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I am preparing to bring home my very first GSD. I am adopting a retiring breeding female who is five years old. She has been raised around cats, and the breeder hand picked her out for me because they knew I was looking for a GSD that was good with cats. I have three cats: an 18-year-old, 5-year-old and 3-year-old. I'm actually not nervous at all about the dog being aggressive (but, for the record, I'm not being naive and will follow all of the advice I've seen about introducing GSDs and cats), but I am nervous about one of my cats not being great with the dog - at least in the beginning.

I have always had dogs as long as I've had the cats, but I put my last dog down about nine months ago. So, the cats been without a dog for about nine months, and I always had much smaller dogs than the GSD. My 18-year-old has been around many dogs all her life, and she loves dogs. My three-year-old loves all living things, although she is shy at first.

My 5-year-old has far more energy than a normal cat. The other two cats tire of her wanting to play with them. My last dog was terrified of her and largely steered clear of her. I should clarify that she was a nervous dog that was largely terrified of everything, and it was the cats high level of energy that made her nervous, not the cat trying to hurt her. That particular cat is declawed on the front, so she can't cause any real damage that way. She's just very much an alpha and likes to show everyone she is the boss. she did live with several big dogs in a foster home when I first got her, but that was five years ago. Since then she has only been around the small Italian Greyhound I previously had.

I saw a lot of posts on the forum about introducing GSD puppies to cats, but I'm wondering if anyone has brought home an adult GSD and introduced to them to adult cats. I've read a ton on the internet about the appropriate ways to introduce them, but I want all of the advice I can get!
 

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Does the dog respect gates? Use them to confine her, provide escape routes for your cats and use the "honeymoon" period to lay ground rules for your new girl. Some dogs will display "good" behavoir for several weeks while they're adjusting to their new home and it can be easy to let your guard down so to speak. You know your cats well and are being proactive so you should be fine as long as there are consistent rules enforced from the start.
 

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Does the dog respect gates? Use them to confine her, provide escape routes for your cats and use the "honeymoon" period to lay ground rules for your new girl. Some dogs will display "good" behavoir for several weeks while they're adjusting to their new home and it can be easy to let your guard down so to speak. You know your cats well and are being proactive so you should be fine as long as there are consistent rules enforced from the start.
I'm not bringing her home until Tuesday, so I do not know for sure. However, what I have been told is that she will respect gates. I'm also getting two different crates for her for two different areas of our house. I plan to introduce them by scent first, then maybe allow the cats to start checking her out in her crate, then slowly start introductions with the dog always on a leash.
 

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Shadow met her first house cat yesterday. Fortunately it was a dog savy cat. Also fortunately said cat exercised control and Shadow will have a few small marks on her nose and nothing more serious. All in all a cheap education given that she was being loud and persistant. The first smack lacked claws. The remaining 5 did not. The cat was in no danger and could have escaped anytime. It chose to offer a lesson and I opted to let it. Better then tangling with one that may not be so forgiving.
As long as the cats have an escape most times it is best to let them define boundaries on their own. Under supervision. With few exceptions cats are pretty worthy opponents.
 

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A dog that’s lived with cats and cats that have lived with dogs... you can’t ask for better odds than that. I certainly wouldn’t let my guard down but I also wouldn’t be so cautious that it draws any extra attention to the situation. Sometimes that can increase interest and cause problems.

My strategy when I integrated my multi pet household...

- bought a tall cat tree with a shelter at the top
- brought cat home in a carrier, let everyone sniff each other through the carrier (my cat did hiss, I ignored the hiss and carried on as usual)
- put the dogs in my room, put cat in cat tree, let dogs out
- at night I put the dogs in my room so the cat could come down to eat, drink, potty and explore.
- by the 3rd morning we emerged from the room and the cat was on the middle tier of the tree (contact/sniffing level)
- by that evening she was brave enough to come to the floor. If one of the dogs walked towards her or showed interest, she’d return to her tree.

Mainly, I observed all actions and responses and stayed available to intervene if needed, but in the end, I provided a safe set up and let them work it out on their own without a bunch of initial (prolonged) barriers and restrictions. That was 12yrs ago - other dogs have been introduced similarly since that time. I routinely keep my house divided by a baby gate, for various reasons... but it also allows my cat to always have a safe place away from the dogs when I can’t be there directly.
 

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When we had both, we had cheap baby gates that we cut little kitty doors into because one of our cats was old and couldn't jump. Now they make gates with pre installed kitty doors at the bottom. Maybe they will all get along famously
I agree, be smart but not paranoid if the dog has a history with cats
 

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When we had both, we had cheap baby gates that we cut little kitty doors into because one of our cats was old and couldn't jump. Now they make gates with pre installed kitty doors at the bottom. Maybe they will all get along famously
I agree, be smart but not paranoid if the dog has a history with cats
I was just looking at one of those gates with the kitty door on Amazon yesterday. I think I might get a couple.
 

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My cats decided, after several times of jumping the gate and landing in the middle of a pile of dogs, that it was best to stay on their side of the gate!

I also did the cat tree thing, and it’s a good retreat for when the dogs come into the cat area of the house. I remember when I first got Mimi as a kitten. I put her in a big wire crate in the living room with Carly and Sage. Carly immediately went over and opened the crate door. No! Don’t turn the kitty loose, lol!

A lot of this will just depend on how your house is set up.
 

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A lot will depend on the dog. Without knowing how it is going to react, it is hard to set up a strategy.

Don't waste your money on the gates with a cat door. I have had 75# dogs jam their way through the cat doors on them. It is hard to believe but they do fit through those little gates. Not all dogs will respect a gate.

Your declawed cat is definitely handicapped and at a disadvantage when it comes to running and jumping. Cats NEED their claws to climb or make fast getaways. I doubt that he is dominant, more likely aggressive. It is a common side effect of being declawed.

Whatever you do, keep in mind that a German Shepherd can easily kill a cat, dog savvy or not. Your priority and strategy needs to be based on your commitment in keeping your cats alive.

Depending on the dog, you may never be able to leave them home together or even trust the dog out at night when you sleep. Your best options are to crate the dog or separate when you are not there. The rest will rely on how you see the dog react to your cats. You have been given some good advice as to how to handle any problems that may come up dependent on the dog.

Do keep in mind that although a dog may be soft or gentle, cats have been killed by those very same dogs simply by the dog playing too rough. So even if all goes well, you may still want to separate at night or when you are not home.
 

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A lot will depend on the dog. Without knowing how it is going to react, it is hard to set up a strategy.

Don't waste your money on the gates with a cat door. I have had 75# dogs jam their way through the cat doors on them. It is hard to believe but they do fit through those little gates. Not all dogs will respect a gate.

Your declawed cat is definitely handicapped and at a disadvantage when it comes to running and jumping. Cats NEED their claws to climb or make fast getaways. I doubt that he is dominant, more likely aggressive. It is a common side effect of being declawed.

Whatever you do, keep in mind that a German Shepherd can easily kill a cat, dog savvy or not. Your priority and strategy needs to be based on your commitment in keeping your cats alive.

Depending on the dog, you may never be able to leave them home together or even trust the dog out at night when you sleep. Your best options are to crate the dog or separate when you are not there. The rest will rely on how you see the dog react to your cats. You have been given some good advice as to how to handle any problems that may come up dependent on the dog.

Do keep in mind that although a dog may be soft or gentle, cats have been killed by those very same dogs simply by the dog playing too rough. So even if all goes well, you may still want to separate at night or when you are not home.
100% my plan has always been to have the GSD crated when I'm not home and at night. Luckily, I work from home, so I'm home more than I'm not. And for a long time after slow introductions I plan to keep the GSD near me and on leash.

The cat was pretty dominate with my last dog. The dog would turn her head and refuse to look the cat in the eye any time it walked in the room. Snuggled with the other two cats but wouldn't look that one in the eye or get anywhere near it.
 

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Our breed rescue has several foster homes with cats. They're very experienced with successful introductions, and the cats are good about training the dogs. The take on adult dogs regularly, and most of the time it works out fine -- we're doing our best to pick dogs for them that display traits that give us good odds. Once in a blue moon, we end up with a dog that needs to be moved to a cat-free home, but it's rare.

When we're looking for dogs for these homes, we walk the dogs by cats behind glass in the shelter to see if there's any reaction. Then we go out walking in an area where I know there is a TNR-feral cat colony -- these cats are often around outside many local shelters here. I'm looking for the dog's reaction. If it wants to chase or eat the cat, that's a deal killer. If it watches them curiously with a head tilt or even backs up away respectfully from the hissing cat, then it's probably going to work (or at least has the potential to work, with a good intro and some "leave the cat alone" training).

This method isn't 100%, but we've had pretty good success. The ones that are respectful often end up either avoiding the cat in the home or trying to befriend it (often lying on the ground and whining for the cat to approach because they're not allowed to approach the cat) -- they sometimes turn out to be the dogs that eventually tolerate the cats "making biscuits" on the fur on their backs and cats sleeping on top of them.

OTOH, if a dog sees a cat as prey and the hunt drive gets engaged inside the house, it's "game on." There will be no peace. The quality of the intro won't matter.
 

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Our breed rescue has several foster homes with cats. They're very experienced with successful introductions, and the cats are good about training the dogs. The take on adult dogs regularly, and most of the time it works out fine -- we're doing our best to pick dogs for them that display traits that give us good odds. Once in a blue moon, we end up with a dog that needs to be moved to a cat-free home, but it's rare.

When we're looking for dogs for these homes, we walk the dogs by cats behind glass in the shelter to see if there's any reaction. Then we go out walking in an area where I know there is a TNR-feral cat colony -- these cats are often around outside many local shelters here. I'm looking for the dog's reaction. If it wants to chase or eat the cat, that's a deal killer. If it watches them curiously with a head tilt or even backs up away respectfully from the hissing cat, then it's probably going to work (or at least has the potential to work, with a good intro and some "leave the cat alone" training).

This method isn't 100%, but we've had pretty good success. The ones that are respectful often end up either avoiding the cat in the home or trying to befriend it (often lying on the ground and whining for the cat to approach because they're not allowed to approach the cat) -- they sometimes turn out to be the dogs that eventually tolerate the cats "making biscuits" on the fur on their backs and cats sleeping on top of them.

OTOH, if a dog sees a cat as prey and the hunt drive gets engaged inside the house, it's "game on." There will be no peace. The quality of the intro won't matter.
That sounds like a great way to do it! I have been assured by our breeder that this particular dog is the right one for us because she is so good with cats. I'm actually more worried about one of my cats than the dog. One of my cats can be a little aggressive. she has been around dogs her whole life, but she has always managed to come out as the alpha.
 

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Our breed rescue has several foster homes with cats. They're very experienced with successful introductions, and the cats are good about training the dogs. The take on adult dogs regularly, and most of the time it works out fine -- we're doing our best to pick dogs for them that display traits that give us good odds. Once in a blue moon, we end up with a dog that needs to be moved to a cat-free home, but it's rare.

When we're looking for dogs for these homes, we walk the dogs by cats behind glass in the shelter to see if there's any reaction. Then we go out walking in an area where I know there is a TNR-feral cat colony -- these cats are often around outside many local shelters here. I'm looking for the dog's reaction. If it wants to chase or eat the cat, that's a deal killer. If it watches them curiously with a head tilt or even backs up away respectfully from the hissing cat, then it's probably going to work (or at least has the potential to work, with a good intro and some "leave the cat alone" training).

This method isn't 100%, but we've had pretty good success. The ones that are respectful often end up either avoiding the cat in the home or trying to befriend it (often lying on the ground and whining for the cat to approach because they're not allowed to approach the cat) -- they sometimes turn out to be the dogs that eventually tolerate the cats "making biscuits" on the fur on their backs and cats sleeping on top of them.

OTOH, if a dog sees a cat as prey and the hunt drive gets engaged inside the house, it's "game on." There will be no peace. The quality of the intro won't matter.
I would question that method a bit. It may be a good starting point.
I have owned several dogs over the years that were fine with other animals in the house but would chase strays outside. And as much as I would not leave her unsupervised with a small animal even Shadow with her over the top prey drive proved just the other day that she can be taught to leave animals in the house alone. My Lex girl was a mouser and general vermin hunter, but lived contentedly with cats and birds and even a rabbit. And Sabi who was mother to all in need would chase both cats and rabbits off the property and yet raised both. With a baby jackrabbit with us she chased wild ones. I believe dogs can be taught house rules. To what degree one trusts that training is a know thy dog thing, but I would not discount a dog for chasing loose cats outside.
 
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