Considering A Dog, Interested In Best Practices For Successfully Introducing Her To Catses

linkworshiper

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We are moving into a dog friendly apartment and there is a dog at the shelter where I work that I’m particularly bonded to. My girlfriend met the dog today and it went really well, but if we go through with it, its contingent on whether she likes our cats. The dog, that is. I was interested in any helpful hints that would make the transition as positive as possible. My main concern is that the dog won’t know what to do with the cats. I have no idea if she has ever met a cat. She is an older doggie so it’s possible, but she’s also been at the shelter a long time. I have taken the dog to the vet for the shelter and her behavior was good. She doesn’t like other dogs but I think that might be shelter stress. Generally, she’s a calm, quiet dog. She seems to be some mix of a German shepherd and maybe a shiba inu? She looks like Doge.

One of my cats has lived with dogs before and another is pretty easy going. Not so worried about them. The third one might be tricky. He is a bit of a dog stuck in a cat body, very alpha. Loves his food. He hisses at dogs at the vet but it’s also the vet, which he hates.

Anyway, would love any advice.
 

emelyssa

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Keep them separated and let them get used to each other's smells for a few days. Then, you can start introducing VERY slowly. When I brought Drexl into my house, every day I would ask him, "Would you like to greet the doggy?" Then I would crack open the door slightly so that he and my dog Sansa could see and smell each other. Drexl hissed at Sansa every day for a few weeks, though he was always excited to "greet the doggy." As he became more curious, I would open the door fully and allow them to meet- which often resulted in hisses, but Drexl was always willing to give it another go the next day. I have the most cat-sympathetic dog in the world. She was very patient and would lay down while Drexl smelled her. Now, they are best friends. Drexl follows Sansa around and wants her attention all the time. The process took about three weeks. When people rush things, their cats mayy are friends "tolerate" their dogs, but if you take your time, they can become great friends. I would still recommend keeping your dog separate when you are not home even when they are friends, because misunderstandings can happen between pets and it's best to be safe.
 

Maria Bayote

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Yes, I agree with the slow introductions, and when they finally come together in one room, should be supervised for the time being, until you know all is safe.

It will work out fine. Just give them time to be familiar with each other.

Thank you for adopting the dog. I love dogs too. I have 4 of my own :)
 

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She's probably on the mid-large, and pretty powerful, given her breeds. I'd suggest a soft muzzle for the first few meetings, just to make sure nothing terrible happens that can't be fixed. NOT expecting it, but it doesn't hurt to remember that the Sheba Inu is a hunting dog, with a considerable prey drive. Let's not take chances.
 
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linkworshiper

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She's probably on the mid-large, and pretty powerful, given her breeds. I'd suggest a soft muzzle for the first few meetings, just to make sure nothing terrible happens that can't be fixed. NOT expecting it, but it doesn't hurt to remember that the Sheba Inu is a hunting dog, with a considerable prey drive. Let's not take chances.
Not a bad idea. She doesn't walk with a muzzle at the shelter but she is pretty strong. Weighs about 80 lbs. I love big dogs and have always wanted one.

Thanks to everyone for the advice. The shelter has offered to do a foster to adopt situation but I might ask for a longer foster period to make sure it goes well.
 

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If you can, ask the shelter if she has be around cats there or elsewhere and how she reacted.

I know it doesn't work for everyone but I used a treat based training with my dogs to get them adjusted to the cats when we got them. Just took dog biscuits and broke them into bits then started doing positive reinforcements with the treats at any activity that involved the cats (kittens back then). Took about a week to teach the dogs to ignore the cats instead of chasing them. Even have a video clip of one of the dogs ignoring one of the kittens playing with his tail and my rewarding his action with a nibble of dog biscuit.

Shade playing with Neo's tail
 
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linkworshiper

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If you can, ask the shelter if she has be around cats there or elsewhere and how she reacted.

I know it doesn't work for everyone but I used a treat based training with my dogs to get them adjusted to the cats when we got them. Just took dog biscuits and broke them into bits then started doing positive reinforcements with the treats at any activity that involved the cats (kittens back then). Took about a week to teach the dogs to ignore the cats instead of chasing them. Even have a video clip of one of the dogs ignoring one of the kittens playing with his tail and my rewarding his action with a nibble of dog biscuit.

Shade playing with Neo's tail
I've tried that and no one is sure. We know the dog has a bad habit of eating stuffies, so part of me is like... Will she think a cat is a stuffy? At the same time, we have a fabulous dog trainer who might have some good tips for this dog in particular. She's really a good girl. My partner was saying if we didn't have cats, she'd already be home with us.

Our cats are super treat motivated so that might be a good angle. Our fat alpha cat-dog is definitely swayed with anything edible.
 

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If she is older that might work in your favor. I'd definitely see if the shelter would safely cat test her first. Shiba and GSD both have prey drive but not all dogs exhibit it so she might be fine.
If you do bring her home make sure the cats have a place they can get to that the dog can't.
My own dog will ignore other dogs and pretend they don't exist but show him a cat and he explodes with happiness 😂. I have known several dogs that don't care for other dogs but strongly prefer cats.
I'd definitely proceed with optimistic caution. Do you know why she is at the shelter?
 

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My experience with GSDs, of which I have had several, is that they are highly motivated to please the owner. Yes, it takes training as has been suggested, but it is very workable. If you have a trainer available, I would definitely give this a try. Doge looks, to me, like a Shiba Inu. Spitz breeds can be somewhat more interested in giving chase and the like, but I still don't see it as something that could not be worked with. Oddly, pomeranians are one of the smallest of the spitz dogs and they are listed, in the article, as a very safe choice.

You seem to have everything in place that would make this potentially work.

Ask if she is cat tested. Many shelters and rescues do not, for obvious reasons, but a previous owner might have given some information or there may be some other anecdotal account of her walking by a cat and not reacting, or reacting only mildly.
 
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linkworshiper

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I kind of feel the same about the dog being older. Our cats are also older, though the oldest has lived with rowdy dogs before. He also is kind of indifferent to everything anyway. Also, according to the shelter, she usually has stranger-danger, but she did not exhibit this with me or my partner when she was introduced to the dog for the first time. I finally managed to find someone who looked up the dog's history at the shelter and that she's apparently been aggressive towards both dogs and cats in the past (the dogs we obviously knew about.) Honestly, I think a lot of her behavior is shelter-related. She has been there for almost ten months.

The coordinator at the shelter did tell me he was putting together a training program for all the dogs we have and that introducing a soft muzzle and doing some introductions for the dog could be a part of it. I told him I would literally do anything he needed to help her along. This is the part that's hard about this job; you really do get attached to certain animals. I like many of our dogs, but this is the one that I feel like I have a bond with.

My plan based on all the great advice I've gotten so far is to start the dog off in the bedroom with the door closed. That way she can have her space and still be with us at night while the cats have the rest of the apartment. Eventually I'd like to try some of the methods in the article above, such as the blanket over the doggie gate. We do something like that to introduce cats to each other at the shelter so it makes a lot of sense. I was also thinking that crating her towards the beginning would be a good plan. Hopefully whatever they work out at the shelter can involve some basic commands. I've seen her sit and wait before, though what usually gets her riled up is seeing other dogs. Truthfully, I think it's the barking that gets her. If anyone has any good suggestions I can tell our dog coordinator to maybe specifically help this doggo get her best life, I'm all ears.
 

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If it were me, I would definitely take the shelter up on the foster-to-adopt thing so you're not locked in if you and the dog (and the cats) all end up miserable. It would be the safest bet, as well as getting her into a home situation. I would give it at least 2 weeks (unless you see serious issues) for her to settle in and be herself.
If you have a trainer you like, use them! Have you contacted them letting them know you're considering this dog? If possible, do you think the trainer would be willing to meet you at the shelter to assess the dog? I think if it's just general "hey, it's fun to chase the cat because they run" that can easily be worked with. But if it's serious prey drive with intent to do serious harm or worse, IMO you'll never ever be able to train that out of them, period.
I still would ask if the shelter is able to safely cat test. Maybe a very laid back cat, safely confined while the dog is on a leash and can see the cat but not get close to the cat nor do any harm. See what her reaction is.
Some customers of ours worked with a Greyhound rescue. This rescue is outstanding at cat testing their dogs. They adopted a dog that was cat safe as they had a few cats at home. This dog was so awesome. If they went for a walk, any cat in the neighborhood was drawn to this dog. She said they'd be walking along with this leashed Greyhound with this trail of cats following them. They'd surround the dog and he'd just nuzzle them one by one. I'm not sure how they cat test but they did a really good job of it. Again, I'd ask the shelter to do this, or let you do this before you bring her home....just to keep everyone safe!

Edit: You said the shelter said she'd shown aggression to dogs and cats before. I'm not sure if you even have this information, but was this AT the shelter, or did the previous owners mark this down on her surrender sheet? My Mom had four (small) dogs that lived with 7 cats at one time, but they would still charge and chase a cat out of her yard. Never hurt one, but some people might have thought that was "Aggression" and marked it down as such. There's so much unknown with a dog with a spotty history and it's hard to really be able to iron out what happened!
 
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linkworshiper

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If it were me, I would definitely take the shelter up on the foster-to-adopt thing so you're not locked in if you and the dog (and the cats) all end up miserable. It would be the safest bet, as well as getting her into a home situation. I would give it at least 2 weeks (unless you see serious issues) for her to settle in and be herself.
If you have a trainer you like, use them! Have you contacted them letting them know you're considering this dog? If possible, do you think the trainer would be willing to meet you at the shelter to assess the dog? I think if it's just general "hey, it's fun to chase the cat because they run" that can easily be worked with. But if it's serious prey drive with intent to do serious harm or worse, IMO you'll never ever be able to train that out of them, period.
I still would ask if the shelter is able to safely cat test. Maybe a very laid back cat, safely confined while the dog is on a leash and can see the cat but not get close to the cat nor do any harm. See what her reaction is.
Some customers of ours worked with a Greyhound rescue. This rescue is outstanding at cat testing their dogs. They adopted a dog that was cat safe as they had a few cats at home. This dog was so awesome. If they went for a walk, any cat in the neighborhood was drawn to this dog. She said they'd be walking along with this leashed Greyhound with this trail of cats following them. They'd surround the dog and he'd just nuzzle them one by one. I'm not sure how they cat test but they did a really good job of it. Again, I'd ask the shelter to do this, or let you do this before you bring her home....just to keep everyone safe!

Edit: You said the shelter said she'd shown aggression to dogs and cats before. I'm not sure if you even have this information, but was this AT the shelter, or did the previous owners mark this down on her surrender sheet? My Mom had four (small) dogs that lived with 7 cats at one time, but they would still charge and chase a cat out of her yard. Never hurt one, but some people might have thought that was "Aggression" and marked it down as such. There's so much unknown with a dog with a spotty history and it's hard to really be able to iron out what happened!
The foster-to-adopt is definitely key. I was thinking two to three weeks would be the minimum, but the current situation seems to be that there will have to be some work done at the shelter first. The trainer I meant already works at the shelter, though I don't know that she is aware I was interested in the dog. I was trying to keep it hush-hush around the job so it wouldn't backfire on me lol. I watched this lady get a stressed and snarly dog to eat treats out of her hand, so if anyone would have a clue, I have faith in her. I think I will ask the next time I see her.

I hope what the dog coordinator meant was doing some safe cat interactions at the shelter. I want to believe that it would just take patience and getting comfortable on all sides, but safety is obviously the most important! Everyone at the shelter wants the dog to find a home so part of me hopes they'd be willing to make every effort to make it work. Fingers crossed.
 

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Getting a stressed and snarly dog to take food out of your hand is no easy task. I've done it, but I've had plenty of times where the dog was not going there. She sounds like a great person to have your back on this!
I'd definitely ask her. Just tell her you're thinking about trying her out at home, and what are her thoughts?
Long before our business got going we boarded dogs in the house. We kept everything from Dachshunds to Yorkies to Jack Russells to Spitz dogs to Border Collies. We didn't do rigorous screening, but we did keep separation while not supervising rules in place, and with herding dogs, terriers, and spitzes running around we never had a single problem. The worst I ever had happen was an adorable Miniature Poodle who refused to walk past the cats and I didn't know why, until she nervously wagged that pom pom tail and my male cat (then about 2 years old) launched after that awesome toy attached to the visiting dog! Luckily that little Poodle was a very nice, tolerant girl and didn't know why the cats wanted to play with her butt :lol:
 
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linkworshiper

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Getting a stressed and snarly dog to take food out of your hand is no easy task. I've done it, but I've had plenty of times where the dog was not going there. She sounds like a great person to have your back on this!
I'd definitely ask her. Just tell her you're thinking about trying her out at home, and what are her thoughts?
Long before our business got going we boarded dogs in the house. We kept everything from Dachshunds to Yorkies to Jack Russells to Spitz dogs to Border Collies. We didn't do rigorous screening, but we did keep separation while not supervising rules in place, and with herding dogs, terriers, and spitzes running around we never had a single problem. The worst I ever had happen was an adorable Miniature Poodle who refused to walk past the cats and I didn't know why, until she nervously wagged that pom pom tail and my male cat (then about 2 years old) launched after that awesome toy attached to the visiting dog! Luckily that little Poodle was a very nice, tolerant girl and didn't know why the cats wanted to play with her butt :lol:
I have been spending extra time with the dog while at work. I get sad when I think about not having her around!

In any case, I also found out what her "issue" is. She is very protective of her home and is very barky around strangers. I've walked her and seen her get stressed out by other dogs outside, but I really think muzzle training will help on that score. Honestly, I'd like to at least say I tried. I really think getting her out of the shelter where she's surrounded by a bunch of other loud and barky dogs will help as well.
 

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I have been spending extra time with the dog while at work. I get sad when I think about not having her around!

In any case, I also found out what her "issue" is. She is very protective of her home and is very barky around strangers. I've walked her and seen her get stressed out by other dogs outside, but I really think muzzle training will help on that score. Honestly, I'd like to at least say I tried. I really think getting her out of the shelter where she's surrounded by a bunch of other loud and barky dogs will help as well.
I watched an interesting documentary about a womens prison, and I don't remember where it was located. But they were talking about the sleep patterns there. One lady interviewed said anytime she was almost asleep, someone would start yelling and wake her up. She said it was literally driving her insane because she got no decent sleep, ever. Sometimes I wonder if that's how dogs in shelters feel, they don't really get to stretch out and sleep deeply like they would in a house because another dog usually starts barking about something. If the other dogs really rile her up, getting her away from that mind bring her overall reactivity way down after a few weeks. It's possible too that the previous owners didn't know how to handle the protection and barkiness, maybe they thought she was being aggressive and punished her or unknowingly rewarded her for it. (I was on a trail once when some lady with a really big dog lunged at me (he was leashed thank God!) and was really barking aggressively. I hurried away and when I glanced over my shoulder, the dog was standing there, hackles up, and staring at me while growling. The lady was on her knees, hugging the dog and saying "It's okaaaaaaay baby it's okaaaaaaaaaaaay". Perfect way to teach the dog to be reactive and aggressive IMO. So maybe this is how this started.)
So.....when do you bring her home? :)
 
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linkworshiper

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I watched an interesting documentary about a womens prison, and I don't remember where it was located. But they were talking about the sleep patterns there. One lady interviewed said anytime she was almost asleep, someone would start yelling and wake her up. She said it was literally driving her insane because she got no decent sleep, ever. Sometimes I wonder if that's how dogs in shelters feel, they don't really get to stretch out and sleep deeply like they would in a house because another dog usually starts barking about something. If the other dogs really rile her up, getting her away from that mind bring her overall reactivity way down after a few weeks. It's possible too that the previous owners didn't know how to handle the protection and barkiness, maybe they thought she was being aggressive and punished her or unknowingly rewarded her for it. (I was on a trail once when some lady with a really big dog lunged at me (he was leashed thank God!) and was really barking aggressively. I hurried away and when I glanced over my shoulder, the dog was standing there, hackles up, and staring at me while growling. The lady was on her knees, hugging the dog and saying "It's okaaaaaaay baby it's okaaaaaaaaaaaay". Perfect way to teach the dog to be reactive and aggressive IMO. So maybe this is how this started.)
So.....when do you bring her home? :)
I appreciate everyone's input on this. Unfortunately, the dog I was interested in has too much of a prey drive to live with cats. I really made every effort to make sure we examined every angle, but at the end of the day, the dog probably wouldn't do well with cats. It's too bad because she's a good dog and has a bond with me, but it seems she'll have to go yet another month waiting for her furrever home. (Ten months in a shelter is way too long. I read that two weeks is the maximum an animal can really function normally at a shelter.)

Anyway, I'm still looking to find a dog that will work for us. All of your help on this thread will be useful when I find one that will get along with my three little maniacs.
 

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I'm sad that this turned out the way it did. But I think it's better for everyone---you, the cats, and the dog as well, to accept that it's not a good situation. The cats would be stressed, you'd be pulling your hair out with stress, and the dog would more than likely be frustrated beyond all belief. I think you're doing her a service so she can find a home she's TRULY relaxed and happy in.
Luckily, while she's at the shelter she has an extra special care taker she's bonded to that will make her stay much happier. :)
Are you looking to adopt an adult?
 

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