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Hello, I'm looking for some advice on my spayed 3 1/2 years old pure bred German Shepherd. I had got her when she was 7 weeks old. 3 days ago, she killed one of my pet bunnies who was 6 years old. I take full responsibility for this and I know this was my fault and not the dog.

Let me tell you my situation. I have a separate outside add-on hallway that the dog isn't allowed in and it's strictly for the bunnies (and cat) to get their exercise. Some days when it's hot and they can't go out there, I'll let them exercise in my bedroom supervised with me in there, and the door locked. There hasn't ever been a time when I let the bunnies loose in my bedroom without me in there with them.

So 3 days ago (Friday) I was in a rush to go out and meet with some friends. I took my rabbits out of their cages in my bedroom to let them out for exercise because I haven't gotten around to letting them out for the whole day so I felt bad. I cannot lock my bedroom door unless I am actually in the room with them. So the door wasn't locked, but was fully shut when I left. Basically I planned on only being out for 10 minutes (this is why I allowed the bunnies out and didn't think much of it)...well 10 minutes turned into an hour and a half.

I got home, couldn't find my dog anywhere because she always barks when someone is at the door. So I check all the rooms, then finally checked my bedroom last, and she comes busting out of there. That's when I saw my poor bunny laying in the middle of the floor with her neck snapped and leg broke. There weren't any bite marks or even a single drop of blood so I'm thinking the dog literally trampled her with her paws by putting all of her weight on her. The other bunny was alive and hiding behind my large entertainment center.

The dog's crate is also in my bedroom where the bunnies are kept in their cages, the cages are high enough to where she cannot get them. However I cannot trust this dog around these animals now. The dog is crate trained however, if one of the animals walk past her crate and if she's inside it, she will bark and lunge at my yorkies and cat like she is guarding her territory. I feel that she gets more frustrated in the crate so this is why I gave her a little bit of freedom roaming the house. Plus whenever I leave the house, I leave her out because I want her to protect the house if any intruders were to come in.

She is fine with the other dogs in the house, she got into 2 serious scuffles before but she was corrected and never happened again. We never ever let the yorkies alone with her when no one is home, we put our yorkies in the master bedroom and just leave her out. All of the yorkies are dominant with her and will put her in her place when needed.
The cat has a large tree house so she stays up there all day until the dog goes back in her crate.

We have a screened in lanai with an inground pool that she enjoys very much. One of my yorkies likes to bark and run around the pool like a nut, so the German Shepherd will go into stalk mode, lock her eyes on him and then chase him and mouth him while growling. My other yorkie who is calm, doesn't run around the pool so the Shepherd is fine with her and won't go after her.

These are all of the problems we have with her. She isn't aggressive towards me or anyone at all, and she knows commands such as sit, down, stay, paw, roll over, ect. But whenever she gets fixated on something (other pets) she ignores my commands and I have a hard time snapping her out of that state of mind. I cannot pick up and hold my cat in front of her because she will jump on me and try to take the cat with her mouth. The cat will hiss, growl, and spit at her which makes her even more excited and prone to chase her.
When I hold the bunnies and get them to calm down, I'll show them to the dog but not put them on the floor, she will lick them and won't try to bark at them as long as i'm keeping them still and calm. But when I carry them to a room, she gets very excited and tries to mouth them. Also when she is in her crate in my bedroom, and when I take the bunnies out of the cages, that's when she lunges and barks.

I'm really having a hard time understanding all of this behavior, and after this tragedy happened, it really has opened my eyes that I need some serious training to do with her, and I have let her get away with to much. I love her and honestly don't think I could get rid of her like everyone is telling me to do.
I've grown up with German Shepherds, but they all never had high prey drive so bad like my dog does.

I need all the tips and advice I can get. Also has anyone else had their GSD kill one of their pets?
 

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My sheltie mix killed a bottle baby goat we had. Our hearts were broke, and this baby goat was gorgeous, a lovely baby.
It's just how dogs are :(
 

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At least there were no bite marks or blood. It was likely really just an accident. Rabbits are very very delicate and their little bones can be broken easily. My dog would try the same things as your dog if she were left alone with the rabbit. I can't really blame her since I play with toys that encourage prey drive.

More knowledgeable members can chime in on training solutions, but I recommend better containment.

Your dogs and your rabbits don't need to be friends. The poor rabbit has nothing to gain from this arrangement. Please contain and secure them better. In case something like this happens again, maybe put more shelters for them in your room that they can run to.

I'm sorry this happenend as well. Feel better. :(
 

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I have two rabbits and a GSD. The rabbits live indoors in bunny condos. My dog can see them, but ignores them. My rabbits only have play time when the dog is locked on another level and we are there. Matter of fact, the rabbits are not a bonded pair and cannot be together. They would kill each other. I would never, never, never trust my dog not to kill a small animal. That is asking too much. Now that you know your dog can and will, beef up your containment. It is the best solution.
 

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There's certainly no reason to get rid of your dog, the folks who are telling you that probably don't have much experience with breeds that have any kind of natural drive.

Just be more careful next time, if you're anything like me you'll never make the mistake again. It sucks that it happened, and the best you can hope for was that your dog got in there and did the duty with one quick snap so the bunny didn't suffer. If you aren't renting you could always grab some really basic hook-and-latch hardware from Home Depot to secure the door you can't lock from the outside if you have to do the same thing with the bunnies in the future.

Good news; your dog has drive! Try lure coursing or a flirt pole, your dog will probably love it. Channel those behaviors into something fun for everybody, and something that doesn't end with blood. If you know anyone locally who is into herding maybe they can help you each basic herding skills. I have a ton of fun, and I'm a complete novice. But that drive can be locked onto sheep and they learn a lot of self-control.

My dogs haven't killed anything, I raised them around ferrets and rats. I would never leave them unsupervised, of course. But I know for sure that one of my GSDs would snap a cat in half if I'd let her. My neighbor's cat, though... she's just a cold blooded killer. Can't trust them cats! ;)
 

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I have two rabbits and a GSD. The rabbits live indoors in bunny condos. My dog can see them, but ignores them. My rabbits only have play time when the dog is locked on another level and we are there. Matter of fact, the rabbits are not a bonded pair and cannot be together. They would kill each other. I would never, never, never trust my dog not to kill a small animal. That is asking too much. Now that you know your dog can and will, beef up your containment. It is the best solution.
As a rescue we sometimes have people who have bunnies or ferrets or birds.
I tell them the same thing.
I agree, containment, super strong and don't let the dog be loose in the house, ever, unless the rabbits are way away, behind a locked door, etc.
But even then I don't know as I'd leave the dog loose in the house with them.
We have Dachshunds here. They are hounds bred for killing badgers. They are hunters extraordinaire. We do not have any small fuzzies for that reason, although I'd dearly love to purchase a pet baby skunk :wub:

BTW herding instinct is just prey drive that's been modified to where the dog doesn't "finish" the chase with a kill.
Many individuals within the herding breeds out there have not been trained to not kill, or the drive wasn't completed and they do kill, instead of just herd.
My Libby is one of them :(
 

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I'm sorry that you lost one of your beloved pets :(
I agree, there's no reason for you to get rid of your dog & anyone saying so doesn't understand the prey drive in dogs.

I keep ferrets as well, & have had cats in the past. Luckily, my dogs got along just fine with my cats. Now if any other cat crosses my dogs paths, my female will chase them-I don't *think* she would hurt them, based on her living with my cats, but I know that there's potential for that, so I keep her inline.

My ferrets are never out with my dogs, even though my dogs have never shown any aggression toward them, I know that there's a logical chance that either one of my dogs could kill any one of my ferrets, even if accidently.

On the note of ferrets, I have seen many people that have lost birds, due to their ferrets killing them.

Unfortunately, it's something we need to keep in mind, when keeping varied species of animals.
 

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sorry to hear about your bunny :( i have to be on top of things when my budgies are flying around, lexie would love to nail one. I would never trust her with the birds, never! but sometimes accidents do happen :(
 

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GSDs are clever dogs. I don't know how many that I've run into that can open round door knobs.
All dogs are predators and have some amount of prey drive. At my house Zoey the weasel terrier has a higher drive than Alice the GSD. Partially due the fact that I didn't really raise Zoey (my mother did) and I did raise Alice. Zoey still hunts and kills rats and really reacts to the cat if I accidently step on it (yeah, I'm clumsy).
Knowing that Zoey would be living with us (she's small white and squeaky) and I have two cats. One dog savvy and one not; one of them makes a weird sound and runs. That's pretty much a trigger for any prey driven animal. So, with Alice the GSD I deliberately avoided flirt poles and squeaky toys. The squeaky toys encourge the prey driven behavior.
Watch a dog with a squeaky toy. They grab it, it squeaks, then they shake it. The shake is a kill move. Or, they lay down and tear the squeaker out and then walk away. They walk away because "it's dead" no more encouragement.

I would consider your situation an accident. The dog probably just shook the rabbit. It is a positive thing that your GSD did not continue to stalk the remaining rabbit or eat the one that got killed. When a dog is (I'm stuggling for the right word here so please excuse me) allowed (?) or put in a situation to eat a small animal (chicken, rabbit, etc) that it has killed; it has actually not only encouraged the prey drive but rewarded it. Steady meals at regular times help lower the predatory drive as well.

I am sorry for the loss of your pet.
I definitely know that both of my girls would "pack up" if put into the same situation.
 

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Sorry to hear about your bunny. I do not encourage my dogs to chase critters in my yard, but they do. Years ago a bunny was in the yard, I didn't know and let the dogs out. They were on the bunny in no time. The poor thing tried to get thru the chain link and got stuck. All I could do was hold back my female, Chazzy and Cheyenne my male didn't pursue. The bunny was bleeding but managed to squeeze thru the fence.
Your dog is normal, every one of my females have an incredibly strong prey drive.
The only thing you can do is be sure to never let it happen again.
 

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Thanks for the support I appreciate it. What is the difference if a dog would of actually tore and ripped into the bunny? (eat it, ect.) My dog didn't do that, thankfully the poor bunny was in one piece.

Also what should I do about the whole crate thing where she lunges and barks at the animals walking by? Such as my other dogs and cat.
Should I move her into a different room or what?

I think I've given her to much freedom around the house.
 

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CarrieJ: the description of a dog and its squeaky toy gave me chills. I don't like those toys to begin with because they're so annoying, but are we encouraging anything bad by letting Joey play with them since he already has a high prey drive?
 

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Oh and I'll also mention that, she likes my 2 pet rats and will actually put them in her mouth and carry them around the house. One rat likes it, the other doesn't. I thought it was cute and she didn't seem she was hurting them because she was gentle. But after this happened, that'll be coming to an end as well.

I don't understand how she didn't kill the rats but managed to kill my bunny.
 

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The rabbit may have broken it's own neck or back.
When we first moved here, a coyote got to one of our outdoor rabbits.
The remaining rabbit broke it's own back by thumping so hard :(

And rabbits are incredibly fragile. Plus you were not there to stop things. You seem to be there when the rats are handled by the dog.
Either way, it's a very risky move, and could result in one of the rats being killed.
 

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The rabbit may have broken it's own neck or back.
When we first moved here, a coyote got to one of our outdoor rabbits.
The remaining rabbit broke it's own back by thumping so hard :(

And rabbits are incredibly fragile. Plus you were not there to stop things. You seem to be there when the rats are handled by the dog.
Either way, it's a very risky move, and could result in one of the rats being killed.
Sorry to hear about that :( I know they are very delicate, I had her for 6 years and bottle fed her when she was a baby. she was such a good little bun and trusted all of the animals here. I still can't forgive myself for this.
I just didn't think she would go in my room if it was shut. Then again I now know she knows how to open door handles.

What's the difference if a dog just literally tore up the pet (blood everywhere, ect) and if they only just trampled them...shook them or whatever. If there was blood, would it have been an aggressive attack?

I'm still trying to find out the differences and what I can do about stricter training with her
 

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Well there's not really a difference other than maybe degrees.
Your GSD may have thought she was "playing" with the rabbit. Perhaps she wasn't being "mean" but just being too rough.
Either way you can't trust her around small fuzzies.
As far as stricter training, that's not going to help as much as making your home a Ft. Knox for her, so she can't have a chance to get at the small animals any longer.
 

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Sorry to hear.

We have a bearded dragon that had free reign of the house before we got our dog. Now we only let the beardie out when we're home but even then it is worrisome. The dog doesn't attack it but she does paw at it in a playful manner which could be deadly.
 
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