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Giada is 8 1/2 weeks and came home 4 days ago, and as previous posts have mentioned she's doing great with crate and house training.

Next hurdle: We have three Maine Coon cats. So I'm just looking for tips on socializing her with them.

So far everyone is in look-but-don't-touch mode. She REALLY wants to touch though, and since the cats run from her, she barks and tries to chase but we stop her. This is Particularly worrying bc she's also in full-on land shark mode so i'm sure the cats won't enjoy a playdate just yet.

H anyone run this gauntlet before? How'd you do it? Looking for tips from the dog AND cat point of view, training techniques etc. We're likely going to bring in a pro to address this issue as it's critical in our household.

Thanks in advance, as always!
 

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I started a thread VERY similiar to this months ago when I brought my pup home at 8 weeks. Some of the tips I got are, always have your dog on a leash while inside anywhere near the cats. This way when the pup gets excited and starts to chase, you can quickly snag it. You've probably already realized this, but you need to keep an eye on her AT ALL TIMES while roaming the house. Something else people recommended but I never did was get these cat calming plug in scent things. I went to look for them and they were pretty pricy so I never got them.

The best advice I got and what I recommend is to not force anything. Do not try and pick up your cat and put it in front of the dogs face or vice versa. The cats are going to be in hide mode, at least mine were, until they finally accepted the fact the dog wasn't going. Let it run its course. One thing my puppy always did and still does to show the cats she's not threatening is she would slowly get close. Once she was about a foot away, she laid down giving the cat her paws (if that makes any sense). Basically lays down to try and lower herself to the cats.

My cats have free roam of the house and hopefully this doesn't happen to your puppy lol. Mine STILL gets frustrated that the cats are allowed on the counters lol. She hasn't done it in a long time, but she has jumped all the way up onto the kitchen table and sat down lol. As funny as it was, we had to quickly get her down so she didn't think its ok.

Basically let it run its course and don't force anything. ALWAYS be ready to intervene when you see them getting closer to eachother. This is basically how it went for us. Brought dog home, cats were PISSED! The cats went into hide mode for about four weeks then started coming out again. We let it run its course and I wanna say four months later one of the cats doesn't seem annoyed by the dog anymore and allows her to lick him. They can be by eachother without any problem. I still have one, the boss of house, that still hates the dog. He will even sneak up behind Mei and then get some quick swats in on her and Mei freaks lol. Mei still tries with this cat to become friends.

They will eventually. Just give it time!
 

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I'm currently going through it now. Steel REALLY wants to play with the cats. He gets super excited and barks at them. Occasionally, he'll "catch" my male cat and mouth him a bit, then stand there like "why isn't he playing back?" I haven't had a puppy this focused on the kitties before and Katsu supposedly has a higher prey drive than Steel. It's definitely more of a "these are weird looking playmates" focus rather than "I'm going to kill that furry thing" focus. I had a cat killer growing up. :frown2:

I was told to "make myself more interesting than the cats" but, imo, easier said than done, lol. I use "no kitty!" as a leave it for the cats and we're actively working on this command. It is a work in progress for us, probably 80% of the time right now. I'm doing my best to keep him from chasing the cats as well.


Depends on your puppy. Katsu got over it after a few weeks. The cats are indifferent to her. Steel, it's been 1.5 months and he is getting better, he's just taking more time in this aspect of training. If your cats haven't dealt with a puppy before, more likely than not, they won't be super lovey to her.


I have barriers (baby gates) up for the cats to have "dog free" places to go. During the day, they have free reign of the house. When I'm home, there's the laundry room, a bathroom, and a spare bedroom gated off for them if they want to be alone (typically they don't but will go there if the puppy is being too annoying).


I think a trainer isn't a bad idea! Congrats on the cute puppy, btw!
 

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I give my cat a safe place in his crate. And I just keep dragging her off of him. 4 weeks in...just this morning saw improvement.
 

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I haven't dealt with this as a 24/7 issue but I've been socializing my dog to my girlfriends cats in the anticipation that we are moving in together soon. I would bring the pup over.


What worked for me was to distract the pup when she would start to bark. And reinforce the positive behavior of being in the same room with the cats and no barking. Basically my policy with barking has been, go to them, acknowledge what they are barking at, and then stop them if they continue to bark. This way they know they can bark to get my attention, but constant barking will eventually lead to consequence, whether verbal or being put on time out behind the kitchen gate.


I think it's pretty crucial to allow the pup and the cats to have some contact, even if its negative. The cats are likely going to have to establish their personal space bubble before the dog gets too big. In my experience, my girlfriends 3 cats were each able to warn off my pup before she got too close. We only had one instance where one of the cats finally went after the pup and it was because they got startled by something falling off the bed and went into defense mode. The pup steers clear of the cats now and her barking is kept to a minimum. Basically, you have to let them sort it out themselves while remaining under constant watch to referee if you need to.
 

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Safety and escape routes are key. I used a kid gate about 8 inches off the floor with my adult dogs and made sure the cats had raised areas as well.
Don't force anything, just let it happen. Fair warning though, some dogs learn to really love their cat friends and some will never do better then ignore them. Know your dog is vital for safety.
 

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If I could go back in time, I would do somethings differently. If they would have helped at the time, I do not know.
I would have done a crate and rotate, cat and dog getting used to the scents, no visual contact. Then after sometime I think I would have pup crated and cat crated same room during mellow quite times for short periods, while still practicing the former.
Then when house was calm and quite, hopefully a relaxed tired puppy who is hungry, I would work on the down in place with the high rate of reinforcement open the doors and wait for the cats to make appearances. Pup would be leashed, short sessions. Then once we are good at that, I would have once person with puppy on place giving treats at a rate necessary and one person play in a mellow with the cat. Overtime getting closer and more active as the puppy and cats succeed. Then I would allow cats freedom with all the advice above me with pup tethered to me rewarding all good behavior.

I have 4 cats who are not dog savvy runners. It has been exhausting. My dog is good with 2/4, still working on the younger 2 cats who prefer to be outside. It is better, but I think if I had done better at the start these things would be much easier.
My dog loves the cats, it is just the chasing, he means no harm he just gets triggered, once they stop running he stops. Sucks
 

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Safety and escape routes are key. I used a kid gate about 8 inches off the floor with my adult dogs and made sure the cats had raised areas as well.
Don't force anything, just let it happen. Fair warning though, some dogs learn to really love their cat friends and some will never do better then ignore them. Know your dog is vital for safety.
I am totally fine with "really love" AND with "ignore". But I'm really trying to get ahead of this so that we can nip any bad behaviors in the bud so that we don't wind up with "chase, kill and eat"!!
 

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My current dog hates cats, so no cats here for awhile. I had another GSD who had very high prey drive but did not view cats as prey. She moved in with me and my two young male cats when she was 1-1.5 yrs, and from day one deferred to my big tom cat. They got along like siblings - sometimes they squabbled, sometimes they snuggled, sometimes they cooperated in creating mischief, sometimes she tattled on them when they were up to no good. She lived with 3 other cats in her life and did fine with all of them.

My only advice is to keep a very close eye on them until you know how it’s working out, and make sure the cats have a space to retreat to, safely out of the dog’s reach.
 

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Good luck if the cats don't stand their ground and teach the puppy to be respectful. I had to divide the house in 2 with gates as my old cat was a scaredy cat. What I would've done differently is kept my puppy crated more and on a drag line when she was out of her crate.
Yes, I was going to say, I've always had cats that were more than willing to smack the dogs around, even though I had cats before I every had dogs.

Teagan I got as an adult and she was from the get-go, and always, not safe around the small animals. I think if I'd had her from a puppy and could've shaped her behaviours it would've been different. Right now my guys are fairly cat-neutral, or nervous of them, because they know the cats will eff them up heh. Esme (who has passed on) set the tone as she'd beat the dogs for the sheer joy of it, so they learned not to step out of line (except for Luc, who adored her, and would jump on her, and then wonder why she was smacking him - we started stepping in to reign him in as it wasn't fair to her).

Keeping your puppy on a line in the house until there's a more settled environment between it and the cats should help.
 

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I don't rush the process. Puppies don't really have much in the way of impulse control. Something runs by and they chase, it's what many have been bred to do, chase the rapidly retreating object. I let my pups drag a leash when loose so I can stop chasing and I also set up a crate or ex-pen in the living room so cats can be a round the puppy and still be safe, and the puppy can get use to seeing the cats around.



I don't expect my cats to "train" the puppy. Training the puppy is my job not theirs. If it was a child I doubt anyone would recommend just letting the child teach the puppy not to chase and bite it, that would be the job or the parents not the child.
 

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No expert, but I can tell you how the process went for us.

I brought a working line puppy home to a 7 year old cat that we rescued a couple years before that. We didn't allow Kona (the pup) to harass the cat in anyway, kept her on a leash, dragging it around the house, for several months so we could intervene. Our cat pretty much ghosted the first couple of weeks anyway, only came out when Kona was crated or sleeping. Eventually though, she got more comfortable and came out more often. Pup did go through a stage around 5 or 6 months old where all she wanted to do was chase the cat. UGH. I had a few moments during that time wondering if they'd ever be able to co-exist. During this time we upped the emphasis and training on the 'leave it' command. And she always, ALWAYS, was told to leave it when it came to the cat. If she even looked at the cat and got that look in her eye like she was about to give chase, "Leave it." Treat or praise.

So we did our part best we knew how. Our cat took it from there. A couple times when Kona invaded her personal space before we could make her back off, cat gave her a bat or two with a paw and a hiss. Giving her the cat version of a warning bark to back off. Kona has generally learned to respect her space, although now and again she needs a reminder. Our cat was an adult and had come from a home with multiple dogs before we adopted her. It became pretty obvious she knew her way around a dog. Kona has never shown any aggression toward the cat, just the chase drive.

Our cat has many places to hide if she wants to be away, including access through a cat door to the basement where Kona can't follow.

Kona is almost a year now and they are not best friends, but they co-exist perfectly fine. This morning Kona was laying on the bathroom floor next to me when I was getting ready for work and my cat was laying just above her on a ledge, not even looking at one another. They will even occasionally team up. We have caught our cat a few times batting food off the table or counter top on the floor to Kona. LOL
 

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It took nearly a year of work with Cassidy and kitties Elvis and then Emmylou before I was comfortable leaving them loose in the house while we were home. Never when we were gone, but to the point where I trusted them enough not to have to be in the same room, constantly supervising. It took another year to get them all close enough together at the same time to take this photo, the only one I ever got of all three of them:



It was a very painstaking process, but we finally got there. None of the other intros since then were as difficult, but we did always have a cat room protected by a baby gate as a safe place for the cats to retreat to. Definitely keep the puppy on a drag line around the house when the cats aren't closed up somewhere.

One thing I always teach a new puppy is the "find it" game, which worked great for distracting and redirecting Cassidy. I'd toss a treat on the floor and say "find it'. Once they grasped the concept I'd toss the treat further away. It's also useful for the early stages of recall training - toss the treat, "find it", then call the pups name and reward again when she gets to you. Gradually increase the distance. Rinse/repeat. Eventually, the dog will run in from another room if they hear you call "find it". If Cassidy spotted Elvis and looked like she was going to chase, I yelled "find it" and tossed a handful of tiny treats at her. They'd bounce off and land all over the floor, and she'd immediately start scarfing them up. Elvis, not being a dummy, soon figured out what that meant too, so he'd run towards her and snag a few treats for himself. The day I saw them eating treats off the floor together I knew they were going to be okay.
 

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It took nearly a year of work with Cassidy and kitties Elvis and then Emmylou before I was comfortable leaving them loose in the house while we were home. Never when we were gone, but to the point where I trusted them enough not to have to be in the same room, constantly supervising. It took another year to get them all close enough together at the same time to take this photo, the only one I ever got of all three of them:



It was a very painstaking process, but we finally got there. None of the other intros since then were as difficult, but we did always have a cat room protected by a baby gate as a safe place for the cats to retreat to. Definitely keep the puppy on a drag line around the house when the cats aren't closed up somewhere.

One thing I always teach a new puppy is the "find it" game, which worked great for distracting and redirecting Cassidy. I'd toss a treat on the floor and say "find it'. Once they grasped the concept I'd toss the treat further away. It's also useful for the early stages of recall training - toss the treat, "find it", then call the pups name and reward again when she gets to you. Gradually increase the distance. Rinse/repeat. Eventually, the dog will run in from another room if they hear you call "find it". If Cassidy spotted Elvis and looked like she was going to chase, I yelled "find it" and tossed a handful of tiny treats at her. They'd bounce off and land all over the floor, and she'd immediately start scarfing them up. Elvis, not being a dummy, soon figured out what that meant too, so he'd run towards her and snag a few treats for himself. The day I saw them eating treats off the floor together I knew they were going to be okay.
???
 

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It took nearly a year of work with Cassidy and kitties Elvis and then Emmylou before I was comfortable leaving them loose in the house while we were home. Never when we were gone, but to the point where I trusted them enough not to have to be in the same room, constantly supervising. It took another year to get them all close enough together at the same time to take this photo, the only one I ever got of all three of them
Quoted because I do not know how to tag. Awesome post, I will be adding this game to my fun box! Love the strategy. Thank you. Also appreciate the honesty at how long of a process this was for you. It has been 4 months short of 2 years for me. While we have made huge progress, still work to do, no doubt we will get there as I figure out what works and how to teach the dog to think before reacting, make good choices. :)

This photo is with the kitty who is my biggest issue, she is such a tease and a young kitty. Having the dog be calm, not focused on the cat and enjoying the view was a big accomplishment for us. Also shared because I find the photo just cute.
 

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That IS a great picture, Apex! And good for you for putting in the time and effort to get to this point. How difficult or easy it is depends on many factors, not the least is the demeanor of the cat/s. I always thought that if the cats had whacked her good even one time, it would have made a big difference but Elvis and Emmy were not inclined to do that.

Some observations from my personal experience of having cats and GSDs together for nearly 30 years (YMMV):

A dog savvy cat is going to be easier to introduce to a new dog friend than one who has never known a dog before. And as someone mentioned earlier, a cat who stands its ground fares better than one that runs since the latter is a prey object. What my cats learned is that being on the floor they were more likely to be considered prey, but once they were at eye level that was no longer the case. They would run into the room and jump up onto the coffee or side tables or onto the couch and they were suddenly her equal. It turned off her prey drive instantly.

Raising a young dog and young cat together is the easiest of all, which we were able to do with Sneaker and Punkin, but barring that, introducing a puppy to an adult cat is easier than a kitten to an adult dog. Of course that does depend on the cat and dog in question but it's a generality that has been true for me and my pets. Since Elvis and Emmy were raised with Cassidy, after she was gone things went much smoother with Dena, then Keefer, and after we lost Dena, with Halo. What was really interesting is how well they ended up learning to read Cassidy. They could somehow tell when she was more likely to chase and would keep their distance, but other times they would walk right up to her laying on the floor and start grooming her face.
 
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