How do I train her to get along with cats? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-18-2018, 12:14 AM Thread Starter
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How do I train her to get along with cats?

Hi guys! I have 4 cats and 2 dogs. My GSD, Hazel, was rescued, and she has an agression issue with cats. She used to bark like crazy, but she seems to have gotten better. We brought up a cat in a crate today, and she got rougu, attempting to bite a hole through the crate. Part of me thinks she just wants to play, but the other part screams aggressive behavior. I believe many have experience with this situation, as GSD's have high prey drives and chase cats commenly. Please help me out here. Thanks a million!
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-18-2018, 03:54 AM
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How you approach getting dogs and cats to be comfortable with one another depends alot on who came first, and the ages and temperaments of the individuals involved! Some cats will never be comfortable near a dog, just like some dogs will never be comfortable around cats. But IME those are exceptional cases. For the most part, I always just let them get used to each other at their own pace, without a lot of fanfare! I don't go out of my way to keep them apart, and I step in whenever one animal is bothering another, before it escalates into a chase or a fight. Beyond that just let them figure it out!

With kittens I've always just brought them in, had the dog or dogs lie down, then place the kitten on the floor in front of them to sniff (with me right there, of course). Usually that's all it took for them to be friends from then on. I think keeping them separate often times builds up a lot more intrigue and excitement which can lead to ongoing chasing etc.

If your dog seems overly aggressive toward cats I'd suggest treating that like you would any other training issue. Let her know that chasing or bothering the cats is not acceptable, watching them is okay. It's just like any other house rule!
Good Luck!
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-18-2018, 07:01 AM
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In addition to what Tim has said, I used and still use a kiddie gate for one room. It's a low one to accommodate my 15 year old cat, I also have two ferals in my home. If my dog chased, they have an escape. However, I also taught the 'leave it' command. Within a few months my old cat was rubbing up on the dog and one of the ferals saunters in and out of the rooms with no issue. The female feral won't go anywhere near him, unless he is in a down/stay, then she'll walk by to get to her food bowl. Outside cats are fair game for him, but the ones inside he no longer bothers.

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-18-2018, 08:11 AM
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My cats were first in the house before we even considered getting dogs. My shiba, when we got him at 8 weeks, just viewed them as puppies and kept trying to play with them. The cats weren't too happy, but they tolerate him now.
We got Katsu at 4 months, and her first reaction to the cats was hackles up, tail wagging and barking. Never seen a cat before. The cats didn't run which I am grateful for. She never got the opportunity to chase as I kept her on a leash. We also used baby gates to block off sections of the house that were "cat only" areas to give them a place to go for a break from the dogs.


My mother had a cat aggressive Chow mix when I was growing up. We already had cats at the time and didn't know until we brought her home and the dog ripped a chunk of skin out of my cat's tail. My mom ended up hiring a private trainer who taught us to enforce a strong "leave it" command and to crate train the Chow. I don't remember everything we did for this dog, but eventually she was accepting of our cats - any neighborhood cats though, were fair game.
If your dog seems to you like s/he is aggressive when s/he sees your cat, I think it would be safest for everyone involved if you brought in a canine behaviorist or trainer to evaluate the situation. I'd rather be safe than sorry.

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-18-2018, 09:26 AM
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Building on the excellent suggestions so far, I've always done the following:

1. Create a safe space for cats that has food, water, litter box (in a closet), toys, etc. The cat space should be comfortable *and* safe. Block the entry so that the cat can easily access its room (without jumping over a gate), but the dog cannot. Here's what the kind of gate system that I have; in my setup, the cat door is bungee corded open:

https://www.amazon.com/Carlson-0680P...words=cat+gate

2. Teach a Leave It command, without the cats present, then generalize the command to objects and cats. It's a very useful, potentially life-saving, thing for the dog to know. You can train the basics in multiple daily 5 minute segments over the course of a say a week. Can't find my favorite video link, but this one will do for now: Teach Your Dog to Leave It

3. Crate the pup whenever you're not home, or, if home, preoccupied. Do that until you are absolutely certain that the dog doesn't pose a threat to the cat.

Unless your pup has insane prey drive, teaching it to coexist with cats really isn't that hard. It takes clarity and consistency to drive the point home (i.e., the cats are MINE), but it can be done.

A final thought. Make sure that your expectations are realistic. We all want our animals to happily coexist, even becoming best buds. That's not always possible, however. For me, the bottomline has always been twofold: (1) You may NOT chase the cats or in any way assault them, including pawing them to death, and (2) Staring is verboten!

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-18-2018, 10:01 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tim_s_adams View Post
How you approach getting dogs and cats to be comfortable with one another depends alot on who came first, and the ages and temperaments of the individuals involved! Some cats will never be comfortable near a dog, just like some dogs will never be comfortable around cats. But IME those are exceptional cases. For the most part, I always just let them get used to each other at their own pace, without a lot of fanfare! I don't go out of my way to keep them apart, and I step in whenever one animal is bothering another, before it escalates into a chase or a fight. Beyond that just let them figure it out!

With kittens I've always just brought them in, had the dog or dogs lie down, then place the kitten on the floor in front of them to sniff (with me right there, of course). Usually that's all it took for them to be friends from then on. I think keeping them separate often times builds up a lot more intrigue and excitement which can lead to ongoing chasing etc.

If your dog seems overly aggressive toward cats I'd suggest treating that like you would any other training issue. Let her know that chasing or bothering the cats is not acceptable, watching them is okay. It's just like any other house rule!
Good Luck!




Thank you! This helps a lot. I have been keeping them apart and I guess that was my fault
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-18-2018, 03:35 PM
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I never got a handle on it off leash. Check out Lou Castle's e collar training for cat chasing. Requires a helper to manage the cat.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 06:05 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ausdland View Post
I never got a handle on it off leash. Check out Lou Castle's e collar training for cat chasing. Requires a helper to manage the cat.
Ok, thanks
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 06:33 PM
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-24-2018, 10:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you guys so much for all the responses! We are working with her and she is doing GREAT. Thanks again!
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