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I have two cats and of course Max who is now almost 6 months old. He has gone through obidience school. I have read all the threads here about dogs/cats using crates to train them to get used to each other....have crated cats...have crated Max...nothing works, Max is insane with the cats period.

My biggest fear is he is going to kill one of my cats. In the 4 months that we have had Max he has gotten to both cats several times. Sasha, my long hair has been unlucky enough to get the brunt of it as she is not as quick as Leo. Max has gotten her into his mouth and attempted to shake her. I have seen what a Shepherd can do to an animal by this method as my old GSD killed a huge possum in this manner in a matter of seconds.

We have our house gated so that the cats can have safe spots, but in order to get to these spots, they do have to go through the danger zone. Normally if Max is not crated the cats will jump up unto the newel post and wait for me to notice them so that I can go pick them up and bring them into the downstairs safe area. Sometimes, they don't wait and Max is on them like white on rice.

The last attack was the one that scared me the most and both my husband and I were just about done with Max because of fear for our cats. He even had me call the breeder to ask to take him back. I did call and the breeder was willing to rehome him but she made a suggestion that we try first. She suggested we use the shock collar on him. She said she has had to use it one one of her pups who was very prey driven as Max is because he was getting at chickens.

We got off the phone. I was crying because I really do not want to get rid of Max. DH too was having second thoughts. He is a handful, there is no doubt about it, needs to be watched like a hawk at all times he is uncrated as he is also destructive, but I still love him as does my husband. We just do not want my cats to be hurt because of this.

So we put off buying the collar. Since then he has gone after both cats several times although has not actually made it to where he had either in his mouth (I started keeping his leash on him so I could catch him as was suggested).

My cats were used to dogs as up until recently we had our other GSD and a black lab. Never had a problem with them with either cat. GSD would chase cats every once in awhile but when she got up to them she would just lay down and whimper wanting to be friends with them. So Sasha every now and then seems to forget that Max is not Lexi and will wander into the room and it starts. Leo, being Leo, is a tease and will sit on the stairs while the dog goes out of his freakin mind. All he has to do is see a cat and he goes into nutso mode.

So today UPS shows up, DH informs me the collar he ordered came in. I am upset about it. I think it is so drastic and cruel. On the other hand, this is a drastic situation and losing my cats due to us bringing a high prey drive dog into their house freaks me out as well. I would never forgive myself if I lose a cat because of this.

Has anyone had a situation so critical that they have had to resort to this? I already told DH I want no part of it and will not participate in this at all. I will continue watching Max like a hawk and handling it the way I have.

I know I am rambling about this. I am just so upset that it has come to this. My breeder has told me that she too believes with Max's behavior that he will end up killing a cat, that it is just a matter of time. She says she never suggests using the collar unless the situation is highly critical which she believes this one is. She was the one that first suggested the crating of the cats to me and had been trying to give me support over all these months. I do trust her and believe she knows what she is talking about.

Finally, she did say that Max would be prime material for the state troopers who are always looking for dogs like him. She would have to keep him until he reaches a year before they take him into their program. I am just so confused. Don't want to let him go, don't want my cat's hurt...don't want Max hurt by shocking him either.

HELP! Is there any other way?
 

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Can't you just separate the animals? Many people manage to do this even with dogs who are not other-dog friendly. You make certain parts of the house off-limits to Max and other parts off-limits to the cats and then you enforce that very strictly.

I personally think punishing a dog with high prey drive with shocks is a bad idea and unfair. This is another reason it's a good idea to bring a mature dog into the home who has already proven himself with other animals - rather than a pup who is an unknown quantity.

dd
 

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First, let me say that I am so sorry that you are stuck in this situation. I know this must be very hard for you. Hang in there!
Unfortunately, I can't give you any advice regarding dogs w/ cats because we don't have cats. However, I can tell you that my boyfriend and I are ready to resort to the shock collar, too, but for a different reason.
My Lab, Bella, has a bad habit of running off into the woods whenever she can slip through the door of my screened-in porch. She takes off like a bullet and totally ignores our calls.
This is very dangerous as we have a two-lane paved road that runs right in front of our house that people tend to speed down on their way to the nearby neighborhood down the road. I don't want Bella running into the road and getting hit, so we are talking about using the shock collar to reinforce the idea that she needs to come when called.
Bella knows all her basic obedience (sit, down, here, stay, etc.). She knows her name. She is just ignoring us because she knows she can. Given the danger she puts herself in, my boyfriend and I feel it's time to give her a wake up call.
This does not mean we intend to be cruel to her. In fact, I'm going to have some friends come over to show me how to work the collar before we actually use it, because my big fear is using it the wrong way and just hurting the dog rather than accomplishing anything.
I too believe that the shock collar should only be used in extreme cases, but after reading your post I believe that you're there. Let me also say that one of my GSDs is a working dog and I know that, for some very driven dogs, being a pet just isn't going to satisfy them. They need a job. If you decide that Max needs a working home, there's nothing wrong with that.
Good luck with whatever you choose to do. It will get better!
 

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Sorry, editor2, but your dog is not "putting herself" in a dangerous situation - you are. You can fix the doors so that she can't slip out. I too live on a busy road and there are many ways to deal with that situation without resorting to electric shocks.

It saddens me that the shock collar is now the preferred tool for people. Next we'll be using them on small children. JMO.

dd
 

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Jarn thanks for the link. I have read it and am sending it to DH to read before he attempts using this collar not knowing what he is doing. According to this article, that can make a real monster out of Max.

DD trust me, this is not something I want to do. We have attempted to seperate both cats and dog but it is not really possible by the set up of our house. My cats have free reign upstairs as we keep a gate on the stairway. They also have two rooms downtairs, kitchen where their food is, and den where they like to look out the window. Actually they have 3 rooms downstairs because I have a dining room with French doors (that keeps Max out) that is accessed through the kitchen for the cats. In order to get through to these spaces cats have to come into the foyer/hallway to go down hall to those two rooms. Max is only allowed in living room and foyer/hall. It is this way because Max has to be where we are (he hates being seperated from us and will whine and go bonkers if we are in a room he is not in) and we are usually in the living room.

So Max is already extremely limited to where he can go, so much so that I actually feel bad for him. Cats are all over upstairs and have some rooms downstairs. I have even tried putting their food/water bowls upstairs to see if they would stay up there since their litter box and all bedrooms are up there...they do not stay up there. They like roaming the house. If I attempt to shut them into one room up there they scratch like heck to get out as soon as you shut the door or shortly after. Paint has been scratched off all doors that we have attempted to shut cats into.

I have even tried to shut Max into my bedroom which I will never attempt again. He tore apart my pillows, pulled down drapes and gauged the door to get out. He does not like being secluded without us period.

I am not "preferring" to use a shock collar. Just the opposite. I want to find another solution. I just have tried every possible situation I could think of or have been advised to by my own breeder, Max's trainer and others I have read on this board. For us this is a last resort as nothing else has worked. So I basically see it this way...dead cat, give dog away, or use collar. It seems to me where I do not want to get rid of the dog I love to pieces, there is only one option left. I just have to get my mind around using this collar which I have not been able to do so far.
 

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Cindy, when I got Elvis, Cassidy was a year old, 80 pound, wild child of a dog. I had lost my previous kitty Punkin at 15 years old just a couple of months after we got Cassidy, so she hadn't been around cats much. I waited 6 months to get another one because she was just too rowdy and excitable and I couldn't trust her. Elvis was 3 months old, weighed 4 pounds, and was about the size of Cassidy's head. I was TERRIFIED that she'd hurt, or worse, kill him.

So the first 4 months after Elvis came home he lived in the spare bedroom. I set it up as the cat room, with the food, litter box, and a cat tree. I spent about 20 minutes with him every morning before work, and every evening when I got home. I'd come out and make dinner, and go back in for another hour or two before bedtime. I hardly saw my husband during that time, but I wanted to be able to spend time with my new kitty and make sure he was safe. Sometimes Tom would take Cassidy somewhere with him, and I'd let Elvis out to explore the rest of the house.

Usually the recommendation is to keep the dog on leash. Cassidy was severely leash reactive, and nothing was guaranteed to ramp her up out of control faster than putting her on a leash around Elvis, so that was instantly out of the question. Another technique is to put the dog in a crate and bring the cat around. Well, leash reactivity is just one of many forms of barrier frustration, and putting her in the crate caused a similar reaction - she saw Elvis, she exploded, he freaked out and ran. So much for plan B.

The key to having them get along was to have lots and lots and lots of opportunities for the two of them to be in close proximity with Cassidy calm and Elvis able to feel safe, while they got used to seeing and smelling each other. I had daily supervised visits where I brought Cassidy into the room. Because it was a small enclosed space, there wasn't a lot of room for Elvis to run and trigger prey drive, or for her to chase him. Plus, he could hang out on the cat tree, retreating to the top if he felt threatened.

I sat on the floor with Cassidy, put her in a down, and rewarded calm behavior. I got a special cheese filled bone that she only got in the cat room. She could lay on the floor and chew her bone, she could get up and sniff him if he ventured down the cat tree, but she had to stay calm and gentle. If she got too excited and blew me off, she was banished from the room and her bone was put away. She was very interested in the kitty, and wanted to spend time with him, so I put that totally within her control. As long as she played by my rules she could stay in the room with us. If she blew it, I told her "that's it, you're done!" and tossed her out.

Sometimes we'd be in the room, and she was calmly chewing her bone, but Elvis wouldn't come down to visit. So I'd make her leave the room, coax him down his tree, and put him in his carrier. I'd let her back in, put her back in a down with her bone, and put Elvis on the floor right in front of her. Fortunately, Elvis was curious and interested (I don't know that I'd do this with a terrified cat), so he was fine with being in close proximity to her as long as he was safe in his crate. I fed them both treats and talked to them, petting Cassidy with slow soothing strokes as she chewed her bone. They'd sniff noses through the bars of the carrier, and I heavily rewarded such exchanges.

After the first 4 months I started doing supervised visits in the whole house where I let him out, but only for short periods where I was able to give them my full attention. Having Cassidy on leash would have been easier, but that was impossible, so I used a citronella collar. I didn't really want to use an aversive because I wanted the sight of the kitty to always have a positive association, but the citronella would interrupt her long enough for me to get her back in control. If she charged him, I'd press the remote, and then she'd stop and sniff the floor to see where that smell was coming from, and I could mark and reward her for stopping the charge.

I'd also taught her the "find it" command from an early age, which meant that there were treats on the floor. I started doing tons of find it work with her, initially tossing a handful of tiny treats AT her, a technique recommended in the Difficult Dog class that we took for her reactivity. A dog totally focused on a sight or smell will have their hearing virtually turned off, so simply giving a command won't always work. The tactile sense of the food hitting her would get her attention, and she'd break off the cat and start sniffing around for the food. Sometimes I'd do a rapid fire of treats, one after the other, bouncing them off her back. Eventually, it got to the point where both Cassidy AND Elvis were on the floor together scarfing down treats together, lol! I knew at that point we were getting there.

I also worked on focus exercises, doing "watch" with her sitting on the floor in front of me while I was on the couch. I started by marking and rewarding a single second of eye contact and worked up to where she had to watch me for at least 5 seconds for the reward. I had my treat bag in my lap, and the ultimate challenge was for her to hold eye contact while Elvis was trying to dive headfirst into the treat bag.


Even after a year, she was still very excited by the cats, (I got Emmy 9 months later), but I was fairly confident that she wouldn't hurt them, even unintentionally, so I stopped watching them every second, although I NEVER left them alone when we weren't home. They learned to read her very well, and knew when to give her a wide berth and when they could approach and groom her, and how to turn off her prey drive by jumping up onto a table or the couch - at eye level they were equals. The cats even started intiating play with her.

I only have a couple of pictures of her with the cats, here's one of Elvis giving her some love:



And the three of them together:



The cats also liked to commandeer her bed:



When she found them in there, defiantly holding court, she'd just wait for them to get out, lol!
 

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i know what you're going through....teagan has HUGE prey drive, i knew i was taking a risk adopting an untested adult from a shelter.

right now i separate the small animals from teagan. when teagan is crated at night they are allowed out from their rooms.

i have an e-collar, and have spoken to lou - he was great - the one thing that makes me nervous is that teagan, from the moment i've adopted her, gives very little warning before attacks. i can read her body language better now, part of it is also just knowing her style of how/when she'll go. i don't know her history, but i think her lack of obvious warning either comes from being inappropriately corrected, or that she's a smarty who figured out warnings don't equal success. but i'm not confident enough that i won't correct the wrong thing. what i've decided to do is use it to proof commands she already knows, and keep things fun, before moving into crittering protocols. i use it on myself for physio regularly (why pay to get stim when i've got that at home), but i need to incorporate it more into training w/teagan. i have a trainer who is willing to come work w/me when i first start using it, and i like him overall, but he doesn't follow lou's protocol, more the leerburg way, and i want to use lou's way, i just need to stop being such a wimp about it
 

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I have a suggestion. Does Max know the leave it command? It'd probably helpful.
 

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CassidysMom, I just read your post twice and I appreciate the time it took you to give me your detailed technique. The pics of all your babies together is tugging on my heart strings because I want more then anything for our babies to get to that point. I have had dogs and cats that close before and miss all that harmony...

With this set of animals there are a couple of issues above and beyond the dog wanting to chase and eat them. My cats are part of the problem because of how they are. Leo hates all other animals only likes people...Sasha likes other animals, just not Max and does not like people (even us lol). She was a rscue and from day one did not want to be bothered by people only when she was to be fed. She is not the type of cat that you can just go scoop up without her going all nutty and trying to scratch you. In other words, she is not friendly to people. She did this from day one and I probably should have brought her back but I was afraid if I did and she ended up in the wrong hands, she might either be put to sleep (if again returned to the rescue) or worse, getting someone who might actually hurt her due to her anti-social behavior, so we kept her. I love her b*tchy little self, but I have learned to stay away from her unless she comes to me which is not often. She bonded the most with DH but even attacks him often.

So we have a jealous cat (Leo) and a anti-social cat, so these are probably the worst two to try to work with Max on. Both cats run away from him, although Leo takes personal pleasure in standing on the other side of the gate, French Door etc and hissing at Max ensuring he will go out of his mind.

Leo hates to be confined and when you put him in the carrier he panics with or without Max around. Most of the work we did with the crate we did with Sasha as she will be crated, and in the big picture, because of the two, she would be the one to come around to Max sooner, if at all. Still it did not go well but that was Max. He can not see a cat and not lose it. They do not have to move at all. Just seeing their face and he is off the deep end, hackles up, ducked down ready to pounce. He is far from perfectly behaved without the cats, he picks and chooses when he will listen to any command. We still work every day with him, but he is not consistent. So introduce a cat into the pic and forget us. He is not hearing anything, he is all tuned out except to the cat.

We did the crate thing, starting off on far ends of the room and allowing them to "be in the same room together" . After a couple of weeks of just doing this, we could still never get Max to totally settle if the cat was in the room. Our trainer also suggested the bouncing the treats off of him. He had no interest in them as long as the cat was within his sight. He was fixated on her. He would settle for a couple minutes as long as one of us was stroking his chest and relaxing him, but would soon get all stimulated over again and attempt to "sneak" away from us...we had him leashed and he would hope to find us relaxed enough where he could give one good pull to get the leash away from us. He managed it once so I triple wrapped his leash on all following exercises.

After about 2 months we got to a point where we were able to have the cat and dog about 6 feet from each other. That is where the progress stopped. Cat loses it and starts hissing, Max goes wild and just about breaks are arms off to get to her. He hears NOTHING just focusing on getting the cat. The last session was such a disaster that we stopped attempting this because now I have to put a towel around Sasha to try to crate her because she refuses to be crated. What happened was I had her crated, DD did not realize what I was doing and let Max out of his crate. It happened so fast that Max got by me, got a hold of the crate, picked it up by the handle and tossed the freakin thing with Sasha in it. Obviously she went nuts and was crying and hissing which sent Max into a new level of insanity. He was growling and crazed and attempting to bite through the cage as Sasha was sticking her paws out to try to defend herself. By the time I was able to drag him off the cage, he had again dumped it which forced the lock to open and the door to fall off and Sasha came tumbling out.

Needless to say it was frightening for all of us. If I now attempt to crate Sasha she turns into the Exorcist and scratches and bites etc. I have had to throw a towel around her while wearing kitchen mitts to crate her to bring her to the vet and she still got me. Once inside the crate she was wild. She will no longer sit in in calmly as she used to.

I have never had a dog before that the mere sight of a cat sent him into such a frenzy where the outside world is totally shut out. Max is very treat orientated so with every other training we can usually get his attention away from something long enough for him to calm down and listen, but not with the cats. It is soooooooooooo frustrating, stressful, etc. Just the cat coming down the stairs if Max is crated sends him on this whirlwind that it takes several minutes for him to calm down even though the cat is no longer in his sight. I am just at wit's end.

Now ONE time my DH was able to bring Max on leash into the kitchen with Leo sitting loose on the baker's rack. Max pulled his usual thing, barking, growling, attempting to leap at the cat, but DH kept him on a short leash and after about 15 minutes he stopped barking (THAT was fun) and sat down...he continued to growl the remainder of the time there (about another 15 minutes). Finally Leo decided he was done, jumped off the bakers rack walked right up to Max and did his "boxing" thing in Max's face attempting to scratch him, which he did. I need not tell you what happened from there...let's just say dishes came off bakers rack, broken glass, shouting, hissing and two people trying to calm down a dog that was so agitated, that I had to grab the cat, run upstairs with him while DH crated the dog and covered the crate to allow him to calm down. He was in there barking for more then 10 minutes before we ended up having to go outside to get away from it because we were now stressed to the max as well.

Our house has turned into the looney bin and we are all stressed because of it.
 

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E-collars are not cruel when used correctly. They can also help correct alot of problems.
 

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GSDOwner, yes, Max knows the leave it command but as I mentioned, he stops hearing as soon as he sees a cat. It is as if we no longer exist once a cat enters the picture. I have had to literally take my Sasha out of his mouth and he did break skin and I mean I was ON Max before he even got to the cat. He yanked me so hard that he was able to get the cat into his mouth. I actually put my own hand in his mouth, depressed on his lower jaw to get him to release the cat. I have no doubt that had I not done that Sasha would be dead.

My breeder told me that of all the years she has been breeding she only had one other dog that had the prey drive that Max has and that is the one she has to use the collar on. She said he was so determined to kill chickens that she had to do it several times before he would stop going after them, and then only by increasing the amount of shock the dog recieved. She said he was relentless. Something tells me this is how Max will be as well
This whole things just makes me cry.
 

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Egads, you've got your work cut out for you!
I agree, the attitude of the cat(s) involved has a LOT to do with how much work it will take and how successful it will be. Since I got mine as kittens they were obviously apprehensive of this large rambunctious thing they'd never seen before, but they are pretty easy going in general, MCs are known for being dog-friendly as a breed, and they'd had no previous bad experiences with a dog to taint their expectations. So all that was a plus, but even so, it took a lot of work, time and patience to get there. I see pictures all the time on the forum where people have cats and dogs that get along great practically from minute one, and I've never been so lucky. In the 22 years I've had cats and GSDs I've NEVER not had to work at it.

I'd be concerned with Max's reaction too, it sounds pretty over the top. Why did she sell you Max if she knew how bad his prey drive was and that you had cats?
 

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Cindy, Max sounds exactly like Teagan in his reactions. I know it's hard, and frustrating :hugs:
 

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CassidysMom, before we went to look at Max I told the breeder that I had cats and had to have a pup that would be able to live side by side with them. She assured me that although her dogs were working line, she has had cats with her dogs before and even sent me pics of her dogs with them. When I went to look at Max she had a ton of pics in her den of many of her animals and several had cats laying right in their legs and sleeping. She did not have cats at that time though. What impressed me is she had a pic of one of her boys that she still had...an enormous boy (140 lbs) with a litter of kittens running all on top of him. The dog just was laying there letting the kittens go to town. That made me feel safe because most of her dogs are big.

There were 3 boys available and one LH female from another litter. I wanted a female as I have never owned a male dog before. The female was 2 months older and she told me that she had a hard time placing her because no one wanted a LH...Oh to be back in that situation again especially having seen your LH's! DD wanted the female, DH and I wanted the regular. I thought if I got the LH I would be spending my life sweeping hair up because you do enough of that with a regular coated shep. The sad part is the girl took right too me and was over kissing me and attempting to give me her paw! Gentle, not mouthy at all. I could kick myself now!!!

Anyway, I have to admit that the breeder DID suggest the female coated for me. She was 4 months and she had been working with her already so the dog already knew most of her commands and was just a kissy thing. Several times the breeder said I think she has picked you...do I listen???? NOOOOOOOOOO

My first shep was working lines and although she was a bit harder for me or should I say required much more attention and exercise then my last shep, I thought we were capable of handling Max. He was my 3rd shep and we have also owned other breeds and trained them as well...

I fell in love with Max before I ever went there. She had pics of the 3 boys and he just was the cutest thing so I went there with him in mind already. I knew he was mouthy, but all of them were. He was the middle dog, the biggest one was more then 5 lbs bigger then Max and had a real attitude. Def ALPHA which is not what we wanted. The littlest was a baby, whined, and whined and had to be with the breeder, being held. This was due to being so small at birth that she had to give him special attention. She did not think the pup was going to make it. So then there was Max. He took to me right away and of the three boys, he was on me and very curious about me and was also a kissy faced guy and that just did me in...

When I called and asked if she still had Quessa, of course she was gone...I was actually going to go back and get her as well as Max and that was after seeing your pics of your dogs! DH said well probably a good thing because having two pups at the same time might lead to craziness around here HA! Quessa was already pretty much trained and just needed a little finishing off.

So in breeders defense, she did try to direct me to another dog and pointed out to me that Quessa had just about NO prey drive and was good with other animals (we had a lab at the time as well). I did notice the mouthiness of Max but as I said, the others had it too. I saw Max's mom, dad and grandfather (the big ole guy with the kitties all over him) and felt pretty confident we were all set. Maxi's mom Foxi was a huge gentle girl....Xabu his dad, huge very alert dog. Now thinking back at the visits we had there, Xabu took longer to settle then all the dogs there
Xabu had been promised to the state trooper program but the breeder decided to keep him for her breeding program and gave them another dog. She has told me that he has sired many litters an this particular breeding of Foxy and Xabu has been a high demand breeding. They are planning a repeat breeding this year and already she has a waiting list for these particular pups by some people who already have pups from this breeding or missed out on the last because she only had 3 from last litter.

So now I am feeling incompetent
DH and I are far from dog trainers but up until now have always owned well behaved dogs that we have personally trained. I knew it was going to be different with Max from day one. I wrote it off initially thinking he was the first male I ever owned. It is more then him being male though...
 

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how is your dogs other training going? do you do NILIF?

LandosMom
 

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Also, I am not the type of person who takes an animal then decides oh he isn't working and gets rid of it. I have had animals all my life and no matter how nasty behaved (Sasha) I have never given any of my animals away. They have all left due to old age or unfortunate illness or accident. Being in this position tears me apart.

I keep thinking perhaps Max should be a working dog with a real job. Knowing him the way I do he would probably be very happy at that type of life. I wonder if I am doing him a disservice by trying to make a pet out of him when maybe that is not really who he is.

Then again, I am attached to him, so aren't other family members. He is very attached to us, he sits/sleeps on the couch next to me every night while I watch TV or read with his head on my lap. Talk about a velcro dog! He is at the point now where he is FINALLY checking in all the time except when he is trying to kill my cats. He loves sitting and watching me garden and loves fetching his ball or cuz...If we are sitting he will grab his cuz and put it right into our lap...I can not imagine not having him anymore. He has filled the huge gap we had after losing our other GSD and more recently, our lab. We are all very attached to him.
 

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LandosMOM, yes we do NILIF.

Gerry is Maxi's grandfather on his mother's side, he is Foxi's father. I did see pics of Gerry but did not see him. Foxi was from Gerry out of Lil...

So you know Kathy! I really like her and her dogs are awesome. I have never been to a breeder where so many dogs were actually HOUSE dogs. She had at least 8 dogs in the house not including puppies when we went to see Max the first time. We totally fell in love with Gildo. My DH still wants him
Kathy has been very helpful through all of this. I think she is a quality breeder and her dogs are awesome.

Do you have one of her pups? Our trainer has Maxi's half brother from Gildo out of Foxi. GORGEOUS boy who is a therapy dog and ENORMOUS!
 

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GSDOwner, thanks for the link. I have read it before soon after I brought Max home and understood he thought the cats were propelled really fun squeak toys and realized we had a problem.

Rereading it I did forget one thing and that was the scent of the cat on a towel. We did it once and then forgot about it. I think I will begin doing this again so at least the dog learns to be in his crate with the scent of the cat without going bonkers...
 
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