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11 mth old rescue - training

1404 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Janism
I'm guessing a lot of people may disagree with my decision but I have rescued a beautiful 11 mth GSD and I live in an apartment. I have had her for about a month. My girl gets a great deal of exercise ie. 2.5 - 5 hours a day. She does get time off leash and luckily I have friends/family with dogs and fenced backyards. I also take her in the park behind our building and play fetch with a 50 ft leash.

I have 2 training issues to ask about: barking - I know I could have trained her to bark/quiet with positive reinforcement. However, I found this confusing and the timing difficult. I was also told I could let her bark 3 times and then correct the behavior - I also found this difficult and confusing. So I chose to correct- period. I tell her no and if she is heading toward the sound ie. someone passing by the door I head her off and direct her back to where she was, at this point if she has not already stopped I make her "down" and then she stops. I only do this when she barks at things such as the neighbours passing by, I don't correct her for barking when people come to our door. As soon as she is quiet, I say "quiet" and give treats/praise for that behavior. I think this process is dominant/intimidation and I know I have chosen the easy way out but it does work and I do have to be respectful of my neighbours. In some ways I think it is less harsh than an e-collar but do you think this could negatively effect our relationship?

2nd issue - our cat. I was told she was socialized with cats however, the first time she saw our cat she went nuts. She was in her crate and she barked and lunged. We have kept them separate and bring them together for supervised visits (a trainer suggested this strategy). DH and I correct any barking (over-excitement/aggression) towards the cat and give treats when she is calm. However, the cat is also aggressive towards her and when she is allowed to sniff the cat - the cat growls. We always hold the cat and try to calm it as well. The cats behaviour leads to more excitement/fear/aggression? In all of our attempts everything is ok until the cat reacts and this triggers the dog. My question is: do you think I should just let the cat have her home back and keep the dog on a leash in the house, correcting her for every negative behaviour toward the cat (and rewarding the positive), do I just continue with supervised visits hoping things will improve, or is there some other solution? The trainer I talked to said that it is important not to create anxiety with the presence of the cat. That is why she felt the cat should not be out walking around in front of the dog until there was a positive association. I just don't know when it is time to help the dog understand that the cat lives here too. I am also aware that some dogs are aggressive towards cats and never learn but I seriously hope that is not the case. Anyway, thank you for any input. Sorry for the length.
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I got my rescue GSD at 1 1/2 yrs and I supervised her with the cat while the cat had the run of the house. I always made sure the cat had someplace to go like under the couch or behind it, that the dog couldn't get to. Rosie would retaliate if the cat tried to scratch her so I had to make sure nothing happened. It is now 1 1/2 yrs later and Rosie and the cat get along really well, but the cat still instigates things and it always looks like Rosie is trying to kill her but she also lets the cat rub up on her face when she is just laying there.
The cat still sits under a chair and waits while Rosie lays there wagging her tail, waiting for the cat to run, when she could easily get under the chair - just a dining room type. But she waits until the cat runs before she does anything.
I just started out with the cat shut out until I was there with Rosie on a leash. I would tell her to 'be nice' and it did take a number of months, but when the cat was under the couch I let Rosie drag the leash instead of keeping her with me. They kind of worked it out on their own once Rosie learned she couldn't attack the cat. The cat started taking liberties then and testing the waters.
I still don't know how she would be with other cats though because she still gets all wound up when the neighbor's cats are hunting on our place.
Good luck with your two, and it probably won't take you as long as it did Rosie. She had lots of lack of training to overcome.
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As long as she gets exercise and housebroken normally and goes out often to potty (which it sounds like you have covered) there is no reason you cannot have a GSD in an apartment. It's not always ideal, and will sometimes frustrate you a bit, but an owner that lives in an apartment that physically and mentally exercises their dog is 200% better than someone who lives in a house and just throws the dog in the back yard and then in the basement to be alone when they come in.

1. Nothing wrong with teaching quiet, especially in your situation. You're not lighting her up with an e-collar or administering a prong correction for barking, you are just rewarding good behavior and expressing what is not good behavior. As long as you do it consistently and calmly this will in no way hurt your relationship.

2. Don't have cats, but here is a great article about dogs and cats coexisting... .

Good luck.
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I was babysitting one night for my grandchildren, my daughter said you can bring Fancy if you want[ my gsd] so off we go to babysit, she has cats, one named Bubbie, greeted my egar to pounce gsd, out of no where comes three cats after Fancy , she ran up on porch!, the next morning when I let her out to go pee, the cats were there and she wouldn't leave the porch, it was soooooooooo funny, she now respects cats!!!!
that's cute mdlcb01, I wish mine was afraid of the cat :). Mary j, how did you know when you could trust your two together?
First of all, welcome and thanks for rescuing!

Do you practice Nothing in Life is Free with your dog? I think it's all one big package. I have a senior cat and the guy in my avatar, Kai, had a lot of problems with my 15 yo cat at first. He would growl or bark at her and chase her when we were all out in the yard together. I got advice from a trainer to be very positive about the cat--"Look, there's Cleo" in a very happy voice--and to give the same command--Down--every single time he saw the cat, and of course follow with a reward. Pretty soon the idea was that he would automatically lie down when he saw the cat.

I only had him 5 months but he did get better with Cleo. Things really turned after he chased her up the stairs one day and then I heard (a dog) screaming. I raced up there and she had him cornered in the closet. He was shaking like a leaf! After that he stopped chasing her!

However, I always made sure that Cleo had an easy escape route (he jumped a high barrier to chase her up the stairs!) and safe places to go.

I bought a gate at petsmart that is extra high and has a little kitty door in the bottom.

Rafi, my new guy, is great with Cleo. I checked him out with cats first though!
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Hi Bow WowMeow
The other day I went on my breeder's website and saw the puppy I had chosen not to get when I chose to rescue. It was sad because she is so beautiful but I'm really glad I have my girl. I only practice some aspects of NILIF. My girl is not very dominant but I do make her sit and be released before eating. She must wait to leave her crate and to go through doors. I also use retrieving sessions for training ie. make her sit before I throw the toy but I don't do it every time I throw because I want to make sure she has some time just to be a dog and have fun. I also don't make her sit etc. for my affection which I could add. I do make her sit and down when the cat is out and offer a reward so now I can just add that when I start leaving the cat out. I guess part of the problem is I don't want her barking every time she sees the cat but I'm just going to have to deal with it.
The gate with the cat door sounds like a good idea I'm going to look for one. Thanks for the advice :).
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