Possibly getting a shepherd. Needs some advice/suggestions on them with cats - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 84 (permalink) Old 11-23-2015, 12:16 PM Thread Starter
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Possibly getting a shepherd. Needs some advice/suggestions on them with cats

Hello. Naturally im new here. I came here in hopes to get advice from a breed specific forum.

Ive wanted a GSD since my first job working in a pet store.
So a bit about me. Im very active, run/walk/jog/hike/bike daily. So providing proper exercise for a shepherd wont be a problem.i currently have a 6mo old lab and i wont be looking to get another dog for about 6mo. I also have two cats. Which brings me to my main question.

I know GSD have a high prey drive and ive heard such mixed feelings on them and cats. Im not willing to part with my cats.
So should i avoid GSD for now or is there a safe way to get a GSD that will have a good chance of not attacking my cats when im not home. I know you can train and properly socialize dogs at a young age, but ive also heard the horror stories of GSD living with cats for years then turning on them.

So any advice would be appreciated.
On a side note, i notice that the display picture includes a white GSD. I personally think they are stunning and would love to get one. But it was my impression that they were looked down upon by the community and are riddled with health problems. Kind of like panda shepherds.
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post #2 of 84 (permalink) Old 11-23-2015, 12:42 PM
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I had 3 cats and got a GSD puppy. We created lots of escape routes and safe spaces for the cats before the dog even came home. I set up the pet gate ahead of time and actually spent time with all of the cats and some kitty treats and taught them that the little door was theirs and how to use it.

The cats were also a key piece of information provided to the breeder. My breeder and my puppy's breeder were careful in matching us with a puppy who wasn't likely to have as high of a prey drive.

At this point, the dog is still trying to make friends with the cats a year and a half later. They still hate her. She's never been aggressive with them or tried to chase them down but will follow them as far as the gate. She wants to see what they're up to. She knows the word "kitty" and understands what, "Leave the kitty" means.
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post #3 of 84 (permalink) Old 11-23-2015, 01:12 PM
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Have safe places for your cat, and start training immediately. You *can* have GSD's and cats, but it takes work to keep everyone safe.

We also installed cat doors, and relocated litter boxes and cat food to an area that is 100% off limits to dogs (accessible by cat door). From Day #1, the cats are a "LEAVE-IT" item, not for playing. Lots of dogs will browse & snack on litter box waste, which I find absolutely revolting, so I don't allow them the opportunity.

Please keep in mind, your dog can learn that *your* cats are part of the family, but they probably won't generalize and extend that courtesy to other strange cats. We have feral cats in our neighborhood, and my dogs view them about the same as large furry squirrels - something to be stalked and chased, if given the opportunity. The same dog will walk into the office, calmly sniff *our* cat, and go lie down on her bed.
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post #4 of 84 (permalink) Old 11-23-2015, 01:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WIBackpacker View Post
Please keep in mind, your dog can learn that *your* cats are part of the family, but they probably won't generalize and extend that courtesy to other strange cats. We have feral cats in our neighborhood, and my dogs view them about the same as large furry squirrels - something to be stalked and chased, if given the opportunity. The same dog will walk into the office, calmly sniff *our* cat, and go lie down on her bed.
I think my dog, on the other hand, views all small furry creatures as playmates.

She's met outdoor cats on neighborhood walks and has made friends. If the cat doesn't run, she simply lies down and lets it sniff her, and if it wants to play she'll do that too (there was one cat who actually did engage her in play).

I'm honestly not sure she doesn't realize that the rabbits and squirrels are not cats. I've seen her do a play bow to a rabbit and then look utterly confused followed by frustrated when the rabbit just stared at her and hopped off.
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post #5 of 84 (permalink) Old 11-23-2015, 01:21 PM
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I was pretty aggressive with teaching my dog that, under no circumstances, could he chase the cat..even in play and I did not allow him to play with the cat. He is now very safe with her.

She always does have an escape route, though. Also SHE (the cat) was the one who introduced herself. I did not push them together.

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post #6 of 84 (permalink) Old 11-23-2015, 02:07 PM
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I think my dog, on the other hand, views all small furry creatures as playmates.
Good point. All dogs are different.

For whatever reason (and perhaps I've inadvertently reinforced it) my experience with two GSD's and one GSD/BC mix has been that they draw a clear mental line: Family Animals vs. Not-Family.

Family Animals (cats, rabbits, chickens, goats, sheep, etc.) are treated with reasonable respect/deference, after lots of training.

Not-Family Animals (squirrels, wild rabbits, deer, etc.) are not welcome in the yard according to my dogs, and will likely be barked at or chased if the opportunity presents itself. We just spent a big chunk of change adding fencing to a specific part of our yard because the deer and feral cats were driving me (and my dogs) nuts.

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Originally Posted by jocoyn View Post
Also SHE (the cat) was the one who introduced herself. I did not push them together.
This was my experience as well. One of our cats generally avoids the dogs, the other will occasionally (deliberately) seek them out.
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post #7 of 84 (permalink) Old 11-23-2015, 02:15 PM
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Maybe my dog isn't bright enough to discriminate!

At any rate, this lack of discernment has come in handy. "Leave the kitty!" works just as well on a rabbit as it does on the cat.
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post #8 of 84 (permalink) Old 11-23-2015, 02:31 PM
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Our first gsd was raised around cats as a puppy. I watch them together to make sure he does not get rough but 5 1/2 years later no issues. We got new kittens two years ago and they had to adjust to our adult shepherd. The kittens took a few weeks to adjust but now are fine. The picture I attached is our nine 9-month old shepherd with the cat we got as a kitten. The cat bossed our new pup around when she first came home but have now developed a very funny relationship. They play and sleep together all the time. Orion (the cat) lets the dogs know if he is annoyed but they really like one another. We also have multiple cats outside. The dogs will play but never with aggression. The cat will turn around and rub on them. I have always been strict with roughness. If I see any chasing that is too much one short verbal command and they instantly stop. The new gsd is ddr working line with good prey drive but I do think with proper socialization it can work. If the cats do not like dogs it may not be as easy. Ours have been raised together.
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post #9 of 84 (permalink) Old 11-23-2015, 03:10 PM
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The prey drive can be trained out of them in regards to family pets. They don't often catch their food so it's negligible.

As far as white GSD's go, they are 'faulty' as far as the breed standard goes and this is where the prejudice towards them comes from, but you should pretty much ignore that. Anyone with experience of them knows that they are the same as any other GSD - loyal, protective, loving, intelligent and awesome. It's only a colour.
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post #10 of 84 (permalink) Old 11-23-2015, 03:15 PM Thread Starter
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Well I'm one step ahead. Ive already set up the "safe zone" when i got my current lab. Do you guys feel safe leaving them alone for 8 hours a day while at work or do you leave the GSD in a kennel?
What does the training look like to socialize them early? Is it just allowing them to be together with the dog on a leash?
Also should i be looking for a breeder that breeds for a companion as opposed to a working line in an effort to get a dog with low prey drive? Thanks
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