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Discussion Starter #1
Hi!

We want to add a GSD puppy to our family, and our biggest concern is our 2 (soon to be three cats).

The GSD breeder we would get the puppy from, breeds both cats and dogs (we got one of our kittens from her).

Her dogs are increadible and are raised with cats. She is confident that there will be no issues coming from the dog.

We are serious about training (bought all the Monks of New Skete books, The Smart Puppy, books by Patricia McConnell, by the "Dog Wisperer", etc.), are reading all the posts at this forum, articles, etc. -- we'll do crating, consistent training, etc.

We spend a lot of time with our cats (including walking on a leash daily). We'll also spend a lot of time with the dog. We don't have children -- so we give them all the time and love we have...

Still I'm so worried for our cats -- they are so loving, and trusting, and dog-like. They are also very playful and can run like crazy throughtout the house out of joy ...

My question is can you 100% trust a well selected, well bred, well trained puppy (and then dog) with the cats' safety?

Personality-wise, our cats are very affectionate while self-assured, so I think they will accept the puppy/dog..

All your thoughts and recommendations will be much appreciated!

God bless you and all your dear pets!
 

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This is a good question, and I'll be interested to see the answers. We've two cats and are looking at GSD pups or an 8 month old GSD. The cats have been around several dogs and have their claws, so I'm actually a little more worried about the pup than I am the cats, but I'll be interested to see the responses none the less.
 

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i had my dog first, and then got a kitten when he was about 1 1/2 years old. it took about a week for them to get used to each other. i kept them seperated unless i was home for the first few weeks. once i was confident that mikko wasn't going to hurt the kitten, i gradually left them home for more and more time together. they are left home together all day, every day, with no incidents. my parents cats and dogs are the same way, as are some of our friends. although they generally just ignore each other, they do like to sleep in the same room while we are gone. sometimes they cuddle (usually in the winter when the cat is cold), and they do play occassionally.

although it is possible to have this positive situation, not all dogs and cats are the same, and may take more training and getting used to each other. some people say they can never trust them alone together ever.
 

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i trust tilden 100% with both my cats, and i trust gia 100% with "her" cat and 99% with the kitten. i leave room for that 1% because kittens are annoying and gia can get annoyed easily. a couple of times ive seen her give a half bark warning to him then he gladly runs over and plays with tilden, leaving her alone.

she's been around cats since i got her at 9months, and ive never worried or had incidents. tilden was introduced to cats by me at the same age and where he tried to chomp Mica the first day, it was more of a jump up at the new toy type play chomp to get her down to his level where he proceeded to hit her with his paw until she scratched him & ran.

for some reason the cats like to stay up stairs when i leave the house (to look out the window at my truck leaving perhaps) and the dogs stay downstairs by the door (tilden crated) or lately, they've been in the backyard - so they separate themselves. there are also lots of places in my house that the cats can access and the dogs cant.
 

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No, I do not believe you can trust ANY dog 100%. They all have prey drive. Yes, in some it's hidden deeper than others but you never know what may trigger it.

That being said, can you make a home with a dog 100% cat safe? Yes!!

Just make sure the dog and cats are separated when you are not home. Have safe zones for the cats - places they can get that the dog cannot. Make sure they are both high AND low places.

I have owned dogs and cats. My boy Riggs is cat aggressive but respects me enough not to try anything. When we still had Zoe, out cat, they were separated when we were not home.

I have had cats killed by my dogs. One accidentally and one on purpose. One dog I kept, one I rehomed to a cat-free home.

There are no 100% guarantees in life but you can make it as safe as possible.

I'm trying to talk my husband into a new kitten! Riggs will not be happy but I miss having a feline in the house.
 

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I've always had both, and only ever had issue with one older dog and a kitten...it took 4 days for him to realize the kitten was not a critter, but a baby cat. The big and little cat were sitting aways away in profile together, and the light bulb went on, I saw it happen, and afterwards he accepted the kitten as a cat.

That's over 35 years, several of each. You hear stories of dogs killing cats, but I've never had a problem that wasn't worked thru, and never had an injury. Introductions must be supervised and controlled, but prudence and vigilance and strong pack leadership has always won in our house.

Crates were used in introductions. Calm leadership is important.
Mine snuggle, I've even had a male dog let a way too stray young kitten suckle until he had sore boobs! Not your average occurrence, granted, but it really happened.

Obviously a pup and a kitten are going to be pals easier than strange adults not used to the other species, or worse, those with unknown prior experiences that did not go well. It can be much trickier to reach nirvana when dealing with unknown histories.
 

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I have three cats and had them all before I got my first dog, a GSD. I went with an adult dog from a reputable breeder, a dog that did not have a reputation for chasing cats. She does have high prey drive, but luckily dogs don't generalize well, so while she chases squirrels and rabbits in the yard, she has never gone after my cats. Like Jean, I will never trust any dog 100%. I have several "safe" zones for my cats: the front room of the house is gated off so cats can go over/under but no dogs, there's a cat door in the basement door and the basement is cats-only, cats can fit under our bed but not dogs, some of our rooms have ledges and furniture that the cats can easily jump on but the dogs can't reach.
 

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Both of my dogs were adults when I adopted them. Cody had lived with a cat before and also had a pretty low prey drive. She pretty much ignored the cats and was 100% trustworthy.

I don't believe that Sheba had ever lived with a cat and the first time she saw one of my cats she growled. That was the first and last time. She was the foster and the dog I never meant to have and she had to learn very quickly that in the structure of my house, she is at the bottom of the pack. I have never had any issue with her and the cats, but I still never consider her 100% trustworthy. She's old and has slowed down alot and as much as it pains me sometimes when she whines because one of the cats decides to sleep on her bed, she knows she has never been allowed to correct one of the cats. I have continuously reinforced that even to the point of making sure they are fed first.
 

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My last shepherd raised two kittens as her own. A puppy will take a lot of patience. They have razor sharp teeth and dont realize their own strength as they grow. If you provide a lot of safe havens for the cats to escape to when they dont want to be pestered, you should have no problems. I have a foster right now that is not safe with cats at all, and I must keep them separated. My shepherd is a pest with them (she just turned 2 and was raised with them) but I trust her with them. One of the cats has appointed herself defender of the other cats and if she feels Ava has stepped outside her boundaries will jump in in a heartbeat. Ava has learned to respect the cats, she loves two of them and gives the third a wide berth. Sounds to me like you have the right idea though, you will need to protect them some and provide structure for the pup for what is and is not acceptable behavior, and let the cats take care of the rest. It will be really hard for a puppy not to play rough with his/her new "litter" mates. but just like they need to learn not to use teeth on people, they can learn the same with cats. However, this is work on socialization and expected behavior. Good luck and just make sure your kitties have a safe place to hide out and escape if needed. Puppy may not mean any harm, but darn those little shark teeth can hurt!!!
 

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On a side note, My Heidi girl even lived with ferrets....they played all the time and had a blast. They even played tag...LOL I wish I had a video, it was a hoot.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Greatly appreciate everybody's feedback, and, Betsy, your kind words mean a lot!

I am blessed by being able to work from home a lot -- so most of the time they will be under my supervision..

I can now see the criticality of safe havens and will examine the whole house with this in mind..

Greatly appreciate everybody's stories! If anything else comes to mind and you want to share -- please do!!

God bless!
 

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I have two GSDs and also have two cats, half sibling Maine Coons. Often, it's the attitude of the cats that determines how well everyone gets along. A cat that runs can become prey, in which case you'll need to do a lot of training so puppy doesn't chase. But a cat that stands its ground and is not intimidated by the puppy may do just fine.

As far as the "will they ever be trustworthy together" question, that remains to be seen and is determined by many factors. My dogs and cats are fine together when I'm around, even though they are not under constant supervision, but I don't leave them alone together when I'm not home. I'm pretty sure everything would be fine, but I'm not willing to risk the lives of my cats to find out. I have a safe room for the cats with a baby gate so they can eat and use their litter box in peace, and I put them to bed in their room every night. The dogs are crated in our room at night.

When we're at work the dogs have a garage pen with a dog door to an outside run, and the cats have the run of the house. My hubby is a general contractor with a home office, so he's sometimes around during the day, sometimes not, depending on the nature of the job he's working on. When he's home, the cats are loose, and the dogs are wherever they want to be, in or out.

Some people have had cats and dogs that got along great from day one with no work whatsoever. I've never been so lucky. I've had cats and GSDs together for 22 years (usually just one of each, but now I have two of each), and I've ALWAYS had to work on it, sometimes for months and months and months. But my cats are pretty dog savvy now, and know how to turn off prey drive by jumping up on furniture. At floor level - prey, at eye level - equals.

They got really good at reading our previous dog Cassidy. I worked so hard with her - my previous kitty Punkin died at 15 years old just a couple of months after we got Cassidy, so she never had the chance to get used to having a cat around. I waited 6 months to get another cat, and by then Cassidy was a year old wild child, and I was terrified that she'd hurt Elvis, who was a 3 month old, 4 pound kitten. He lived in the cat room for the first 4 months, and I brought her in daily to work on good, calm behavior near him. She got heavily reinforced for being good, and if she got too excited and blew me off, she got booted from the cat room. She quickly learned that she controlled the situation. As long as she behaved she could spend as much time with the kitty as she wanted. If she screwed up, it was over for the day. After that they had several more months of supervised visits in the rest of the house. She was highly leash reactive, so I couldn't put her on leash, and had to come up with other ways to distract her when she locked on.

I have not worked as hard with Dena & Keefer because they were both 9 week old puppies when I got them, and by then the cats were used to having a dog around. Elvis in particular has perfected the fine art of moving in slow motion, and if caught out at floor level will simply freeze in place rather than bolting.
 

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We have had cats and GSDs together for the past 11.5 years. We currently have 9 cats (I vacuum ALOT and have considered stock in a kitty litter company
). We don't have kids either, and our critters are our family. So it is very important that each is able to live a happy and healthy life with no threats or worries from the other critters.

Before Riley (our 16 mo GSD) came alone a couple of months ago, all of our cats coexisted peacefully with Lady and Kayle, our two GSDs. (We lost Kayle in April to cancer). Kayle had a moderate to high prey drive but was taught from the beginning that she was at the bottom of the pack and the kitties were NOT prey and not to be chased and were to be ignored. After a few months of training with her, she ignored the cats for the rest of her life. Lady and Kayle is/was so tolerant of the cats that the cats were able to get nibbles out of their food bowls without any hints of aggression or worries on my part EVER. Lady even has her "own" kitty, Jacobean. He actively seeks her out to rub on and get lovins from. And she licks and loves on him.

Riley is a very gentle and sweet puppy, but a PUPPY that is rambunctious. He has a low prey drive, doesn't see the kitties as prey, but fellow playmates. He doesn't realize his size in comparison, and still tries to chase some of them when he is really frisky. The problem is, when he is really frisky, some of the cats run from him to get to higher ground because he is being so wild. Keep in mind when I say chase, I mean the puppy-bouncing, feet-flopping, front-to-back-wheelie-poppin, romper-room romp of a joyous puppy. NOT a 'chase the kitty to the corner and kill it' chase. That being said, it doesn't matter to me. A chase is a chase and still a big no-no.

What has been interesting is that with some of our cats, Riley just does not care to even try and initiate play with them. However, they are the cats that I know would not tolerate playing with a GSD because they have always been ignored by our dogs. Sometimes several cats can streak by him full blast chasing each other and he just doesn't care. Riley has his own kitty also - Abby. She is the only one he will lick and try to "chew" on and play with. She likes to play with him too, and they will have boxing sessions with her in the kitchen chair playfully swatting at him while he tries to lick and nibble on her. Riley is always gentle with her in this regard and I do allow the behavior while I am right there supervising.

My biggest worry with Riley is he is mildly food aggressive with the cats. I have to stand by him and watch him closely when he eats,because he does growl at the cats if they get within a foot of his bowl while he is eating. This is much improved, but still not completely resolved. He has no food aggression to us or Lady though. We are working on it with the kitties.

When adults and trustworthy on all fronts, our dogs have free run of our house. Our cats do as well (except for our 19 yo who has her own room and comes out during the days as she wants). With Riley, he has free run of our living room, kitchen, laundry room one bathroom. These areas are baby-gated, so the cats still have free run of the house (horizontally and vertically) and a break from him if they want. I do not leave Riley unsupervised anywhere, unless he is safely in his crate. And until I have absolutely no doubt as to his trustworthiness with the kitties, he will not be left alone with them.

When I was looking for Riley, besides health/hips/breeder issues, prey drive, temperment, and calmness of the parents were at the top of my requirements because of our cats (and other reasons obviously). There is one breeder that I would LOVE to have gotten a pup from, but I know that her dogs have incredibly strong prey drives, and I was nervous that it would be difficult to control such a strong drive even after a pup was raised with our cats.

So yes, I know that GSDs can be trusted 100% with cats...BUT not without work on your part, and DEPENDING on the GSD. Sounds like you have a great start on it with your breeder and your commitment to your critters. Just never forget that the worries go both ways. I am adamantly opposed to declawing cats. However, I strongly suggest keeping your cats' "daggers" trimmed weekly so they don't put out any puppy eyeballs!
 

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Cassidys Mom and Bev, thank you so very much for your insights!

I find them invaluable and will be saving the thread for future reference!

My deepest sympathies on your losses of your beloved dogs -- what a blessing you've had them in your lifes!

I'll post updates on how the puppy selection will go -- but in a nutshell, we'll fully rely on the breeder to select the right puppy for us as she understands them so very well and is brutally honest about her kitties and dogs : )

We will be trimming claws (thank you for this!) -- they hate it and we haven't been trimming as they are such good kittens and use their scratches and never use their claws on us (and nearly never on furtniture).. We'll start doing it in preparation for the puppy and will be taking to the gromer for that if needed..

God bless you and your families (including the dogs and the kitties)!

Tanya
 

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Thanks Tanya! I don't trim the cats' nails, mostly because they are squirmy little buggers, and it's practically impossible for me to do it by myself, and my hubby is useless with the cats.
I have it done when they're at the vets, but that isn't very often. I WISH Elvis & Emmy would pop the dogs a couple of times - it would probably go a long way towards establishing that they're not to be messed with. But they actually like the dogs, even though they find them VERY annoying at times, lol! If you've got cats that will fight back, it's a good idea to keep the nails short and blunt.

They used to initiate play with Cassidy, and it was at that point that I knew they'd be okay. When she was tired and crapped out on the floor, they knew that the likelihood that she'd jump up and chase them was low, so they'd go over and rub their faces all over her. When she was amped and in play mode, they'd give her a wide berth. It was amazing how well they could read her.

So far, Dena & Keefer aren't relaxed around the cats enough for them to do that most of the time, but in the morning before work I go in and feed the cats, and often I'll let the dogs in for a few minutes, usually one at a time. The dogs are so busy sniffing the floor for crumbs of kitty food that jumped out of the bowls that they pretty much ignore the cats, and both kitties will jump down on the floor and rub on them. Elvis likes to walk back and forth under their bellies, lol!

But anywhere else, and at other times of the day, they'll definitely chase. I haven't worked anywhere near as hard with them (my bad!) because I never feared for my cats' lives like I did with Cassidy. Keefer in particular has extremely high prey drive, he'll chase anything that moves and tries to appropriate other dog's toys at the park. If you've got a Chuck-it, you're his new best friend! He scored 90 out of a possible 100 on the Volhard Canine Personality Profile, but he also has very high pack drive (80 out of 100), so he cares about the leader of the pack too (ME!), and obeying me. I just need to work on them more. It's been easy for me to be lazy about it with them because they don't mean the cats any harm, and the cats clearly are not terrified of them.
 

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Well, my gsd is 9months now, and we had the cat a year before the dog...the cat would just take off while our GSD was growing up. We got our GSD at 6 weeks old. I can say about 2 months ago they both got use to one another. I would say it took about 5months. But the cat still watches the dog cause now that our GSD is almost 90lbs. The cat does show our gsd who's boss. The dog doesnt get along with other cats..just ours but once a while we still keep an eye out..
 
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