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Hi all! I'm new to the forum and I'm sure this question has been asked before but there's so much great content here that I keep going down different rabbit holes

My husband and I have a 4.5 yo German Shepard named Loki. Loki is a great dog who wants nothing more than to make you happy. When Loki came to live with us as a puppy, we had an older dog named Max and a cat named Butler. Butler hated dogs and while he never attacked either dog, he would hiss, spit, and taunt them. So I guess its safe to say that Loki's first relationship with a cat was not a positive experience. Long story short, Loki killed Butler one night. I don't know if it was an act of aggression or if Loki was playing and not realizing the damage he was doing. Either way, it was devastating. I'd had Butler for a long time. Loki was about 2 years old at the time.

Since then, more cats have come into our lives. Over the past two years, we've had two stray cats show up on our porch starving and desperate for shelter and we could not turn them away. We've since adopted these two cats (had them spayed, neutered, chipped, etc.). Very recently, my husband and I have moved out to the countryside and we have 8 acres of land. One of the adopted strays is an indoor/outdoor cat and the other is outdoor only. Loki has seen these cats on a regular basis at our old house and they have met him too (though they prefer their own personal space). We've worked very hard with Loki to establish positive relationships with these cats but its still a work in progress. My husband and I are working to make sure all of our pets are adjusting to the move and I'm working to familiarize the cats with the outdoor setting here. Loki is on an underground fence so obviously their territories overlap.

My question is this: Are there any suggestions for establishing a positive relationship between Loki and the cats? When I've had either cat outside, I do not like the way Loki is looking at them. Intense stare, ears up, forward posture. I'm terrified of the same thing happening again. Loki has not had a negative experience with either cat. Any advice will be so appreciated! Thank you!
 

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I doubt whether Loki's experience with Butler lead to his death or created a bad experience. He probably is high prey drive and I personally would not work on a positive relationship but would focus on a strict Leave It relationship.
 

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Hello! I have been in your position before and it was very scary.

I had left my two dachshunds uncrated in the house and when I came back, one cat had been killed. I was very heartbroken. Those dogs had known the cat for at least 2 yrs. I had one cat left and I didn’t want to adopt anymore cats until the dachshunds has passed.

Well, fast forward a few months and that is when I found two tiny kittens by the road. I left them there to see if the mother would come back, but I doubted it. You see, I live by a 55 mph country road where people think they can do whatever they want, so I was nervous for the kittens. Before long, I brought them into the house and gave them the proper attention. I kept them in a separate room to let them slowly get used to my house. Once they were confident, I started to do 3 minute meetings through a closed door about 2-3 x a day. That way they could smell each other and get acclimated. One of my dachshunds would completely freeze and start shaking, so that is where the “look” command came in. Whenever he was too focused (there is a difference between curious and hunt mode) I would give the “look” command to redirect his attention. This took about a week for my dog to not be as tense around the kittens.

If that goes well, then start letting them meet through something like a glass door so not only can they smell each other, they can see each other. Once again, practice the “look” command and also others like “sit” to keep your dog from focusing all of his attention on getting to that cat. Do this for at least a week, even if your dog seems fine.

Next, I used a head collar like a gentle leader or a halti lead to get the most control and I would let one cat out while I had the dog on leash. Don’t even let your dog focus on the cat. Use some commands, but also move around with your dog at the “heel” command. You can use treats too. Then, I would briefly let my dog see the cat, but once he started to pull for the cat I quickly gave a (very gentle) tug to redirect and a stern “leave it”. When the dog would look at me, that’s when I would praise them.

Gradually, I would let them get closer, but make sure the cat is confident too because if the cat is acting flighty, then the dog’s “chase” mode is triggered. I really recommend a head collar because if the dog lunges, then the head will quickly get turned around. But my other dog needed a prong collar and an e collar (not used at the same time of course) to get his attention. Every dog is different. During this adjustment time, I would keep the dog on leash at all times when the cats are loose in the house, only taking it off during exercise outside and when the cats are put in a separate room for the dog to take a break. When you leave the house, put the dog in a crate to make sure nothing bad happens, even after the dog is friends with the cat. This may take days, weeks, or months, but I believe in you ? Once my dogs started ignoring the cats, I would still leave the leash on but not hold it, but with you still watching and supervising. Only when you, the cats, and your dog are completely comfortable, you can start taking the leash off.

It took my dogs about 2 months to to go from trying to kill the kittens to being like their best friends (well.... at least the kittens think that they’re besties. The dogs think the kittens are like annoying little nieces sometimes lol).

Introducing the pets helps if your dog gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to prevent frustration and boredom. Also a lot of spending time together with the cats and dog. My advice is to keep calm and be in control. If your dog senses your fear and anxiety, they will think: a.) my master (or slave in my case lol) is nervous about the cat. I have to protect them. Or b.) my master is not in control. I don’t have to be serious about this and I can do whatever I please.

I hope all goes well and I hope my post helps. Good luck!
 
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