Introducing Adult GSD to adult cats - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 08:41 AM Thread Starter
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Introducing Adult GSD to adult cats

I am preparing to bring home my very first GSD. I am adopting a retiring breeding female who is five years old. She has been raised around cats, and the breeder hand picked her out for me because they knew I was looking for a GSD that was good with cats. I have three cats: an 18-year-old, 5-year-old and 3-year-old. I'm actually not nervous at all about the dog being aggressive (but, for the record, I'm not being naive and will follow all of the advice I've seen about introducing GSDs and cats), but I am nervous about one of my cats not being great with the dog - at least in the beginning.

I have always had dogs as long as I've had the cats, but I put my last dog down about nine months ago. So, the cats been without a dog for about nine months, and I always had much smaller dogs than the GSD. My 18-year-old has been around many dogs all her life, and she loves dogs. My three-year-old loves all living things, although she is shy at first.

My 5-year-old has far more energy than a normal cat. The other two cats tire of her wanting to play with them. My last dog was terrified of her and largely steered clear of her. I should clarify that she was a nervous dog that was largely terrified of everything, and it was the cats high level of energy that made her nervous, not the cat trying to hurt her. That particular cat is declawed on the front, so she can't cause any real damage that way. She's just very much an alpha and likes to show everyone she is the boss. she did live with several big dogs in a foster home when I first got her, but that was five years ago. Since then she has only been around the small Italian Greyhound I previously had.

I saw a lot of posts on the forum about introducing GSD puppies to cats, but I'm wondering if anyone has brought home an adult GSD and introduced to them to adult cats. I've read a ton on the internet about the appropriate ways to introduce them, but I want all of the advice I can get!
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 10:21 AM
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Does the dog respect gates? Use them to confine her, provide escape routes for your cats and use the "honeymoon" period to lay ground rules for your new girl. Some dogs will display "good" behavoir for several weeks while they're adjusting to their new home and it can be easy to let your guard down so to speak. You know your cats well and are being proactive so you should be fine as long as there are consistent rules enforced from the start.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 12:30 PM Thread Starter
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Does the dog respect gates? Use them to confine her, provide escape routes for your cats and use the "honeymoon" period to lay ground rules for your new girl. Some dogs will display "good" behavoir for several weeks while they're adjusting to their new home and it can be easy to let your guard down so to speak. You know your cats well and are being proactive so you should be fine as long as there are consistent rules enforced from the start.
I'm not bringing her home until Tuesday, so I do not know for sure. However, what I have been told is that she will respect gates. I'm also getting two different crates for her for two different areas of our house. I plan to introduce them by scent first, then maybe allow the cats to start checking her out in her crate, then slowly start introductions with the dog always on a leash.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 12:38 PM
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Some dogs respond poorly to being approached in their crates so watch that.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 01:23 PM Thread Starter
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Some dogs respond poorly to being approached in their crates so watch that.
Thank you for that - I'll definitely watch it closely and adjust my strategy if that's the case.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 01:42 PM
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I think gates will be your best friend.

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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 04:15 PM
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Shadow met her first house cat yesterday. Fortunately it was a dog savy cat. Also fortunately said cat exercised control and Shadow will have a few small marks on her nose and nothing more serious. All in all a cheap education given that she was being loud and persistant. The first smack lacked claws. The remaining 5 did not. The cat was in no danger and could have escaped anytime. It chose to offer a lesson and I opted to let it. Better then tangling with one that may not be so forgiving.
As long as the cats have an escape most times it is best to let them define boundaries on their own. Under supervision. With few exceptions cats are pretty worthy opponents.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 04:33 PM
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A dog that’s lived with cats and cats that have lived with dogs... you can’t ask for better odds than that. I certainly wouldn’t let my guard down but I also wouldn’t be so cautious that it draws any extra attention to the situation. Sometimes that can increase interest and cause problems.

My strategy when I integrated my multi pet household...

- bought a tall cat tree with a shelter at the top
- brought cat home in a carrier, let everyone sniff each other through the carrier (my cat did hiss, I ignored the hiss and carried on as usual)
- put the dogs in my room, put cat in cat tree, let dogs out
- at night I put the dogs in my room so the cat could come down to eat, drink, potty and explore.
- by the 3rd morning we emerged from the room and the cat was on the middle tier of the tree (contact/sniffing level)
- by that evening she was brave enough to come to the floor. If one of the dogs walked towards her or showed interest, she’d return to her tree.

Mainly, I observed all actions and responses and stayed available to intervene if needed, but in the end, I provided a safe set up and let them work it out on their own without a bunch of initial (prolonged) barriers and restrictions. That was 12yrs ago - other dogs have been introduced similarly since that time. I routinely keep my house divided by a baby gate, for various reasons... but it also allows my cat to always have a safe place away from the dogs when I can’t be there directly.

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 06:27 PM
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When we had both, we had cheap baby gates that we cut little kitty doors into because one of our cats was old and couldn't jump. Now they make gates with pre installed kitty doors at the bottom. Maybe they will all get along famously
I agree, be smart but not paranoid if the dog has a history with cats
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 07:05 PM Thread Starter
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When we had both, we had cheap baby gates that we cut little kitty doors into because one of our cats was old and couldn't jump. Now they make gates with pre installed kitty doors at the bottom. Maybe they will all get along famously
I agree, be smart but not paranoid if the dog has a history with cats
I was just looking at one of those gates with the kitty door on Amazon yesterday. I think I might get a couple.
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