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Discussion Starter #1
For the winter we bring our pet rabbit inside our house with us. We put him(the rabbit) in the girls' room.
So I am relaxing, watching It's me or the dog... and all the sudden the girls yell for me. I go in thier room to find Preston(my 6mon th old german shepherd) with the rabbit laying in between his front paws..Dead.

I am soo distressed! I dont know exactly how to go at this..? He chases our ducks and I am afraid he will kill them too. What should I do?
 

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I am so sorry your girls had to witness this, but I have to ask why the dog had access to the rabbit in the first place without supervision????

If he chases your ducks, well they are herding dogs. He's only six months old, he obviously doesn't understand he isn't supposed to KILL them..

What you should do? keep the dog away from your ducks. Again, I am so sorry about the rabbit:((
 

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Oh no! He couldn't be expected to know he wasn't supposed to kill it, same with the ducks, unless he's taught that they're off limits.
 

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Welcome to the forum! First, I'll say I am sorry to hear about your rabbit. I wanted to say that your situation reminded me of my first couple posts on this forum. I couldn't figure out how to control my 4 month old pup from tearing stuff up while I was at work.

The forum quickly slapped my wrists for even thinking a 4 month old was even close to old enough to have full reign on the house while I wasn't there. A 6 month old is very much still a pup. You'd be wise to ensure he's always in the same room with you until a bit older. Unsupervised pups generally make poor choices- such as killing pet rabbits. It really is an unfortunately learning experience.
 

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Oh my word that is one of my fears, as my little girl a 1 yr old super friendly pet rabbit.

Angel is kept in her cage with key locks, so that she can't be let out with my unlocking the cage. Even with her being in the cage Brewski is never left in a room alone with her, that to me would be just teasing him and asking for possible trouble. When Angel is let out Brewski is in his crate locked so that we can hopefully avoid the experience you are now having to deal with....

I am so sorry for the loss of the pet rabbit and it is terrible that your girls had to be part of something so tragic. Why was your pup in where the rabbit was loose? (not trying to be critical) may also ask what if anything did you say or do to your puppy upon realizing what had taken place?
 

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In the puppies mind he was trying to play- not kill:( I'm sorry it happened but if they have access to a small animal you have to supervise all encounters or this happens:(
 

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I am so sorry for you, your girls and your rabbit. But everyone is right, your puppy should not have had access to your rabbit. I had a pet rabbit that I had to have put down at Thanksgiving and Dharma never, ever had unsupervised access to him. When I cleaned his cage and he would hop out of his cage into the living room, I made sure Dharma was outside. I don't think Dharma would have intentionally hurt him but accidently- oh yes, she could have easily killed him trying to play.

I also have a small, 3 legged cat. I give her her own space in the spare room because my foster dog Tessa has shown too much interest in her. Tessa was supposed to be good with cats. I don't know if she just wants to play or if she is trying to hurt her but I never leave them alone just in case.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Why was your pup in where the rabbit was loose? (not trying to be critical) may also ask what if anything did you say or do to your puppy upon realizing what had taken place?

The rabbit was not loose, and the door is always closed.. well its supposed to be.
I really did not know what to do.. I said NO! and put him outside. I didn't yell at him really at all. I just put him outside for a minute to potty then into the crate.
 

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My rabbits are never loose when the dog is around. The dog can be in the area, when the rabbits are in their cages (bunny condos). Otherwise, the dog and rabbits are on separate floors of the house, with a shut door in between. My dog has never tried to hurt the rabbits, but I think them hopping around her would be too much temptation.

Things happen very quickly. A friend told me that during her childhood years, her Mom was cleaning the rabbit. The GSD pushed through the door and before the Mom could act, had decapitated the rabbit.

These are terrible accidents and we try hard to prevent them. In any case, one cannot blame the dog for being a dog. I am very sorry this happened to your family.
 

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In the puppies mind he was trying to play- not kill:( I'm sorry it happened but if they have access to a small animal you have to supervise all encounters or this happens:(
You don't think a 6 month old dog has predatorial instincts? I bet this dog sure as heck meant to kill that rabbit and wants badly to kill the ducks. It's not malice obviously but it is intent nonetheless.


I would say that it may be time to teach the dog that chasing the ducks is an inappropriate behavior. It's up to you (and perhaps a trainer) how you do this.
 

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It does happen :( . I think rabbits are adorable and I always had a soft spot for them. I even took in a lost baby rabbit when I was a kid and tried to keep it as a pet.

I had a husky/GSD mix who always loved to chase and kill animals...it's just how he was and what he liked to do. He would body bounce on the snow to get to mice, and he would watch in the trees for squirrels. I was walking him one morning out on my grandparent's field and I saw him going nuts in the grass...it turns out he had found a nest and killed a baby rabbit..I was SO upset.

My dogs show interest in small animals now, but not desire to kill them and nowhere near the drive my Husky mix had. I think it really depends on the dog and what drives him. As we know GSDs can have a high prey drive. I would keep a close eye on him with the ducks, because at least with my dog, he thought it was so much fun to kill small animals!

I am so sorry about your bunny though... :( Sometimes our pets pull a fast one on us, that's for sure. Keep a close eye on him with your small animals, because I would be willing to bet he would do it again...not saying he's a bad dog, but dog's somehow can see great fun in this type of sport.
 

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The rabbit was not loose, and the door is always closed.. well its supposed to be.
I really did not know what to do.. I said NO! and put him outside. I didn't yell at him really at all. I just put him outside for a minute to potty then into the crate.
How old are your children? If they're younger than 16 they shouldn't ever be left unsupervised with a dog. ESPECIALLY a puppy. At that age, the puppy should be crated or supervised 100% of the time because stuff like this can happen, especially with children. They don't know the puppy would ever hurt their bunny, they probably wanted to let them play together.

Teaching a leave it command can help redirect him from focusing on the ducks or a future rabbit, and a solid recall can help if he ever tries to go after a duck. He's a puppy, so he'll need training, but this isn't unusual. He's a herder, and a dog breed that generally has high prey drive. If you supervise him correctly, this should not happen again.
 

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I have two rabbits of my own and also have worked at a rabbit shelter. I never let my dog anywhere near the rabbits pen. Rabbits are very delicate animals. Even if the dog were to accidentally get a hold of the rabbit but not kill it the rabbit could still die the next day. Rabbits bodies are very sensitive they can have heart attacks. If they are stressed enough the body can't handle it.
 

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I'm really sorry about what happened - I'm not going to criticize, because I'm sure you already know your mistake and feel horrible about it enough as it is. What's done is done, all you can do now is move forward and rectify the situation so something like this never happens again. It was an accident, they happen to all of us.

I can't and won't speculate as to why the dog killed the rabbit - maybe he was playing, maybe he wanted it dead, maybe it was frightened to death. Either way, I think it teaches us all a valuable lesson and serves as a reminder to always have our guard up, never leave your dog alone with pets like rabbits and/or young kids, and pound "leave it" and bite inhibition into them from day one.

I have a ferret, a very small, thin one ferret people call "whippet type." Before I got Rem, she was allowed free, albeit supervised, run of the upstairs floor. So when Rem came home, I worked with him extensively on "leave it" with EVERYTHING - food, toys, me (didn't work so well when it was me, just ask my arms) and by now he's mastered it. So I introduce him to the ferret, on a leash. She is inquisitive and unafraid by nature, after all she shares this house with many pets of various species. So it was all about getting him to learn to respect her - respect her size, her status (she outranks him) and learn that his mouth may absolutely not touch her. On leash, as she ran about him, I practiced leave it again. This went on for several days. Now he is to the point where they can be loose together in a room with me constantly watching, always close by, and he leaves her entirely alone. I reward him for this, and he's smart, he gets the message.

I think you should do a little research, maybe ask around the forum here, and find a really good trainer in your area experienced with this kind of thing to come out and help you guys. I don't think this is something you should handle alone. The dog has killed something - regardless of motive, or lackthereof, someone is dead, and action is required. Enlist the services of a professional to best guide you on what to do now.

And don't punish him - it isn't his fault that he's a curious young dog who hasn't been taught how to respect his surroundings. He's not a bad or malicious animal by any means, he's just a baby who doesn't know his own strength. Keep him well away from the ducks, if he went anywhere near them, I'd have him leashed and doing a focus exercise with you, treat and praise him when he looks at you and ignores the ducks.

Good luck to you, please keep us updated on how things go.
 

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Larien -

Great reply!! I love that you focus on what can be done NOW, not what should have been done THEN.

Can you please elaborate on how you taught the "leave it" command? At what age did you start training this?

Do you do any kind of Schutzhund or anything like that with Rem? If so, how do you balance that training (and the high prey drive it requires) with this sort of training?

I am getting a pup in April, and we already have a beloved cat who has always had the house to himself. I want to start out right, and make sure he respects the cat, but I don't want to repress his prey drive too much, as I would like to do Schutzhund with him. Obviously he would never be unsupervised with the cat, at least until he was much older and had shown he could be trusted. But I want to make sure I go down the right path to possibly reach that point someday....
 

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I guess I am really lucky that my dog fears the rabbit. It is a bit shameful that my rabbit grunts and lunges and my pathetic full grown GSD runs and hides. Even so - good to have that respect. Dog goes into serious avoidance mode. The "new" rabbit is not dog aggressive, but the GSD has not figured that out.
 

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I guess I am really lucky that my dog fears the rabbit. It is a bit shameful that my rabbit grunts and lunges and my pathetic full grown GSD runs and hides. Even so - good to have that respect. Dog goes into serious avoidance mode. The "new" rabbit is not dog aggressive, but the GSD has not figured that out.

That is really funny! Mean ole' rabbit. I wonder if you should have taught the bunny ' leave it'.

My GSD has a very strong cat drive. He'll chase our barn cats if I don't catch him before he reacts to them. I can tell him leave it, before the chase begins. But we are still working on the 'off' button once the chase begins. I always make him wait at the door before I let him out to give the cats a chance to hide.

The other day one of our cats had a monster rat she had just killed. I didn't notice it and let the GSD out. He ran straight for the cat and she decided it was more important to protect her kill then to run. Hondo ran straight for her and skidded to a stop when she didn't run. She arched and hissed over her kill and Hondo sat with his head cocked watching her. I don't know if he was more confused that she didn't run, or that she had the ability to make such a large kill. Either way - last night Hondo was in the back yard and the cat came up along the fence and began rubbing along the fence. Hondo didn't attempt to chase her off. He pretended to totally ignore her, just giving her a glance every now and then. I'm curious if he now sees the cats in an entire new light!
 

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I'm really sorry about what happened - I'm not going to criticize, because I'm sure you already know your mistake and feel horrible about it enough as it is. What's done is done, all you can do now is move forward and rectify the situation so something like this never happens again. It was an accident, they happen to all of us.

I can't and won't speculate as to why the dog killed the rabbit - maybe he was playing, maybe he wanted it dead, maybe it was frightened to death. Either way, I think it teaches us all a valuable lesson and serves as a reminder to always have our guard up, never leave your dog alone with pets like rabbits and/or young kids, and pound "leave it" and bite inhibition into them from day one.

I have a ferret, a very small, thin one ferret people call "whippet type." Before I got Rem, she was allowed free, albeit supervised, run of the upstairs floor. So when Rem came home, I worked with him extensively on "leave it" with EVERYTHING - food, toys, me (didn't work so well when it was me, just ask my arms) and by now he's mastered it. So I introduce him to the ferret, on a leash. She is inquisitive and unafraid by nature, after all she shares this house with many pets of various species. So it was all about getting him to learn to respect her - respect her size, her status (she outranks him) and learn that his mouth may absolutely not touch her. On leash, as she ran about him, I practiced leave it again. This went on for several days. Now he is to the point where they can be loose together in a room with me constantly watching, always close by, and he leaves her entirely alone. I reward him for this, and he's smart, he gets the message.

I think you should do a little research, maybe ask around the forum here, and find a really good trainer in your area experienced with this kind of thing to come out and help you guys. I don't think this is something you should handle alone. The dog has killed something - regardless of motive, or lackthereof, someone is dead, and action is required. Enlist the services of a professional to best guide you on what to do now.

And don't punish him - it isn't his fault that he's a curious young dog who hasn't been taught how to respect his surroundings. He's not a bad or malicious animal by any means, he's just a baby who doesn't know his own strength. Keep him well away from the ducks, if he went anywhere near them, I'd have him leashed and doing a focus exercise with you, treat and praise him when he looks at you and ignores the ducks.

Good luck to you, please keep us updated on how things go.
Well said :cool:
 

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So sorry to hear about your rabbit. I had a ferret killed by a foster dog years ago when the ferret escaped from his room and wandered into the dog's expen.

By nature, dogs are predators and rabbits are prey. Small animals that run or have prey-like flight response to the presence of a predator often trigger "prey drive" (the desire to chase and catch small animals) in dogs. I would absolutely not trust him with your ducks. Chasing can easily led to catching, which quickly turns into killing.

I would suggest reading this book, which outlines guidelines for controlling dog's predatory instincts: Amazon.com: Chase!: Managing Your Dog's Predatory Instincts (Dogwise Training Manual) (9781929242689): Clarissa Von Reinhardt: Books
 

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Cyrak6 - I am planning on doing Schuthzund with him in the future, so that's partly why I want him to respect my pets so much, and Schutzhund will teach him even more discipline and I'll be able to command him, with the help of a trainer at first, to be really responsive and listen to what I ask of him.

I started teaching him leave it right away - probably the second or third day, and I started off by doing it 5 mins. a day, and then twice a day, and then for 10 mins, etc. I'd sit on the floor, and have a big bag of really great, smelly treats. With them in my hand balled into a fist, I'd hold a second treat hidden behind my clicker in the other hand, and then let him sniff my hand. They'll try and lick and get to the treats, and the second he doesn't, and either looks at me or something else, click and treat. I don't use a verbal cue at the beginning. Later, I'll start to say "leave it," and the second he looks either at me in the eye, or backs off and waits, leaving the treats alone, I click, treat and praise. As smart as GSDs are, it doesn't take them long to master that at all.

So then you take it further, standing up and using a leash. Then I'd put a plate of something enticing or a big pile of treats on the floor and walk around it. He'd try and get to them, I say "leave it," and when he left it, lol, click, treat and praise. This one is harder, and takes patience and a little more time to learn, but again they're smart and learn fast.

Once he had it down with food, I integrated other items into the training, you don't want to just use food. So I practiced with his favorite toys, his chews, my shoes lol, and my own foot! Also, before every meal, he knows he must sit and wait before I set it down. Same goes for chews and toys, if he goes for them too soon, "leave it" makes him wait until I say it's okay to take the item.

So now that he knows leave it so well, I can use it on anything, including my pets, and stuff he's inclined to try and chew on. But for a puppy with prey drive, leave it may not be enough if he's really interested in the animal, and that's why I make sure my dogs learn to respect my pets. This one is more about attitude and how you carry yourself around them than training, so you'll need to make sure that whenever you're working with the cat and dog to always be confident, assertive, standing up straight, and not nervous. If you're anxious at all, stop and come back to it later.

I'll do things like feed my ferret BEFORE I feed Rem, or make Rem wait in the hallway while I let Kilala out of her cage, or sit and wait while I cuddle her, etc. If she's on the bed, he must be on the floor. Personally it's not that I regard my ferret more than my puppy, I just want him to know that as his elder, so to speak, she sort of "outranks" him and she gets to do certain things first. He's also not allowed to touch her cage at all, I use leave it for that one. And when he's fine around her, I make sure I treat and praise him for doing the right thing, it's really important to let them know when they've done well, because all they want is to please us.

Cats are easier to teach dogs to respect - my cats have two rooms in which they alone are allowed to go - the basement and the living/dining room. The latter is gated, the cats can get over it, but the dogs MUST stay out. This way, the cats have a place to retreat to if they feel bothered, and the dog sees that the cat is superior in that it has it's own room which is off limits to him. The basement door is always cracked open for the cats, but my dogs know leave it so well that they don't even attempt to go down there.

As for my parrots - Rem jumped up to see my african grey, Mariah, one time and one time only. I let it happen, because I know Mariah and she is one tough cookie. She got him on the muzzle with that beak, and that's all it took - he now has the utmost respect for her, and leaves her well alone!

I think the biggest things are supervision (if the pup can't be watched when the cats are around, crate him) and keeping a level head - the most important thing I did when I brought Rem home was act normal, if you act like the process of introducing the cat to the pup is a big deal, the dog will pick up on it, and wonder why the cat is such a big deal, and be even more interested in it. But if the cat is just the cat, and you go about life as normal, while keeping a watchful eye and the puppy well trained, things should be fine. :)
 
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