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GSD from rescue home. 3yrs old one previous owner who died. We were told he was ok with kids and other dogs but untried with cats. We have 5 cats!!.....He REALLY doesn't seem to like them and wont let them near the house. We have also found him to be way too exciteable on the lead and rears up pulling when he sees other dogs or just about anything whilst walking. We are starting him on training on Sat but could do with some advice on how to introduce him to the cats?
Any help would be REALLY REALLY apreciated!!!
you can email me direct on (Email address deleted.)

Regards dusty
 

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You really don't want to include your email address on a public forum. If someone has some advice for you (sorry, I don't) they can post a response here or the can send you a private message through the forum.)
 

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if you can have the cats all in a room that has a door on it or even have him in a room so that he can smell the cats but cant get at them. and always have him leashed if near the cats and praise when he doesn't go towards them. As you are unsure how he will react with the cats i wouldn't leave him alone with them
 

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Discussion Starter #5
We have taken the sad decision to return him to the shelter under advice from the vet. His prey drive is too strong and it is highly likely he will kill the cats. Many thanks for your comments though. We are planning to adopt another asap so will remain in the forum.
dusty
 

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We have taken the sad decision to return him to the shelter under advice from the vet. His prey drive is too strong and it is highly likely he will kill the cats. Many thanks for your comments though. We are planning to adopt another asap so will remain in the forum.
dusty
hope you find one that will suit your house. i know its hard to find the prefect dog when you have cats. i know i had a hard time trying to find the perfect dog/puppy.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
We nearly gave up! The rescue centre had even arranged for us to take him back. Then, someone came up with a great idea....dog crate! Sometimes the proverbial rocket it all it takes? Anyway, we are sticking with it, he is too good a dog to give up on and we know we have reacted a bit hastily. Will keep you updated but ANY SUGGESTIONS WILL BE GLADLY APPRECIATED?
dusty
 

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How is a dog crate going to miraculously make your dog not kill your cats? Are you talking about confining him 24/7?

You need to put serious, professional work into conditioning this dog to tolerate cats. And you need to protect the lives of your cats by keeping him on-leash or contained literally at every moment of every day until he gets there. Are you really prepared to do this? No offense, but it seems like you're not prepared for this.

You need to realize that dogs kill cats all the time. People often don't realize that their dog can and will kill other animals -- right up until it happens, and it's too late. You are responsible for your cats' safety. Please protect them.

He REALLY doesn't seem to like them and wont let them near the house.
What does this mean? Are you keeping the cats outside and letting the dog chase them away from the house, preventing them from accessing their home?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hi begamot. It seems we are doing just that it seems? Crap! I am a 1st time dog owner and have taken on probably the worst possible dog breed I could find to bring home to a house that has had 5 cats living quite happily for up to 6 years? I think we made the initial mistake of putting the cats out when we introduced Flint to the house and now he IS chasing them away! Ok, you have a really valid point here? So, now I need to know what I can do to try to resolve this? I know it isn't going to be easy and need to undo this huge mistake? (I'm not perfect and am going to make mistakes) but we ARE all willing to work with him. The idea of the dog crate was to put him in it as we gradually re-introduced the cats into the house? Flint would only be in the crate whilst we fed the cats in another room, or allowed the cats to go upstairs into a closed room etc. We have also got him booked in for training classes started this saturday which we hope will help socialize him with other dogs etc. Yes, its difficult. But so was raising 4 sons on my own. I don't give up, honest! I just need some guidance and your statement has made a lot of sense for why he is reacting like he is? I thankyou for that. x
 

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first i would put him in the crate or something in so that you can bring in the cats. As your dog could be trying to protect his yard. cause i know my dog had no real prey drive but would chase any cats that came into her yard, unless it was her cat. Hope they all can live happily together or even just live in the same house with out hurting each other.
 

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I'm sorry but I don't think that you are in a good position to make this work. I think you should return him to the shelter. You can sponsor him there to ensure that he is not euthanized, and you can look for a foster home for him.

He should not be ABLE to "chase them away" -- because he should be contained (in a closed room or crate) or on lead 24/7, for the safety of the cats. I fear that you are not going to learn the consequences of your decisions until one of your cats is killed. You yourself wrote this:

We have taken the sad decision to return him to the shelter under advice from the vet. His prey drive is too strong and it is highly likely he will kill the cats.
While he remains in your care, you should bring all your cats back into their home -- it's their home! -- and keep the dog on a leash at all times indoors and outdoors, except when he is crated. You need to also learn to redirect his attention so that he doesn't focus on them. But from your posts I don't think you are in the position to do the work needed to make this dog safe around cats. I think that it was a mistake to adopt a dog without finding out whether or not he would be cat-safe -- and now you have to make the sad decision to do what's right for all your pets. The longer you keep him, the harder it will be. But bringing him back to the shelter doesn't have to mean giving up on him. You can sponsor him and look for a foster home, and you can go there to volunteer to walk him until he's adopted.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Begemot, I appreciate your comments about leads etc and agree that it is the cats home. We hit a brick wall admittedly and almost caved in, we chose not to because Flint really is a great dog and needs a chance. We have, today, again spoken to a highly recommended GSD trainer in this area, who thinks Flint is showing nervous aggression? It is not only cats he attacks but dogs too. The trainer and dog behaviourist are meeting Flint this Saturday and he is going to be introduced to other dogs. The trainer is convinced he can help us resolve this issue and we have also arranged neutering to be done sooner rather than later. The cat issue is going to take a long time we know but we do also have some suggestions on how this might be slowly achieved, even if it is just a comfortable compromise? I would NEVER endanger my cats and Flint does NOT get locked up 24/7. The crate has been purchased to put Flint in for brief periods as we slowly introduce the cats on a daily basis. If you do not agree with this, do you have any further suggestions?
 

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The cat issue is going to take a long time we know but we do also have some suggestions on how this might be slowly achieved, even if it is just a comfortable compromise? I would NEVER endanger my cats and Flint does NOT get locked up 24/7. The crate has been purchased to put Flint in for brief periods as we slowly introduce the cats on a daily basis. If you do not agree with this, do you have any further suggestions?
When he is not in the crate, what are you doing? Is he always on leash (indoors)? Or are the cats kept closed in another part of the house? Try to explain the arrangement you have now, and people can offer advice.

When he sees a cat, what does he do and what do you do in response?

You can also search for threads on this topic. You can start conditioning him to ignore them immediately, while you're waiting for the trainer.
 

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I have 3 dogs, one of them a 7 month old GSD and 5 cats...all are indoor pets--so outside is not an option. When you are dealing with cats that have not been around a dog or a dog(whether its a GSD or not) that has not been around cats that can be trouble. Now add to the mix a fear aggressive dog, which is more common in GSD's then you think, I'm not to sure the cats are safe. This is going to require lots of training and supervision on your part. My GSD loves the cats and vice versa...yes she chases them around the house but not aggressively, they play. You are right about a GSD being a bad choice for a first time dog owner. They are VERY high energy and require lots of training and socializing. Getting the dog in obedience classes immediately will be the deciding factor if the fear aggression can be nipped. Some dogs with this do not ever change and it can be very dangerous for someone that isn't familiar with it. There are forums that are directed toward GSD's and lots of knowledge comes out of there....I would advise that you join and ask as many questions as possible and follow the advice. Good Luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Okay, lets spell this out. Flint roams the house freely and the garden, once we have checked the cats are not about (yes! We removed them prior to bringing Flint into the house because we were convinced he might attack them - that was our mistake). THE ONLY TIME Flint goes in the crate is for about 5 mins twice a day whilst the cats come in the front door, eat and leave. At this point, the cats are in the hall with me whilst Flint is in the crate in the lounge with my partner present. We then let Flint out once the cats are outside and safe. Flint then smells where the cats have been etc etc. Now, what we thought was that if we can continue to do this for a week or so and then gradually move the cats food closer to the door (whilst he is still in the crate) we can start to build up a tolerance? Maybe, at some future date, allow him to see them eating from the crate? Again, I would repeat that Flint would only be in the crate for a few minutes whilst the cats ate and then he would be let out to roam freely. At present when he sees a cat, he barks at them and we think is trying to chase them away? He does the same thing though when he is in the car, but with EVERYTHING that comes near? It has been suggested that it could be nervous aggression or that he has been conditioned to guard? If so, we have to work on trying to change this? ps am searching LOTS of sites re behavior and am getting some very positive suggestions from GSD owners too. Do you agree with my idea for the cats?
 

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A cat could reenter the garden and be killed in less than 15 seconds. At the very least, if you continue with the current arrangement, you should not let him roam the garden freely while the cats are outside. Just because you don't see one there when you let him out doesn't mean they will be safe. While the cats are loose outside, you can take him out on leash. You may find a long-line (aka training leads in 15/20/30 feet or more) useful for this.

I don't know what your feelings are about cats as pets, but I don't think it's right to only allow your cats indoors for ten minutes per day. Personally, I don't allow my cats outside at all -- but even if I did, they would have free access to their home at all times. It sounds like you are prioritizing the new dog over the cats' welfare, which I don't think is right. I'm not trying to be belligerent or unhelpful. I'm just genuinely worried about this arrangement. It sounds like the cats' lives are in danger, and even if they aren't killed, they are also not being treated right as pets. Please try not to take offense. I understand that you're in a tough spot and you don't know what to do.

You could crate the dog for a lot longer than five minutes twice each day. If he is crate-trained, he will probably just sleep while in there. Lots of dogs grow to love their crates as a safe haven and quiet napping spot. Then the cats could be allowed indoors during those times.

Now, about the training:

Conditioning him to accept the cats is going to be a hands-on endeavor, not just a matter of him seeing them through the crate door until he gets used to them. If it were me, I would keep him on leash indoors at all times, and allow the cats free access to their home. You can have short training sessions whenever the cats are in the same room as you and the dog, where you use body-blocking (getting between him and the cats and capturing his attention) and redirecting (asking for behaviors like sit and rewarding or playing a game like tug, which redirects his attention to you).

You can also teach him the "Look!" command, which will be very useful with his reactivity to more than just the cats. Start by asking him to look at you when there are no other distractions, and then treat. Keep doing this, and when he's 100% start adding in other distractions and doing it in more stimulating places (the garden, on walks, in the car), and build up to longer amounts of time where he's focused on you before treating. You can then start doing it whenever he looks at the cats, and reward when he breaks his focus on them to look at you. This will also start to build positive associations with the cats -- whenever they're around, he gets treats for being calm! As he gets better with it, reward him with attention, games, and treats any time that he remains calm when in their presence. But keep him on-leash at all times while doing this!

When you are unable to have him leashed to you or your partner (for which you might find one of those belt-attachments useful so your hands are free), you should put him in the crate or in a closed room. For instance, if you need to take a shower, bring him in with you and close the door. That way, the cats are safe. Keep in mind that every time he is allowed to react poorly to them (barking, chasing, fixating) actually reinforces that bad behavior -- so you want to prevent it from occurring at all.

Incidentally, how much exercise is he getting? How much time is spent on walks each day, and other physical activity?
 

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This is a tough situation for sure. If you took emotion out of it, I think you'd admit the most logical choice would've been to return the dog and get a younger and/or less prey driven breed of dog. But I can totally understand that you're already attached to the dog and want to make it work. My wife and I actually just took in a rescue (our first dog) and we have three cats (ages 8, 4 & 4) already. Two of which had never even SEEN a dog before. So we were very concerned about how a dog would fit our household. But we fell in love with the little guy and brought him home. BUT, we had already agreed that if he was too aggressive and it didn't get better in a timely manner we would be open to returning him, heartbreaking as it may be.

What we did was initially brought the dog in through the back door (after making sure none of the cats were around) and shut him in our sun room. We let him sniff around and get used to just this room and his new crate. Once he was comfortable enough we shut him in the crate and opened the door to the sun room. The cats immediately came in and began checking him out. They were all 4 cautious, but not hostile. After about half an hour we let the dog out of the crate. To our surprise, the dog was not aggressive and the cats did not seem bothered in the slightest by him. We thought "Wow, we really lucked out". We weren't entirely right...

The next day, as the dog came out of his shell a bit more he started wanting to play with the cats. Not realizing his size and energy level he freaked all the three of the cats out. Two of them hid for hours and another hissed and popped the dog pretty good. Ever since then, we've kept a close eye on the dog AT ALL TIMES when out of his crate. It's a lot of work to do so but you really can't be too careful.

Now they all seem to be getting along alright but the cats are still slightly skittish. Still, we are going to proceed with extreme caution for the foreseeable future. "Just playing" can quickly escalate into something more. I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if one of my cats were killed because I was too lazy to keep an eye on things.

In a way I applaud what you're trying to do but as a big cat lover, I'm honestly very concerned about your cats. As begemot said, it would only take seconds for one of them to be killed. I also definitely agree that it doesn't seem right to only allow your cats in the house for a few minutes each day. You have to think about what a huge sudden change that is for them. And I don't know what kind of area you live in, but they could potentially be at risk from other predators while outside. I also think you might run the risk of one (or more) of your cats running away.

I'm not saying it won't work. And I'm not trying to be pessimistic. But it sounds like you have a long road ahead of you and I just hope you keep your cats best interest in mind first and foremost. There are 5 of them after all. I wish you the best.
 

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just out of curiosity, has the dog sees you pet your cats? maybe, that way your dog could calms down a little bit. Also, how long have you had your dog?
We also have a cat in our house, although i can't really compare our situation because when we took Dodger in (lab x gsd) he's a pup. What we did to introduce them, My husband and I were sitting close to each other, he pet our dog and I pet our cat (Bristol). While holding onto Dodger's collar, he let Dodger to sniff Bristol's butt (thats what they do! lol) while i'm holding onto Bristol to keep him calms so he won't runaway. We did this numerous times.
I personally don't suggest the dog in crate = cats in house ; dog out crate = cats out the house, sooner or letter one of your cats will not coming back because they no longer feel save and/or loved and crating him while cats are inside just going to make your dog feels insecure more once he out of the crate.
Since your dog is grown up, if i were you i would let them in same big, spacious room..maybe a living room. have your partner sit on a chair or couch hold onto your dog with leash on, lots of treats to reward, and maybe a squeeky toy to distract his attention, meanwhile you sit in a different chair or couch calmly petting your cats, all of them it it's possible :D . Obviously you cannot expect a mircale happens in one time, so do this with you and your partner by taking turns. Hopefully this would make your dog to think that those cats are not his prey.
However, as Titan84 has mentioned, you need to put your best interest on your cats first. Good luck!! :D
 

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Since you are a first time dog owner and its a GSD I would not suggest the leash in the house with cats walking around. If you are not familiar with the body language of a GSD then there could be problems before you can react. Do not think that putting the dog in the crate for longer periods is bad. Dogs do like crates:) I would suggest crating the dog for a longer period--2-4 hours a few times a day with the cats walking around, eating, getting some attention from all family members. When the dog barks or shows aggression, correct immediately and get the focus of the dog on you with treats and praise(Watch Me Command). This will not be a one day thing, I will safely say this should be done for about two weeks, then start taking the dog out of crate(leashed) and see the reaction...if this dog is reactive, you will notice it while he's on a leash and how he is acting with the cats(Leave It Command can work here). Fear aggression and leash reactivity need to be dealt with immediately on a professional level to get the best results. The problem I foresee is that the cats will probably hiss, arch backs, maybe even swat at the dog--my dogs that love the cats will put up with it...a dog that isn't familiar with cats might choose to fight back...In most situations with cats/dogs, its the cats that determine who will be friends and who won't be.
 

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I find there are no quick solutions for these cases, so as impossible as it may seem it can always be rectified. Vets saying you should return him for his hightened prey drive may be true, but this can be fixed through time, exercise and discipline. Dogs with a high prey drive long to chase things - so get him something to chase for at least half an hour a day. Tiring him out would be even better. Teaching him how to fetch is a perfect chasing exercise. Use a tennis ball and tennis racket and make him run it off! When he gets a hang of this, teach him to use his nose. Make games out of treats, hide them in the garden, through the yard etc. or hide the ball abd make him sniff it out. Exercises like these are great for dogs with the natural instinct to hunt, and you will be providing for his needs and working his mind and nose. With the cats - put him on a leash after his exercises every day. You need to confront him with the cats, but also give a firm "hey" and a touch to his neck (as his mother would do) to snap him out of it. Watch his behavior. If you can see him getting excited immidiately redirect his attention. You are the boss here, and you need to claim the cats as yours. I suggest you watch some dog behavior documentaries or perhaps ask a dog psychologist for explanation. As good as dog training is it does not always provide psychological understanding of your dog for you, because it is a human system created for obedience and training - which is also good, but I think getting a dog should be proceeded with knowledge and behavioral awareness. I had to train a three year old Jack Russel (and two Rottweilers) not to attack chickens! The above advice is how I achieved good results, as the dogs and chickens now practically sleeping together. It takes practice and understanding, but the dog cannot be blamed for its behavior. I wish you luck!
 
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