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Hi All,

I've been a longtime lurker, but this is my first post. Can anyone provide me tips/experiences/anecdotes relating to training GSD puppies to accept cats as part of the pack (or at least mitigate the risk of harm)?

Some Background:

We recently added a 10-week old puppy to our home (11 weeks now) named Albie. He is the absolute best: already house-trained, can sit, and can leave it with toys and treats (though having him apply it to the cats is a bit trickier). He already has a good sense of bite inhibition. We also have two 5 year-old cats who have never been around dogs for an extended period of time. They are less than enthused, though curious enough to come around often and check Albie out once in a while. They'll sleep in the same room as him if he's sleeping or being calm. That said, each cat has a different reaction when Albie wants to check them out: One cat hisses at Albie and puts him in his place whenever he gets too excited. The other runs, which triggers Albie to want to chase. The latter is who I'm most concerned about in the long run. The chasing doesn't seem aggressive--just playful and curious--but I know there is a fine line between chasing and triggering a tunnel vision prey drive.

Behavior-wise: If Albie is amped up he will run playfully towards the cats. If they don't engage in play he barks. If they hiss then he lays down and puts his head low on the ground or backs up and sits. Sometimes he's content to just watch them and loses interest quickly. But usually when they turn their back to leave he'll follow. I wouldn't say he's fixated--it's easy to get break attention when he's focusing on a cat. And again, if they're just hanging out he typically gives them little notice. I think he sees them as mean/cold puppies and is not sure what to make of them, but wishes they'd play.

Anyway: are there any glimmers of hope? I've read terrifying accounts of owners' GSDs randomly killing the house cat and I would be devastated if that ever happened. I love my cats to death and sometimes feel guilty I have put them in this position because we wanted to add a dog to our family. There are "cat safe spaces" throughout the house--the cats have free rein w/ some rooms designated cat-only (blocked off by heavy-duty gates with small cat doors/upstairs). We, of course, would never leave our the dog/cats unsupervised together. And currently, when inside, the dog is always on a short leash to manage cat interactions. We are lucky to have jobs that have at least one of us home at all times--this has helped significantly w/ training, exercise, and supervision.

If anyone has two cents to offer, it would be most appreciated! Thank you!
 

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Same thing with my cats: one runs and one mauls. Every once in a while the runner will blast out at Kias in a little kitty fit. kias does the exact same thing your dog does.

My tip: Gentle interactions. "easy" is my modo with Kias and the cats, and my favorite word as well. :D No chasing the cats. I sometimes feed my cats their favorite food beside the dog while he is eating as a little "truce" if you will. It helps teach both parties to be calm in the same room and do their own thing.
 

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Thanks for the encouragement. I feed my cats special treats where they can see the dog and/or near his harness so they smell him and I think that does help. I'm hoping to get him to see the cats as part of the pack best as possible!
 

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Also long time lurker and first post!

We got Levon at 8wks with a 1.5yr. old cat and 5mo. old kitten already in the house. He was a pest with them at first (Cooper, the older cat tried to boss him around a bit but that stopped working as Levon got bigger). We were pretty strict about their interactions and today he's 7 months and the three of them are perfectly fine together, walk right by and greet each other, and he and the kitten often cuddle on the couch (we also wake up to all three of them on the bed with us. joy -_-). Here's what we did/still do if any of these might help, but obviously every situation is different.

-Everyone gets fed at the same time of day, but the cats get their meals first no exceptions. We also like to give all three of them treats at the same time for positive reinforcement being around each other, saying each of their names as they get them, Levon always last again. He learned quick that the cats are very much a big part of the pack and were here first.

-You'll see it a lot on here, but absolutely no. chasing. the. cats. Absolutely no barking at them either. We wanted a specific command for this instead of "leave it" so we use a firm "No cats!" and an immediate timeout if he didn't listen.

-We have those same gates, but in basically every doorway. The cats are free to roam wherever they want, while Levon is usually restricted to the room we're in. He doesn't bother trying to chase them even when they're all hyped up jumping off the walls. You're ahead of the game with those cat-only designated areas!

-When the cats do want to come up to him, we also use "easy" while he sniffs or licks them, just to remind him we're watching and he has to be gentle. As Kathrynil said, gentle interactions.

-They play "together" with a laser pointer. I stand on one side of a gate and use the laser pointer for the cats to chase, then switch over to the other side of the gate for Levon to chase it. While it's on the cat side, Levon watches them play until it's his turn.

I've had cats and GSDs together all my life and I've never had a bad experience. The cats might take some time but eventually they'll just accept it if they know they're safe around him and then hopefully warm up to having a pup companion who knows the rules.
 

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Also long time lurker and first post!

We got Levon at 8wks with a 1.5yr. old cat and 5mo. old kitten already in the house. He was a pest with them at first (Cooper, the older cat tried to boss him around a bit but that stopped working as Levon got bigger). We were pretty strict about their interactions and today he's 7 months and the three of them are perfectly fine together, walk right by and greet each other, and he and the kitten often cuddle on the couch (we also wake up to all three of them on the bed with us. joy -_-). Here's what we did/still do if any of these might help, but obviously every situation is different.

-Everyone gets fed at the same time of day, but the cats get their meals first no exceptions. We also like to give all three of them treats at the same time for positive reinforcement being around each other, saying each of their names as they get them, Levon always last again. He learned quick that the cats are very much a big part of the pack and were here first.

-You'll see it a lot on here, but absolutely no. chasing. the. cats. Absolutely no barking at them either. We wanted a specific command for this instead of "leave it" so we use a firm "No cats!" and an immediate timeout if he didn't listen.

-We have those same gates, but in basically every doorway. The cats are free to roam wherever they want, while Levon is usually restricted to the room we're in. He doesn't bother trying to chase them even when they're all hyped up jumping off the walls. You're ahead of the game with those cat-only designated areas!

-When the cats do want to come up to him, we also use "easy" while he sniffs or licks them, just to remind him we're watching and he has to be gentle. As Kathrynil said, gentle interactions.

-They play "together" with a laser pointer. I stand on one side of a gate and use the laser pointer for the cats to chase, then switch over to the other side of the gate for Levon to chase it. While it's on the cat side, Levon watches them play until it's his turn.

I've had cats and GSDs together all my life and I've never had a bad experience. The cats might take some time but eventually they'll just accept it if they know they're safe around him and then hopefully warm up to having a pup companion who knows the rules.
Ooh laser pointer. Good idea. Got plenty of those around her and Pursey will die for one. I'll have to remember that.
 

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Actually, I would STRONGLY caution you that lasar pointers can be very dangerous to use with some dogs!

There have been a number of threads on this forum about people whose dog(s) exhibited OCD issues, and in some cases serious aggression, after being played with with a lasar pointer! One guys dog attacked him when the power went out and he turned on his cell phone!

Definitely not a safe thing to play with with your dog!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Also long time lurker and first post!

We got Levon at 8wks with a 1.5yr. old cat and 5mo. old kitten already in the house. He was a pest with them at first (Cooper, the older cat tried to boss him around a bit but that stopped working as Levon got bigger). We were pretty strict about their interactions and today he's 7 months and the three of them are perfectly fine together, walk right by and greet each other, and he and the kitten often cuddle on the couch (we also wake up to all three of them on the bed with us. joy -_-). Here's what we did/still do if any of these might help, but obviously every situation is different.

-Everyone gets fed at the same time of day, but the cats get their meals first no exceptions. We also like to give all three of them treats at the same time for positive reinforcement being around each other, saying each of their names as they get them, Levon always last again. He learned quick that the cats are very much a big part of the pack and were here first.

-You'll see it a lot on here, but absolutely no. chasing. the. cats. Absolutely no barking at them either. We wanted a specific command for this instead of "leave it" so we use a firm "No cats!" and an immediate timeout if he didn't listen.

-We have those same gates, but in basically every doorway. The cats are free to roam wherever they want, while Levon is usually restricted to the room we're in. He doesn't bother trying to chase them even when they're all hyped up jumping off the walls. You're ahead of the game with those cat-only designated areas!

-When the cats do want to come up to him, we also use "easy" while he sniffs or licks them, just to remind him we're watching and he has to be gentle. As Kathrynil said, gentle interactions.

-They play "together" with a laser pointer. I stand on one side of a gate and use the laser pointer for the cats to chase, then switch over to the other side of the gate for Levon to chase it. While it's on the cat side, Levon watches them play until it's his turn.

I've had cats and GSDs together all my life and I've never had a bad experience. The cats might take some time but eventually they'll just accept it if they know they're safe around him and then hopefully warm up to having a pup companion who knows the rules.
This was so encouraging and helpful--thank you! We'd been working on "leave it" but Albie has trouble applying that to the cats. We will definitely try out "no cats!"

We did start enforcing the no chasing/barking thing using time outs and it seems to have helped. Today after a bout of good behavior letting the cats walk by with little care, he successfully sniffed my grumpy cat's butthole (lol) but then got a hiss. Pumped, he tried to follow the cat and got more hisses (I had a hold of him). He then laid down and started growling which I did not like so he got a prompt time out. Hoping it was more of a frustrated, "why aren't you playing" growl than a "I will eat you" one, but I can't tell.

Anyway, he pretty much left them alone after that for the evening. Hoping for more progress. All of them sleeping on the bed with us one day would be sublime.

We plan to add more gates since they are helping. They'll help even more after he can't fit through the cat door (any day now lol!). Till then he always has a leash and we keep him in the same room as us.

Thanks again for a stellar first time post. I'm glad you reached out from the void!
 

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I agree to get rid of the laser pointer.

 

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Okay, I'll remember that.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
personally I have a dog and a cat, but my dog cat's stand the cat :(
Oh no! I'm sorry. Sadly it seems the bff cat/dog scenario on the internet is misleading.

To update re: Albie: luckily it seems our problem is more the cats being aggressive towards the dog. Over the last few weeks he's really been behaving well around them. If he accidentally runs into one he immediately goes into a submissive posture until the cat feels safe and walks away. They sleep in the same room together, walk by each other, and he doesn't seem to fixate (and if he looks at them it's easy to divert his attention). The exception: if the cats are accidentally nice to him (sniff his face and don't hiss or swat) he gets excited and will calmly follow them, tail wagging. He then gets scolded and/or swatted.

We took him to a friend's recently to meet a dog-friendly cat and he was so happy. I still think he looks at ours as weirdly grumpy puppies. But he truly seems to respect them /see them as part of the family, and I hope that lasts as he gets older fingers crossed.
 

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Wow!!! So many pets. This is crazy:) By the way, how do you manage to care about them all? This should be very HARD… Puppies and cats are always fight, right? According to stereotypes, but it is not true at all. If they grow together this stereotype doesn’t work. For instance, I have two dons and a cat, and they are literally BEST FRIENDS. I don’t know if it was good option, but the first think I did was buying a common “house” to them. It was actually a large cat tree, because I couldn’t found a tree for dong too, but my puppies accepted it like their own place and very fast got used to use it with cats at the same time. May be it united them somehow, but they become friends in one day… the beginning was very funny, because they have tried to make it their own (each of pets), but it wasn’t a problem to them to get used. So, I don’t know who said that dogs and cats always fight, but its not true at all! Has anybody tried it as well? Does it work?
 

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Update: tohis is the peak so far in our dog/cat saga. And guess what brought the harmony? Bacon. Answer to all conflicts.
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After patiently waiting together while we cooked bacon (kitty rolling around tauntingly and testing Albie's self-control), they ate a little bacon face to face. Albie would watch kitty eat, then it would be his turn. They did great. But once the bacon fumes die down, who knows.

It's funny how kitty will act like Albie is a scary death monster until we are cooking, then he's right there begging next to him, belly-up.
 

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Out of 3 cats by now only one hates Lex.. and I think she actually enjoying it. The other 2 ..Lex can try doing whatever she wants with them till they had enough and then she is the one running away.
 
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