Cats and Dogs living cohesively. - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-20-2008, 12:30 AM Thread Starter
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Cats and Dogs living cohesively.

I wasn't sure where to put this, so I apologize if this is in the wrong spot.

Anyhow, I have two cats, and two German Shepherds. One of my Shepherds was not socialized with the cats because we were afraid of the cats clawing his eye out. Now whenever he sees the cats, (Rhett in particular) he barks like a maniac. I wanted to fix this as my other Shepherd who was socialized with cats loves them, and I don't want Apollo to hurt them. Rhett clawed at Apollo and I think that is why Apollo doesn't like him very much.

What I was doing is I was muzzling Apollo, and I had him on his prong collar and leash for control. I start out far away with him being able to see the cats. I reward for calm behavior and move closer. If he acts up, I correct him and we back up.

Is there something I am missing, or something else I can do along with this? Right now, a good Leave it is all I have that is reliable without his muzzle.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-20-2008, 01:34 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Cats and Dogs living cohesively.

No one has experience in this that can help me?
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-20-2008, 02:52 PM
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Re: Cats and Dogs living cohesively.

Something that might help is to "claim" the cat. Have someone else work with the dog. You hold the cat, let the dog know that the cat belongs to you. If you have good pecking order established with the dog, this should help get the point across to the dog that the cat is not a toy. Good luck!

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-20-2008, 03:24 PM
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Re: Cats and Dogs living cohesively.

What do you mean by "correct", I personally would never physically punish the dog for acting up around the cat unless it's a dire situation and you must in order to protect the cat. Punishment of this sort can often lead to a dog who still wants to chase but is afraid to, eventually he may just no be able to help himself and you will never have expected it. Plus you don't want the dog to see the cat in a negative light (whenever the cat is near I get punished so I better keep the cat away). I would work with him, keep the muzzle on if it makes you feel safer, from a distance, maybe the doorway of a room where the cat is in. Have the dog sit every few second give a treat (so make sure you can treat through the muzzle). If he breaks the sit close the door, if he sits open the door and start treating again. Eventually release him from his sit and toss a toy or treat in the other direction and close the door when he is busy so he does not see it as him loosing his view of the cat like he has when you've closed it before. keep sessions short at first then increase length and also increase the amount of time between treats. Start to move closer and walk him out of the room for breaking a sit. Eventually he'll be able to sit easily and reliably around the cat then from the sit if the cat comes over you can allow the dog to sniff the cat, you decide if he can stand or not, but at first don't let him try and follow the cat, have him sit when the cat leaves. Give treats for all positive interactions with the cat. Move from there once you feel comfortable, once you are comfortable letting him follow the cat, comfortable letting him sniff without a muzzle, etc. is all up to you.

You can also try working through a baby gate and letting them interact (with juzzle at first) to actually see if the dog wants to get the cat or is simply excited about meeting the cat, but only with the dog on a leash so that he can't jump the fence and only if the cat won't jump the fence to come say hi.

Also remember just looking like he wants to get to a cat does not mean he is dangerous with them. My dog never met a cat in his 8 years of life. he saw them outside and would go INSANE, lunging, barking looking like he REALLY wanted to chase. and then we got Neko and other than being really excited to meet him and us being really nervous we had zero problems and they were best friends.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-20-2008, 06:34 PM
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Re: Cats and Dogs living cohesively.

In March, I brought an adult Akita into my house with my 4 cats (all of which had previously lived with dogs). At first, I wasn't sure how he was going to be, because my cats were all afraid of the new (BIG) dog and would hide. Then I took in a foster cat who was totally at ease with dogs and walked right up to Bogart (the Akita). Suddenly, the dog had a cat head in his mouth. The cat was fine (though his head was a bit damp).

See... When the dog came into my house, he lived on a leash for the first couple months. I had a nice, long training lead for him that I used at various lengths, so I had control of him at all times. When Roo (cat) walked up to Bogart, Bogart seemed curious, but not aggressive. They went nose to nose. I watched, ready. As soon as the dog's mouth opened, and he moved forward, he was corrected. Definitely corrected. I do not use force to train my dogs, but if one went after a cat, I will not hesitate to put a little fear into them. If someone thinks that is wrong, then I am sorry.

As the cats grew braver, we had more and more tests. Most of my training did not involve actual cats, though. From the second the dog walked in my door, the #1 LAW of my house was SIT when I say "Sit," and STAY when I say "Stay." That was not optional. It didn't take long to sink in, so when the cats started coming out, STAY came in very, very useful ("down" and "leave it" were also valuable).

My pit bull has never been a problem, except she's a bit hyper and I have to have her "leave it" if she forgets that cats are cats and NOT dogs to wrestle with.

My Akita... as I type, is tolerating a very affectionate cat rubbing all over him. He has a disgusted look on his face. I won't deny that once in a while, when a cat moves quickly, he tenses up and goes on high alert. I won't deny that some times when he watches a cat (especially a kitten) walking through the house, he sometimes drools a little bit. I won't deny that I will probably never, ever leave him unattended in my house with the cats (he is crated). But as long as I am present, he knows that I am in charge. Not just about the cats, but everything. And I think that is the key... rather than trying to fix one problem, take control of the entire situation.

I do not know how your dogs are trained, so I cannot make any suggestions, I'm just relating my personal situation.

A couple months ago, I brought home a kitten who was at first afraid of the dog... Being a kitten and infinitely bold and curious, though, he couldn't help but venture out more and more. My dog watch intently (and yes, DROOLED a bit) but left him alone. No lunges, no whining, no growling, no barking. It didn't take long before the kitten realized that the big scary beast could not TOUCH him. Arrogant little brat made the best of that and got right under Bogart's nose.

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-21-2008, 08:09 PM
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Re: Cats and Dogs living cohesively.

are you giving him treats and lots of praises everytime hehaves around the cats? keep rewarding him everytime he behaves. How long have you been working on his behaviour?. I really can't offer any training method since i don't know your dog, but maybe consult with a professional Germanshepherd trainer to help you out or have them give you some advice.

Like some have said, do some slow introductions. Have the baby gate up.

Some dogs just don't like cats and since shepherds have natural chase drive i'd keep them apart
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-22-2008, 01:59 AM
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Re: Cats and Dogs living cohesively.

I am a trainer at petsmart, and I've helped people with similar situations before. I have a few suggestions, but a few questions too.

How old is your dog? It sounds to me as if your dog is a puppy or young. If not then this does still apply.

Puppies get nervous of things that are new. When dogs are nervous they bark. This doesn't always mean aggression, it just means 'i;m not sure what's going on, and i'm uncomfortable.' If your dog is just barking I would just let it (esp. if it's young) just be loose around a calmer cat. It sounds as if your cats are used to dogs, then any adult cat who is calm and also can get away quickly will work great. (just in case)

If you do feel there is aggression then there's a few other things you can do. But first, ditch the pinch collar. They may work, but let's face it, if i put that on your neck i could get you to do lots of stuff...and you would hate it. Get a solid collar and some treats. Go to a room where you dog is used to being calm, after a long puppy playtime. Let an adult cat in, and keep puppy on a leash. Ignore the cat. If the dog barks give it a correction. By correction i mean verbal 'hey' or 'uh uh'. Then try to get the dogs attention on something else. Favorite toys work well, as to treats. Stick that distraction right in puppy's face, against their nose, and make it interesting. Wiggle it, get excited about it. If the dog goes for the distraction keep their attention, play with them and praise them for ignoring the cat. If not then you just get to be patient.
If the dog keeps barking and won't be interesting in your distraction then keep ignoring the cat and wait until the dog pauses for breath. You need to be VERY quick to get that treat/toy into puppy's mouth when they stop barking. Work slowly (very slowly) and gradually get the dog to learn that when there is no barking/motion towards the cat they get good things. Obviously if the dog is aggressive then you can't leave it alone with cats, ever. Unless the dog gets to the point where it is totally ok with cats, and the cats still have a place they can escape to.

in my opinion treats, toys, and distractions will work much better for you than a pinch collar. It might not be as quick, but in the long run it is worth the effort. Pinch collars can injure your dog, and are very difficult to use safely. unless you have had training from a professional I would suggest you stop using it.

Good luck with your puppy, i hope it is just curious/nervous behavior and that they can learn to get along well!
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-22-2008, 06:53 PM
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Re: Cats and Dogs living cohesively.

It may be the OTHER Shepherd-the QUIET one-you need to keep an eye on. Bite does not always follow bark. I've never owned a Shepherd,but,in my experience,the ones that attack burglars,or anything they consider to be an intruder are quiet,passive,friendly to legit visitors. It's not so much a dicipline issue,as a recognition issue. Let both dogs know the cats are family-just like them. This may sound odd,but let your Shepherds...sense...the love you have for your cats,them,and any humans in your home.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-26-2008, 08:44 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Cats and Dogs living cohesively.

Thanks for the replies, and sorry I haven't responded sooner, I have been really busy.

First things first:

I have never physically corrected my dog, nor will I ever, that is abuse.

Pinch collars are not dangerous if used properly. I am a member of a german shepherd forum, and I know quite a bit about the breed. Apollo is 10 months old, and nearly 80 lbs, Zeus is 7 months, and almost 60 lbs. Zeus, the quiet one, loves my cats, especially Baby. Baby is just now starting to get comfortable around him. The reason I know Zeus loves the cats is because one night I him out to use the bathroom. Baby was out there laying by the crate on our deck, and I wasn't paying attention and Zeus came up and planted a sloppy wet kiss on Baby.

I have tried the treat method with Apollo, he has too much drive for that to work alone, what I do is that I have the pinch collar and muzzle on, and when he is good, I give him treats through the muzzle. We've actually gotten to the point where I trust him without the muzzle. Apollo wasn't socialized with the cats when he was a small pup like Zeus was. Rhett, my male also hates my dogs. Apollo was in the crate on the deck while I let Zeus out once, when they were younger. Rhett swatted at him, and Apollo went nuts. He has hated Rhett ever since. He will lunge at Baby, but he doesn't seem as focused on her than he is Rhett.

Apollo and Zeus are very well trained. I do NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free) along with a Pack mentality.

I have a few questions. Is there any credibility to the towel method where you exchange scents? What about the method where you put the cat in the crate and work the dog up to it until he can calmly lay next to the crate.

Just curious.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-26-2008, 10:54 PM
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Re: Cats and Dogs living cohesively.

Is there any credibility to the towel method where you exchange scents?
When introducing one cat to another, yes. When introducing a dog who doesn't like cats to the cats...possbile, but in my opinion it might just get him more worked up.

What about the method where you put the cat in the crate and work the dog up to it until he can calmly lay next to the crate.
You could try that...but if the cat would be stressed out in the kennel, or with the dog moving towards it without the cat being able to hide/run away then i would say no. If your cat will feel comfortable in the kennel, and won't be distressed by the dog moving closer i'd think you would be fine.

Pinch collars are not dangerous if used properly.
This isn't always true. Dogs who are likely to stop paying attention completely (any dog under the right circumstances) can be hurt quite badly when using a pinch collar. if you know how to use it correctly the chance of that goes down, usually because if you know how to use the collar then you've been active;y training your dog. That helps.

However, unless you have actually been shown, physically, by a trained instructor then you can't be sure you are using the collar correctly. and you might not be aware of all the safety factors.

I'm not trying to be rude, honestly. I've just seen them used incorrectly so many times that it makes me skeptical and nervous all at once.
It likely does help that you've made an effort to learn about the breed. If that's interesting to you then maybe see if you can find a trainer who is used to handling german shepherds and can help you in your home with these specific animals. You could also check with the other members on your forum, if you haven't already, for ideas.

Personally I would never use a pinch collar. I think they are unnecessary and much to risky. In my opinion there is always another option, and they have always worked much better for me.

That being said I have met dogs who benefited from the responsible use of a pinch collar, but they were are saint bernard/leonburger type dogs. Huge, hairy puppies with tons of energy. I have also seen scars on dogs who's owners thought they would work, and then one day they didn't. I'm just saying be very careful.

Sorry if I'm coming off strong, it's just an issue that means a lot to me. Like i said, I've seen scars....
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