how to teach him to not eat the cat?? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-22-2009, 09:24 PM Thread Starter
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how to teach him to not eat the cat??

Ok, my male is 13mo. We got him at 8wks. Breeder said Germans are not always fond of cats and she could not guarantee anything. So we rescued a 10wk old simaese kitten two weeks prior to get her aclimated to the house first. She was raised with two other dogs and loved them. 'We purposely wanted a kitten who could handle herself.

When they first met she hissed all over the room, he barked and jumped up and down. It was not pleasant but we gave them time. It has been a long year. We have a gate at bottom of stairs because we cannot trust him to not eat toys or things left on the floors up there. So kitty pretty much stays upstairs and he downstairs. She comes down to use the potty and annoy him.

She goes in laundryroom through the catdoor and he sticks his head in it. She slaps him around. When he leaves she shoves her paws in and out until he comes running back. We have this 3' tall vase with nothing inside. She gets down in it and he sticks his head in and she smacks him around. She sits on the diningroom chairs and he goes under the table to mouth her. She knocks flowers from the table down onto the floor and sits and watches him get in trouble for chewing them up. She loves to tease him and he loves to try to get her. She has actually stopped, layed down and let him get on top of her and mouth her. Problem is that he is huge and she is a small cat.

We started a trick I saw on the tv show with the British gal. When the dog looked at the other dog she would say no. When the dog turned away she gave him a treat. Eventually the owners were able to let the other dog walk by and simply tell the other to leave it be. So I tried the No Kitty, Come. When he came to me he got a treat. It actually works, especially if he is heading under the table. I simply say, No Kitty, Come. He comes running. Lots of praise and a treat. He usually stays with me at that point. So far he isn't running back and forth because he knows he will get a treat each time he comes back. So far.

Now we have a split staircase. He will chase the cat up the stairs, when I say No Kitty, Come he just keeps on going. He will actually come to me then run around the house and just go up the other stairs. Every now and then he will stop halfway and come to me. But when he is in pursuit he is full throttle.

I know he is just a pup still and he has had plenty of opportunities to eat her. It is just that he is so big and she wants to play with him so much. I have actually seen him licking her like a baby cleaning her ears. She lets him. But then her head is almost in his mouth and I just have to interceed.

My other cat was 8 and declawed when we got out first pup. He was an american with no prey drive at all really. He would catch he in passing and just sniff her really hard but never mouthed her or anything. Never chased after her at all. This kitty has her claws and loves to smack him around and he loves it too. Or is he just trying to see if she tastes good?

On the otherhand. He goes for walks and doesn't even care when we run across a cat. He gets a little tale wiggly but that is it. No pulling really at all. He passes other dogs with ease. The passing dogs usually get all wiggly and he stays right with us. Sometimes he glances back but not much. My 12yr DD actually stopped to talk with a couple walking their two adult gsds and all three dogs sat quietly.

I guess my question is this... So I am getting some results with No Kitty, Come when he starts to head towards the cat. How do I step this up? When he bolts and ignores the command, so I follow him, correct him with his pinch? and say No. There is got to be something else I can do. Or is this simply a matter of him needing to obey the Come command in general? We were having a problem with him coming back inside from the yard. We started by saying Come, Inside and rewarding im with a treat. Slowly we started not giving him the treat. Now he almost always comes in when we say Come, Inside.

Hope this does not seem rambling. Any help from someone who has dealt with this cat issue is appreciated.

The only fault our friends have is that they don't live long enough.

Tank (10/24/08) WGSD
Sealy (9/24/08ish) rescue, Snowshoe Siamese

Lochsa (10/3/93-8/16/07) American GSD
Kiki (10/87-10/21/04 12:00am) small, all-over tortie
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-22-2009, 10:04 PM
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Re: how to teach him to not eat the cat??

I had a similar problem. My puppy is now 5 1/2 months old. I have older cats, and that wasn't much of a problem. They educated her when she first came here at 8 weeks. But, unfortunately, about 6 weeks ago I was given a half dead 5 week old kitten that someone found necessary to hit in the head and bury. He has recovered very nicely, but has some neurologic issues including deafness. High prey drive puppy + "special kitty" = problems. Once the kitty moved out of the ICU bathroom, I kept the house seperate with baby gates. I was hoping someone would adopt the kitty, but that didn't happen. Something had to be done. I'm not always a fan of Ceaser, but I figured in this case, I'd give it a try. First, the puppy was never unattended. When the kitten wobbled into a room where she was and she went after it, I'd get between her and the kitten. I started with just blocking her, but sometimes I'd have to to touch her neck and make a sound. She knew leave it, but that was a total waste of time. I think the thing is attitude. I told her that was MY kitty, and I really ment it. I was not going to have her eat this poor soul after I worked so hard to save it. It didn't happen over night. It probably took 3 weeks or so. But now she is more gentle with that kitten than she is with anything else, including me. The 2 of them are playing together right now. I think it comes down to telling you dog, I will not accept that from you - and really mean it. A good block and stare is all you need.

Cinzar's Dark Shadow Too (Ruger) CGC, RN 1/8/05
SG Quinn Z Old Farm (Cues) IPO 3, KKL 6/7/09
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-01-2009, 12:51 PM
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Re: how to teach him to not eat the cat??

Wow, that really sounds great! We have two siamese cats who mostly live upstairs to avoid our huge 7 mths old boy. They come down at night when they know he is asleep and get on our knees, so they are getting braver. The trouble is when we use a 'telling off' tone, the cats think we're talking to them and disappear back upstairs. Its quite worrying to hear that this could still be the case at 1 yr old. I really don't know what to do, I feel bad because the cats were there first and it's their home too. I'm quite concerned about the high prey drive stuff (Harry tries to lunge after cats outside as well) does this mean that he will never settle down? Obviously, I love him, but I don't want to put the cats in danger - help!
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-01-2009, 10:07 PM
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Re: how to teach him to not eat the cat??

I have 6 dogs and 6 cats. It is very important to me to have a house that co-exsists peacefully together (within reason). That said, it's a lot of work. From what I can see from the above posts, paticularily the OP, is that the dog has been doing the undesired behaviour for some time, you are now trying to change that behaviour, but it is not always reinforced/followed through.

Item #1: Consistancy. This applies to the command(s) given and what you expect. The OP is using "No Kitty, Come", which is 3 commands. This makes it hard to enforce if the dog does not understand the commands seperately. "No" is generally used for making the incorrect choice. "Kitty" not so much a command but a labeling of an item, and "come", an often over used command with very many meanings to most dogs, hence it's inconsistancy.

Instead of "No kitty, come" I would use "Leave it". 'Leave it' is a universal command that simply means "what ever you are focused on when I say this, it no longer applies to you". The dog is then simply expected to abandon the object of desire. 'Leave it' can be used for all kinds of things and is generally quite easily taught. Once the dog has an understanding of the command it can be put into play with the cat. When working with a dog around a cat in the teaching phase I always have a leash trailing behind the dog. Length depends on need. A quick dog that often runs up the stairs might need a longer lead than one who jumps off the couch to the TV unit. I attach the leash to the dogs training collar. Also, have a reward handy. This can be food, a favorite toy or simply praise from you. Whatever it is should be more desirable then the object you wish to divert their attention from (the cat).

The scenario may play like this:
Dog laying in room with owner. Trailing leash within owners reach. Dog's head perks up, ears forward as cat enters room. Owner states 'leave it'. Dog either then 1) leaves it, places head back down - owner praises with reward - [but keeps dog calm]. Life resumes or 2) dog stares intently or gets up to pursue cat - owner corrects* dog. Once dog has complied with command, reward it given.
*I will not go into correction choices as there are many training methods used and that is a whole other discussion.

Consistancy of course also applies to training as well. Everyone in the house has to be on board and enforce the policy EVERYTIME. If you are not in a position to enfore the command you can not give it. Once you set something, such as a change in the dogs routine, you must stick with it 100%, or you will only confuse the dog and have poor results.

Item #2: TIMING. The OP notes that "Now we have a split staircase. He will chase the cat up the stairs, when I say No Kitty, Come he just keeps on going. He will actually come to me then run around the house and just go up the other stairs. Every now and then he will stop halfway and come to me. But when he is in pursuit he is full throttle."

It should never get to this point. In this scenario the dog is self rewarding (he gets to chase the cat) and that is far more fun then listening to you and getting his cookie at the moment. So, timing is key. Please note in my blurb above that the command was given as soon as the dog raised his head and ears went forward. This shows the dog is interested in the item (cat). This is also the easiest point in which to head off the undesired behaviour. If you are in motion at the time ie: walking from room to room, dog is following, cat shows up at end of hallway, dog bolts - you must (and this happens quite quickly) give the command 'leave it' and step on the leash. One of two things happen. The dogs listens and you reward him or the dog does not and receives a correction for ignoring the command.

You do not want this to become a game of chase (owner chases dog chasing cat) as again this is just far too much fun for the dog. You also don't want to be repeating yourself over and over 'Leave it, I said leave it, Rover LEAVE IT' and then correct, as the dog will learn that you didn't mean it the first time.

Item #3: The dog graduates from the trailing leash once the dog is 99% reliable to always respond to the command spoken at normal voice volume the first time! (1% given for a bad day). This is key. If you do this for a few hours one day and then the next day expect that the dog "knows it" and don't put the leash on and you end up with a chase came, you have set yourself up for failure and ignored item #1 - consistancy. How long this will take will depend on the dog. My boy Faeron has a wonderful prey drive. He'd happily play with anything small & furry 'to death' if I said 'okay'. When he first came to my house it took him about 2 weeks to learn that I didn't tolerate chasing of the cats. However to this day, with the cats that run if he looks at them, he is still managed. BUT he responds to me every time with the 'leave it' command. He is allowed to play SUPERVISED with one cat (a non-runner) for short periods of time, but it is ended immediately if he gets too excited. Overstimulation is what causes accidents or worse.

Item #4 & 5: NEVER leave your dog unsupervised with the cats(s) and ALWAYS give you cat and escape route. If I am not home, the cats are not allowed in the room with the dog crates. It is not fair to your dog and many cats will tease. You may come home to a busted crate and a warzone. If you use baby gates, make sure the cat can't tease the dog through the gate. I've never met a baby gate that could stop a GSD who truly wanted out. If your dog is out with you and you are working with him, make sure the cat has somewhere it can escape to should a chase ensure. Either a place up high out of reach of the dog, behind a piece of furniture or though a cat door to another room. Anything is fine as long as the cat KNOWS the escpae route is there. Otherwise it could end up climbing your curtains or knocking over all your china in an attempt to escape.

Hopefully this has been somewhat helpful. If there's anything I can further clarify on please just ask.

My crew:
Dante - Mutt, Morpheus - Rottweiler, Faeron - GSD, Errol -Mutt, Teito - GSD, Pancake - GSD, Jasper - GSD, Natsu - Rottweiler, Gambit - GSD

Luna - GSD
'New Guy' - GSD
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-02-2009, 12:24 AM Thread Starter
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Re: how to teach him to not eat the cat??

Great info. I think there is lost of info that we know but applying it can often times be difficult. It is nice to get reinforcement from you.

We started off with long leash so we could stop him in pursuit. It had worked a little but due to tangling too much in the house he has been on a shorter leash but we can still step on it.

I think our first big mistake was trying too hard to allow them to play, especially because Sealy would instigate the play- see my pic in introductions of them playing together. It is really safe, gentle play. Sealy has many escape routes so that is really good. But as Tank has grown his pouncing has just grown more noticable. I think our approach of chasing him down and saying No has been a negative thing. After reading so many comments about praise and how to use it to our advantage I think we need a different approach. Our kids have to be in on this too. They are notorious for instigating trouble. Making Tank sit while they parade around with the cat in a teasing manner. Tonight they made him sit at bottom of stairs while they asked me to look upstairs at them holding the cat. It drove Tank crazy to be separated like that knowing Sealy was getting all the attention. I immediatly changed the situation. I had him Sit and Wait. He knows Wait means I will be right back. I them went up to see the kids and when I returned to him still there I gave him praise for being so good. Then I banished the kids for teasing the dog.

Anyhoo. Back to square one with the Beast.

We started by having him lay down in kitchen. Lots of praise. When Sealy snuck a peak in from the dining room we said Leave It (just as you suggested). Lots of praise and treat. Next while working in kitchen and Tank was allowed to roam he noticed kitty and headed out of room to her. Again, Leave It, praise and treat. Next I caught them playing under dining table, their second favorite thing to do. She on chair seat, he undertable trying to lick/mouth/taste her while she smacks him around. I see him and say Easy, No Bite, which is what we say when he is mouthing us. He relaxes and plays nicely. Another time I see him heading her way and I think he has had enough playtime for the day. I say Leave It, when he stops I say Come. When he comes to me he gets tons of praise and treats.

So here we are so far. He is definitly able to stay down and not get up and chase her. He is leaving her alone and coming to me when I tell him to, with little hesitation. We are working on his running up the stairs (most times he is not chasing her but rather running to her because he hears her up there). I am saying Leave it then asking him to Come rather than running after him and scolding him (sorry, sometimes we do it wrong). As soon as he turns to come to me I give him praise and treat. Now keep in mind, I am not treating him every time so as to not have him do bad behavior just to get a treat.

Tank is a quick learner and I can see the joy in his eyes when he does the right thing. He loves praise like any pup would. I agree that consistent training is needed. It is never too late but we really need to get on top of this. One thing we learned with our first best buddy is that training never ends. We let him get away with a lot because he was just so darn sweet. Our punishment for that is this pup is just so darn crazy but with consistency he will be the second best buddy ever.

I have noticed Sealy coming around more. I think she knows he is not always going to chase her, so that is good too.

On a side note, he paws open the door to come in. He nudges a bell when he wants out but paws the door to come in. This drives me nuts and is bad behavior we should not allow. So I tried a trick. When I saw him coming to door I opened slightly and said Sit. He did. Then I shut the door, waited a moment, then opened to let him in. I gave him praise and a treat for being good. Next morning without my even saying anything he did the same thing. I wondered why he had not pawed at door yet. He was sitting there waiting. He has been doing it ever since pretty consistently. Then tonight I let him out. We hear a slight whimper, he was sitting there letting us know he was waiting. He got huge praise and two treats. Consistent on my part, I know, for this to continue. And of course not a treat every time.

The only fault our friends have is that they don't live long enough.

Tank (10/24/08) WGSD
Sealy (9/24/08ish) rescue, Snowshoe Siamese

Lochsa (10/3/93-8/16/07) American GSD
Kiki (10/87-10/21/04 12:00am) small, all-over tortie
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-05-2009, 09:05 PM
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Re: how to teach him to not eat the cat??

I basically played the "look at that" game with my dogs regarding the cats. Now they very rarely chase the cats. Nash, if the cats are doing their nightly "zoomies", will run and get his basket ball and hold it in his mouth while they run by.

My tailless cat was the most difficult because she will run if the dogs go up to her. My other one will stand her ground and smack them in the face. Its funny to watch all my dogs respecting the wishes of an 8 pound cat.

Lloyd (big black mix)
Nash (rescue GSD)
and the cats
Snickers (DSH tortie)
Jake (DLH tuxedo blk & Wht)
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-02-2010, 01:57 PM
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Re: how to teach him to not eat the cat??

I wanted to thank everyone with their contributions (and the op of course) for this post because I have been scratching my head with nearly the same situation. My cat has opted to become a night creature to avoid my dogs and I had hoped there was some reasonable way to manage this situation.

You guys gave me some great ideas... wish me the best! To the Op, good luck to you too!
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-02-2010, 10:57 PM
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This is very helpful to me as well so thanks for posting. I have two new girls and wereas I think they are the two sweetest puppies ever, my two older cats will tell you other wise. The first encounter went sort of like this: two puppies hiding behind my legs, Jack (one of the cats) coming to see what was going on, getting upset due to previous experiences with dogs, and the girls going into "defense" mode.
I also feel bad because I've had my boys for three years so it's really not fair to them that the girls come in and "take" thier home over
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-02-2010, 11:20 PM
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Lixx great info. TY
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-04-2010, 01:54 PM
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Jerzey and Koji seem to have a similar relationship to you pup and kitten. Koji LOVES to antagonize Jerzey. He runs by her, rolls on the floor in front of her, etc. anything to get her attention and to start a chase. Koji is a cat with a lot of personality but also a cat that won't take any and he puts Jerzey in her place quite often (she has the scars on her nose to prove it.)

Honestly, Jerzey will chase Koji around but, when he's done with it, he just jumps up on the table or on a chair and she leaves him alone. Jerzey kind of mouths but mostly it's just her big paws smacking the cat (and me! ) that need to be watched.

I don't know, Jerzey has never tried to bite him or hurt him, not since she was a little baby and they were raised together from about 6 months old onward and I've never had any problems. When I leave my apt. I even lock them in the room together.

To me, I'd say keep working on your "Leave it" command but also realize that if the cat REALLY wanted to avoid the dog s/he would! S/he obviously wants to play and knows where s/he can go to play but still have the upper hand (aka, playing through the kitty door or from the vase.) I think you can tell the different between "I want to chase you and play" and "My prey drive is kicking in and I am intent on getting you." Trust your instincts but definitely keep up with the training.

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Jerzey, Bi-color GSD. 4/23/08
Koji, spotted shelter kitty.
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