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Discussion Starter #1
We just got a husky/heeler puppy and she’s 9 weeks old and great with our 2 cats right now. But I keep getting told that both huskys and heeler breeds have “high prey drives”, so when my puppy is older will she kill my cats because of her “high prey drive” even if she was raised with them?
 

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We just got a husky/heeler puppy and she’s 9 weeks old and great with our 2 cats right now. But I keep getting told that both huskys and heeler breeds have “high prey drives”, so when my puppy is older will she kill my cats because of her “high prey drive” even if she was raised with them?
You won't know for sure until she's full grown, so between 1 and 2 years old, when her adult instincts come to the fore. Some dogs can learn to see other household pets and livestock as family members, but many dogs, particularly those of primitive breeds and those bred to pursue prey, simply see other non-human, non-canine animals as snacks despite attempts at training. Even if the dog does learn respect/camaraderie with the cats, there's still the risk of him getting excited and grabbing at one - even just rough play or a single instinctive shake could be very damaging or fatal. You can train a strong "leave it" and that helps, but it's only truly effective if you're watching/confining the dog 24/7, which is probably not realistic.

Personally, I wouldn't get a husky if I already had cats, nor would I get a cat if I already had a husky. But you're past that point, so now's the time to think about contingency plans. Do you have a house that you could separate into zones, like upstairs for cats, downstairs for dog? Will you be wiling to rehome either the cats or the dog if the dog proves a real danger to them? etc.
 

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We have a stabij who is a hunting breed and a beagle/hound who was adopted at 18 months and hunts 24/7
We also have a parrot who is out of his cage all day. We never leave the dogs alone with the parrot because even though our stabij has grown up with him and we have done a lot of training with the beagle we know its never 100% safe, if the bird flies/ flutters /flits too close to the dog the instinct is to grab.
Even if they didnt mean to kill a heavy paw from the dog could be enough to injure or kill the bird. So if you have a dog with a high prey drive you can never 100% trust they wont at some point injure or kill small pets not because they are meaning harm but because thats the way they are bred ..


I think your predicament is a great example of why people should do shedloads of research about the breed before getting the dog!
 

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We just got a husky/heeler puppy and she’s 9 weeks old and great with our 2 cats right now. But I keep getting told that both huskys and heeler breeds have “high prey drives”, so when my puppy is older will she kill my cats because of her “high prey drive” even if she was raised with them?
Dont worry your cats safe. I have a malamute/heeler/collie cross and a cat. I had my cat first. My dog has a high prey drive with small animals but is very respectful and 100% safe with my cat. Being a pup i can assure you you she will respect your cat growing up. This is from my perspective others can disagree if they wish.
 

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Dont worry your cats safe. I have a malamute/heeler/collie cross and a cat. I had my cat first. My dog has a high prey drive with small animals but is very respectful and 100% safe with my cat. Being a pup i can assure you you she will respect your cat growing up. This is from my perspective others can disagree if they wish.
Alternative experience: my mom's two dogs played tug of war with her cat as the rope.
 

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Alternative experience: my mom's two dogs played tug of war with her cat as the rope.
Unfortunatly i know that horrible feeling. Zoe my family cat growing up was killed by 2 pitbulls that lived down the rd. One dog was each side of her and tore her in half. I will only ever keep a cat indoors and let them outside in enclosed yard if i 100% know theres no means of escape
 

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Yep sorry my dog's came across a cat who had forced its way into my garden through 3 layers of fencing one had the front and one had the back-end luckily my interventions saved the cat but there is just no trusting hunting dogs 100% not to do what they are bred for their prey drive overtakes training if they get the chance.
 

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It is impossible to say. I have heard accounts of dogs living with cats their whole lives and a variety of outcomes:
-dogs who kill other cats but have not harmed the cats in their home
-dogs who harm other animals but not the cats in their home
-dogs who are fine with their cats but are adopted into another home and kill the new cats
-dogs who killed one cat in the home and not the other
 

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Discussion Starter #9
You won't know for sure until she's full grown, so between 1 and 2 years old, when her adult instincts come to the fore. Some dogs can learn to see other household pets and livestock as family members, but many dogs, particularly those of primitive breeds and those bred to pursue prey, simply see other non-human, non-canine animals as snacks despite attempts at training. Even if the dog does learn respect/camaraderie with the cats, there's still the risk of him getting excited and grabbing at one - even just rough play or a single instinctive shake could be very damaging or fatal. You can train a strong "leave it" and that helps, but it's only truly effective if you're watching/confining the dog 24/7, which is probably not realistic.

Personally, I wouldn't get a husky if I already had cats, nor would I get a cat if I already had a husky. But you're past that point, so now's the time to think about contingency plans. Do you have a house that you could separate into zones, like upstairs for cats, downstairs for dog? Will you be wiling to rehome either the cats or the dog if the dog proves a real danger to them? etc.
We don’t have upstairs, and the dog would go before the cats would, but should I just find her a new home now?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Should I keep her? I really want to keep her and her be good with cats as an adult, she’s good with them now, but I can’t let her kill them, they were here first
 

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I mean, if people with dogs and cats were to rehome their dog at ANY chance of their dog killing the cat, there probably wouldn't be many dog-cat households out there. Good management is key. For example, if your cats have ample space to go high, hide, etc. IF they were to be chased or if some prey instinct is triggered in your dog in the future, then they'd likely be fine. Also, predatory instinct can appear very quickly, but it isn't completely unpredictable like 'my dog was cuddling my cat on the couch then suddenly bit its head off'.

A more believable progression would be something like... My dog has always loved chasing my cat when she runs. Sometimes they are calm in the same room together and they've even cuddled before. But when my cat is playing or moving around, my dog sometimes stares at her really intently. A few times my dog has chased my cat up the couch and my cat hissed and swatted his nose. I've had to pull my dog away from my cat. Sometimes when my cat is clearly uncomfortable and hissing/growling/swatting, my dog doesn't back off and continues antagonizing the cat. My dog was chasing my cat like he normally does, but this time he was on top of my cat acting really worked up and my cat was really unhappy about it....

If the dog hurts the cat it will generally be when the cat is moving, and the movement stimulates the dog in some way. It's not random. And there will have been clear signs in the past that the potential was there.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Oh gotcha! I also talked to a few of my friends who have cats and high prey drive dogs, like one of my friends has a German Shepard and a husky and they both were raised with cats and they can play a little tough sometimes but know not to hurt the cats, she made me feel a lot better, I was almost in tears thinking about this instinct in breeds thing, I already love our new puppy and I REALLY don’t want to get rid of her but my cats were here first and one of my cats I’ve had for years and I’ve been through so much with him I can’t let him get killed, but I’m going to keep training and doing all the advice I’ve been given and I have high hopes she’ll be okay with our cats
 

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That is the best anyone can do :)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
And I will keep intently watching her body language and behavior, at the moment she is constantly playing and sleeping and she play bites a bunch, but she’s not showing any sort of aggression towards my cats and toddler, just playing
 

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That's awesome that you are being watchful and asking a lot of questions!

One thing I want to mention is playing is an extension of prey drive. Think of a wolf hunting - there are many behaviors like: tracking, crouching, stalking, chasing, herding, biting, gripping, shaking, tearing, disemboweling, consuming. Domestic dogs have been bred to exhibit exaggerations of certain traits. Border collies are neurotic about the herding part, but they wouldn't be much use if they went further and harmed their stock. Hounds excel most at the tracking part. Terriers do little herding and stalking but are very aggressive at dispatching vermin with bites and head shakes. In comparison, German shepherds bred for protection work bite and hold more so.

I absolutely do not think 'dog playing with cat' necessarily turns into 'dog kills cat'. So I truly wouldn't worry too much if I were you! But I want to mention this because just-play does not mean both parties will be safe either, since play is closer to prey drive than aggression is. Although there is no one definition for aggression, most behavior folks will agree that when a dog kills a small animal it is due to prey drive (ie, I want it!) rather than due to aggression (ie, I attack because I am afraid!). I would absolutely intervene if a dog was playing too hard with a cat and the cat was not enjoying it, as there is a point where play no longer becomes play. But plenty of dogs and cats wrestle and are fine!

I want to share a story of an Australian shepherd I was boarding for my friend. The dog was super sweet and sensitive, and ball crazy (ball obsession stems from prey drive!). I took the dog on a hike and we came across a grouse and her chicks crossing the trail. The dog didn't even chase, just walked up casually and sniffed one of the chicks, then lied down so that the chick was between her front paws. She then proceeded to ever-so-gently, but unmistakably start plucking this feathers out of the chick. I called her off of what she was doing. But I am absolutely sure she would have killed the bird if I had let her proceed. My friend got a kick out of the story because her dog had never harmed a flea in her life before. But just goes to show... prey drive is a very complex thing and it's not that a dog either has it or doesn't, is intense or isn't. It's all about when and how it might present itself. So just because a dog has high prey drive, doesn't tell you how far they will go in harming an animal, doesn't tell you what species they will be driven to "prey" on, doesn't tell you what prey behaviors will trigger their desires.
 

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My dog has been attacked by several cats without any provocation. He was minding his own sweet business each time. He ruptured his knee due to a cat attacking him. Hes had cats chase him down a rd trying to get him. Hes had a cat jump from a bush onto his back.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Do all puppies play bite and jump constantly? I can’t get her to lay down and cuddle calmly to save my life. But anyways she loves playing LIKE CRAZY with my younger cat, so is that something I should stop because If she was to play the way she does now when she’s bigger I think she would hurt my young adult cat, I’ve been trying to train and prevent any behavior that I know will be a big problem when she’s a bigger puppy, like jumping on my toddler or trying to play bite her, she still kinda does it but do you think it will be enough and she’ll stop if I keep at it?
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
I really love our new dog, and my 2 yr old is crazy about her too, I’m just so paranoid and worried about her Husky/heeler instincts kicking in when she’s bigger and her hurting my 2 cats or daughter, like that’s the only major problem that would arise where we would have to find her a new home is if she hurts them, chewing shoes or potty accidents, or any other non scary dog behavior we are fully prepared to train and work with, All of us liking her so much and being attached already is making me more scared of the ONE THING we cannot have happening. I hope I didn’t make a bad decision getting a husky/red heeler mix. Anybody else on here have experience with blue or red heelers and their instincts? my puppy should have more husky in her because her mom is full blood Light brown and cream husky and her dad is half/half black husky and blue heeler but I think she looks waaaay more blue heeler with her moms light brown colors making her red heeler, so she might act more heeler than husky, which worries me, I’ve heard some great things about heelers but also a lot of bad things so I have no idea, I mean this is my first time having a dog after all
 
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