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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My recent addition, Texas, a 3 month old Black Female GSD, seems to have a moderate to high ball and prey drive, or at least I think she does? My only concern is will she be able to adjust to my cats well and not ever attack them? I worry because we have 5 cats in our apartment (2 are mine and 3 are my sister's). :confused:

Prey drive example:
Whenever one of the cats runs or skips into the living room, Texas just wants to chase them. She becomes very alert and starts running after them. At one point, my walk was walking by and she reached over and mouthed at his back (I did correct her for this behavior). If she sees my cats sleeping underneath the table, she starts barking at them and then she walks under and chases them out. My cats are very aggressive or confrontational, they would never hurt a dog NEVER (they love dogs, well at least the ones that don't chase them). So, when Texas goes after them and tries to pin them down, they never hiss or scratch, just cry. Is this something I should worry about? How can I fix this?

Ball drive example:
Texas gets wired as soon as she sees a ball or animal running past. I have some balls for her, but I cannot use them for training (she does better with food). She tends to get very mouthy and starts jumping on me when I have a ball in my hands. Today, upon our walk, some children were playing with a Nerf ball and she went ballistic. I tried calming her down and putting her in a sit position to observe, but she kept screaming, barking, and lunging. At one point, a child walked by and tried to pet her and she snapped at the child without being able to bite him (I pulled the lead). Is this something I should be concerned about? Should I do away with balls?

Are these behaviors warning signs of anything or can I actually tone them down? She is 1/4 German line and the rest is American. Is this where her drive came from? Can these behaviors extend themselves to aggression with time? Should I worry for my cats? Is she a good fit for my cats? I just want to make sure everyone will be fine and live harmoniously with each other. Does anyone's GSD get along with cats?

All suggestions and opinions are welcomed. Thank you.

p.s. I walk her 3 times a day for 15 to 30 minutes (depending the time I have work), Obedience training is done everyday for 30 minutes, and I play with her after training and our walks for about 30 minutes to 1 hour. The rest of the time she spends with my sister, crate, or hanging out with us in the living room.
 

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Hi Rogue,

I would say that your puppy is being a normal puppy, but yes, she probably does have a high prey drive. If you have her pedigree, put the link up on the forums so some of the experienced members can tell you what you have.

As for kitties, I have a kitten and my girl does chase and play with her all the time. I allow it inside, but never outside. I've read too many posts here where their GSD's did fine inside with the cat(s), but outside, they kill them. I taught Liisi "gentle" when she'd try and bite at my hands or the kitten. When she gets rough with the kitten, I say in a loud and firm voice "leave it". Sometimes she will obey, but other times she will not. That's when I have to physically go remove the kitten. From what I can see, Liisi is just playing, but I will never let them be together unsupervised. I just don't trust her that much yet.

I'm sure some of the more experienced members will be up shortly and will chime in about their experiences with kitties.

Good luck with Texas. I'm glad to see you're still giving her a chance. :)
 

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I got my GSD when he was 11 weeks old, he is 1.5 years old now. When I got him I had 2 cats, they hated him then and they still hate him now. 5 months ago I got another kitten and she is best friends with my GSD. They absolutely love each other. The kitten accepted my other dog, a GSD/Husky mix right away too and he had never been around cats. They play and cuddle all of the time.

I would teach your puppy the "leave it" command ASAP, always supervise them when they are by each other. They might get along and they might not, I believe it all has to do with BOTH of their personalities.
 

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This is my 8 month old girl Lakota with my 17yr old cat Spitz. Lakota will chew his head, poor Spitz has been getting his head chewed all his life. He lets them know when hes had enough.
I have 2 cats, this cat thinks hes part dog. My other cat is Misty, female, 10 yrs old skitish since day one. Lakota wants to play with her, but Misty will swat at her when Lakota gets pushy. I watch them very closely to determine if Lakota shows any signs of wanting to eat kitty. She clearly wants to play and bows to her all the time. They are fine when Misty first walks in, she'll greet Lakota by rubbing on her legs. Once Misty has had enough and wants to be left alone, she'll swat. I guess this triggers Lakota's prey/play drive into high gear. If kitty runs or jumps up on the furnature, Lakota gets so focused/obsessed, the chase begins and will even jump up on the furnature.
I only give commands once, but she will continue. So I tried something I don't know if others will agree with, but it has gotten results.
When Lakota jumps up on the couch to get Misty, I will get up "NO, get down" usually I will grab the collar and assist her. The next time she jumps up on the couch, I squirt her with water. The way I figured is I already told you no, get down. She was definately not thrilled and almost immediately got off the couch. I've noticed that most times now she will obey the first command to avoid the squirt. I just started this last week.
My trainer told me firm correction, zero tolerance for pursuing kitty.
Would I trust them alone, no probably never.
 

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This is a picture of my 1.5 year old GSD Sinister and "his" kitten Isolde.
 

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My pup wanted to go nuts for the cat. Over time with guidance, he has learned not to ruffle the kitty. Dogs have innate drives. You have to gently guide that puppy to adulthood regarding what is acceptable and how to behave.

I kept a leash and collar on Hogan around the cat as youngster. When he went for kitty, I stopped him and redirected him to me for interaction, praise and treats sometimes. He began to learn what "no kitty" meant. It didn't happen overnight. He had to be taught.

I do think it is the American lines in him. My friends am dogs chase the cats way worse than my working line dogs. JUST kidding!! It is a matter of the training.

I have dogs who have been around the 18 year old kitty for 10 of her years. I still don't leave the kitty alone with them. Not worth the risk.
 

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I don't think it's ever too early to introduce a "leave it" command to your dog, especially if your dog likes to chase the kitty. It sounds to me like your pup's kitty chasing is just a normal, playful, puppy behavior, but you want to obviously make sure she doesn't obsess about chasing and catching kitty and that she doesn't harm kitty, so it's best to start training her to stop the chasing behavior on command.

"Leave it" is a good place to start and you will also be able to use the "leave it" command for other things you want her to leave alone, like that annoying dog you might meet on walks, or some food dropped on the ground.

With young dogs or dogs new to your home, an easy way to teach this is to use a lead to have your dog attached to you, or use a drag lead that you can step on or grab if you need to get control of your dog ASAP.

So, when you see the dog focus in on the cat, catch her BEFORE she goes into chase/play/prey mode, step on or grab the lead, and tell her "leave it". Ideally, you'll have some treat or toy on you to reward her with as soon as her focus shifts from the cat to you so she learns that "leave it" means something pleasant will happen for her if she, in fact, leaves it.

If the dog doesn't "leave it", then you already have control of her by the lead and can redirect her to a toy / tug / treat or correct her for attempting to chase.

Either way, when you tell her "leave it", a consequence follows. Either she leaves the cat alone and something good happens, or she doesn't, and she receives a correction.

Now, that said, depending on her level of drive and instinct, you may never be able to fully trust her around the cats and you may have to use the "leave it" command frequently. In that case, obviously don't leave the dog loose in the house without anyone supervising, and it's generally a good idea to also have a "safe place" for the kitties where the dog cannot bother them, such as a room that's gated off or cat trees where they can sit out of reach.

FWIW, I've got a high-drive Malinois, two cats, and, currently, a bunny. :D It *can* be done. :D

 

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It definitely can be done- if she has a high prey drive, you may have to settle for having her be able to be safe around the cats when you are home, but always separating them when you are away.
Our dog has a VERY high prey drive and when we first got her, we were worried we would have to return her (she is a rescue) because she was so interested in the cats. She would go nuts barking and lunge for them (we introduced them at first with her crated and then on a leash) every single time she saw them. It didn't help that they would run away, which increased her interest. We got her at the beginning of May, and it is only in the past month that we have been able to have the cats out (we have a baby gate up with a cat door so they can get to their room with litter boxes etc) and Regen on a leash and have her stay quiet and nonreactive. We used counterconditioning (there's a great article on the clicker training site) to get to this point.
But, we didn't think she would ever even get to this point. I'm pretty hopeful that they'll be able to coexist while we're home in the next month or two. Don't give up, and definitely manage the environment so that she can't chase them- that will just reinforce her drive and interest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank your for all your suggestions and stories; I really appreciate it. :)

For now, I decided to minimize freedom in the apartment when the cats are out (she will be leashed to where I am at, in order to supervise her actions) and only play with her outdoors (in order to avoid stimulating her prey drive around the cats). I removed balls from her toy basket and incorporated raw hide bones and a plastic squeaky weight (any toys that don't resemble a fluffy kitty or can dash across the apartment). I hope this will help me avoid any conflicts in the future.
If anyone has any other suggestions, opinions, or stories to share, please feel free to do so. Thank you. :)
 

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Those are good measures to start with. With time, she will come to accept the cats as members of the pack and not see them as prey items.

Here is my 1/2 West German working line + 1/2 Czech working line 18 month old Schutzhund dog with one of my cats:


I have three cats, and he mothers and cares for them - as when my big Orange bruiser of a cat got in a fight and had some open sores on his face, Gryffon would hold him down and lick him clean. He did this everyday until the sores healed.

Love this shot - they both look like they are surprised at being caught snuggling!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Castlemaid,
I love the pictures; your pets are gorgeous! I hope my dog ends up as loving and caring as Gryffon. =)
 

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Jax will chase and harrass any cat so I would have to say she has a pretty good prey drive. But in the house, with Cracker, she learned Leave It. I didn't realize the Leave It meant get off the ottoman and go sleep somewhere else because the cat came over to sleep next to her until yesterday. :crazy:

She will occasionally chase Cracker when he's making alot of noise but for the most part she seems to defer to him. So yes, they can certainly live with cats. :)

What really impresses me is Chris's cat living with the bunny!!!
 

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In my experience, it can take some time but if you start early you can often teach them that cats are not for chasing, and are part of the "pack".
I've had several dogs with high prey drives who would never chase my cats, even though they'd be quick to chase ferals. Bianca loves to chase critters but she never tries it with my cat, even when they chase each other past her nose, or run and jump OVER her head.
 

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I think it all depends on the cat.

My tabby would attack Dakota when she was a puppy and approached him I worked on it slowly. I had family members hold the cat on their lap and I would put Dakota in a down stay with many treat offereings. I would pat the cat, treat the dog.

When I saw the cat enter the room (rarely), I would put her in a down stay and offer more treats. Eventually, the cat figuered out that he did not have to run. Now Dakota will approach him for a sniff, and he has walked between her legs. They are not "friends" but you can see that Dakota now gives him respect and even allows him to sleep on her bed and in her kennel.

My other cat, forget it, I is not even willing to try.
 
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