
This is called prey drive. The dog doesn't understand he is in trouble, he is just reacting to your behavior. To him he has not done anything wrong - killing small furry things that run is normal behavior for a dog. He isn't dense, he's being a dog. And for a dog, it is extremely rewarding to catch prey.

It is very common for dogs with high prey drive to be ok with small animals in controlled or less stimulating environments, such as around the house but for them to look at the same small animals as prey when they see them running across the yard. I have heard this same exact thing time and again. There is no way to guarantee that your GSD won't have prey drive towards small animals running outside - GSDs are a breed who generally has a higher prey drive.

If I had cats and a dog who would kill them if they got outside, I would feel it was my responsibility to not allow the cats to get outside. Ever. Even if it meant that the cat's normal life had to change so that they were not allowed access to rooms with doors going out, especially when people would be coming and going. My oldest cat recently passed away and had never been outdoors unattended and had been outside on a leash just a handful of times.
I'm sort of with this right here. You have a working line GSD. He has prey drive. You are interested in SchH...you don't want to kill his prey drive because you're going to need it.

I understand you don't want him to harm your cats and I don't think that there is a problem with teaching him to behave nicely in the house...however the yard might be a different story. Especially if he is out unsupervised. Over time obedience training will give you what you need to call him off of cats when you are outside with him, but if the instinct is there strongly enough, you probably won't have much luck teaching him self control when he is unsupervised. I know dogs with great manners when they are supervised, who will kill cats, chickens, rabbits, and baby cows or horses when they are unsupervised. I've had dogs that were great in the house with cats, outside cats were fair game.
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Old 07-14-2010, 09:30 AM   #8 (permalink)
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That is so sad to hear about the loss of your 2 cats and for having to decide to give up Vincent.

I have 3 cats. I got my GSD when he was 11 weeks old and I only had 2 cats at that time and they hate my GSD, I got a kitten 3 months ago and the kitten and the GSD are the absolute best of friends. He is very, very gentle with the kitten and he will let her bite and jump all over him.
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Old 07-14-2010, 10:44 AM   #9 (permalink)
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i think the last three post made alot of sense...........

unsupervised a dog is capable of doing anything of his own free will..........they do have prey drive and need to be taught to control it..........simpley setting them up in situations with cats or other running prey and teaching self control, Obedience, and distraction methods............

in some of my Ob classes we had dogs that weren't good with cats, the trainer actually had a caged cat, who was pretty mellow ( i wasn't crazy about this, but its a good way to set them up, if the cat is mellow and used to dogs" they would leash the dog, and if the dog went aggressively tward the cage different methods were used to teach and them reward for avoidence behavior.........you can't control things you don't see, but you certainly can set them up and teach them right from wrong without using barbarick methods...........................

i also don't think there is anything wrong with your other dog, he is just doing what comes natural and hasn't been taught any different...................
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Old 07-14-2010, 10:55 AM   #10 (permalink)
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When my GSD was a puppy I let him run and play with our two barn cats. However, his prey drive is so strong (and my barn cats torment him) I do not trust them together... ever. I feel it is impossible for me to train him (at 10 months old) not to kill the cats, and I have no doubt he will. Therefore, I HAVE to have a strong recall. He has to be right 100% of the time. His recall is my plan B. Plan A is never being together.
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