Do german shepherds get along with cats? This is the question you might be asking yourself if you’re planning on introducing a german shepherd to your home but cats are already there. Or perhaps it’s the other way round. You might have a german shepherd, and now you’re wondering whether it’s alright to get a cat.
Keep reading to find out whether german shepherds get along with cats or not.
Do German Shepherds Get Along With Cats?
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for german shepherds to chase cats, and in some cases, they may even act aggressively.
But with proper training, a lot of german shepherds can learn how to act appropriately around a cat.
However, this isn’t the case with every german shepherd. Due to certain temperaments, some german shepherds will never be able to live with cats.
What Are The Reasons A German Shepherd Might Not Get Along With A Cat?
In most cases, when a german shepherd doesn’t get along with a cat, it’s not because they don’t like them.
Here are some of the common reasons your german shepherd doesn’t get along with cats (or it might seem like they don’t get along with cats).
They’re Instinct To Chase
When dogs see an animal running, a lot of them have an instinct to chase. And obviously, when a cat sees your german shepherd, they’re going to start running.
This, of course, sets of a chain reaction where your german shepherd will end up chasing them away.
Remember, though, this isn’t your german shepherd’s fault, it’s just built in to act this way. Your job is to train them to ignore the instinct.
They Want To Herd
German shepherds (as their name suggests) are herding dogs. They feel the need to make sure that everything is in line, especially if you haven’t trained them to act differently.
So your german shepherd may end up trying to herd your cat, nipping at them to bring them into order. The only problem is, there’s a big difference between a german shepherd nipping at a sheeps ankle and nipping at a cat.
They Might Have Had A Bad Experience
In some cases, german shepherds might not get along with cats because they’ve had a bad experience in the past with them.
If they were hurt or scared by one as a puppy or when they were very young, they may end up being aggressive so it doesn’t happen again.
This can be harder to fix, but with the help of the right trainer or training program, you can still normally have a lot of success.
Training Your German Shepherd To Get Along With Cats?
Fortunately, there are ways you can train german shepherds to get along with cats. But before you start training your german shepherd to get along it’s important to realize that in a lot of cases, it might be the cat that doesn’t want to get along with your german shepherd. Here’s why…
Why Do Cats Not Get Along With German Shepherds?
Imagine the average cat personality compared to a dog. Generally, cats are a lot more grumpy and have a lot less time for things that annoy them.
On the other hand, german shepherds and other dogs are normally friendly. In fact, they’re always happy to see new people and new things.
And they can get extremely overexcited when this happens.
So when you think about it like this, it’s no wonder cats are going to not like german shepherds.
When your german shepherd gets excited to see the cat, the cat is going to get annoyed at the amount of energy.
When you’re teaching your german shepherd how to act around the cat, it’s important to take into account the way the cat is acting as well.
(Is your german shepherd barking? Find out what it means and what to do!)
How To Introduce The Two To Each Other
One of the worst things you can do is just leave them both to it and hope they work things out. With such a big dog meeting a cat, a lot of things can go wrong very quickly. Instead, you’ll need to introduce them properly.
Introducing Your German Shepherd To The Cat
If you’re getting an adult german shepherd from the shelter ask them if your german shepherd was good with cats. In a lot of cases, they’ll be able to give you an answer. If you find out that they’ve lived with a cat before then you have nothing to worry about.
However, if you’re not sure whether a german shepherd will get along with a cat or not, then you’ll need to introduce them. Here are a few different ways to ease the process.
Hold Your Cat
When they first meet it can be a good idea to hold your cat so your german shepherd won’t run at them. You may think about keeping your german shepherd on a lead but if you try and pull them away, then it could result in leash reactivity. (If you notice your german shepherd pulling on a leash then here’s how to fix it.)
Train Your German Shepherd Beforehand
There are a few basic commands your german shepherd should know, such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and no’. And when you’re introducing them to your cat, they’re going to come in handy.
Once they listen to your commands effectively you can begin telling them to stay when they see a cat, and ‘no’ if they get too boisterous.
If you haven’t trained your german shepherd, then it’s something you should think about doing pronto. I’d highly recommend buying Brain Training For Dogs, which will teach you how to help your german shepherd become perfectly behaved!
And if you’re getting a puppy, then, fortunately, you’re going to be able to train good behaviors into them. (A puppy will pick up and remember things much more when they’re 3 months or younger.)
(Read an in-depth review of Brain Training For Dogs.)
Keep Your German Shepherd On A Leash
It can also be a good idea to keep your german shepherd on a leash. If you’re not sure how they’re going to react, keeping them on a leash is the best way to maintain control over them.
If they’re already fully grown make sure you’re strong enough to control them, but if not, get someone who can. (And remember, if you can’t control them properly on their leash then they NEED to be trained. For your safety and theirs.)
You may need to keep your german shepherd on a leash for a couple of weeks before they won’t pester your cat. You should only take them off the leash when you’re sure they won’t chase your cat if they start running.
Keep The Cat Somewhere Safe (At First)
Sometimes it’s better to keep a cat in one room for a couple of weeks before introducing the two to each other. This way they’re going to hear each other and get used to each other’s smell. They’ll know there’s another animal in the house and get used to the idea.
To do this, you need to make sure that your cat has food, water, and a litter box wherever you keep them.
And of course, if your cat likes to go outside make sure you give him plenty of opportunities to do so.
If you don’t want to keep your cat in one room, you can also section off some of your house for them, using a baby gate if necessary.
Doing all of this can be an effective way to introduce them to each other and make sure they’re getting along well.
How To Train A German Shepherd To Get Along With Cats
Now you know training your german shepherd to get along with cats CAN be done. While there are always going to be some german shepherds that will always chase cats and some cats that will never like german shepherds, in most cases, this won’t be the case.
There is one thing to remember before starting.
Be Patient – If you want to have any success when you do this, it’s important that you take your time. The chances are they’re going to be figuring each other out for a few weeks, so don’t expect them to be close right away.
In fact, it’s not uncommon for this process to take months. It was almost a full year before my dog started to get along with my cat.
And of course, make sure you’re paying attention to both of them when they are together.
Here are the different ways you can train your german shepherd to get along with cats.
If you’ve been keeping them separate from each other, then at some point they’re going to have to make contact. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you have to introduce them to each other straight away.
A great first step is to let them stand on either side of a door to each other. When they notice the presence of each other give them both a treat. However, make sure you’re not rewarding your dog for negative behavior. If your german starts barking, growling, etc, then avoid rewarding them.
Likewise, when your cat first notices your german shepherd you can try to give them some catnip as positive reinforcement.
What To Do If That Doesn’t Work
If even them being on either side of each other doesn’t work, then there is an even smaller step you can take.
Get two towels or blankets and rub one on your german shepherd and the other on your cat. Then, place the towels with the other animal. This way they’ll begin to get used to each other’s scent, and more used to each other.
Do this for a couple of weeks before trying to introduce the two together again.
Let Them Meet
Now that they’ve been made aware of each other presence during the last couple of weeks, the next step is to finally introduce them to each other face to face.
At this point, you need to make sure they’re still unable to get to each other. If possible keep your cat in a crate and your german shepherd on their leash.
Start by entering the room with them and keeping them as far away as possible. Leave them at this distance, and remember to keep your pup calm (after all, it’s probably going to be them making the commotion.)
Once they’re able to stay a good distance from each other stay there for a bit and then remove them from each others company again.
The next day, try again, this time bringing them a little bit closer. Keep doing this every day, until they’re ready to make contact with each other.
If at any point during this process you notice any negative behavior (or unwanted positive behavior), then remove your german shepherd from the room and try again the next day. Make sure the distance between them is bigger the second time.
When your German shepherd is being patient feel free to reward them.
Some negative behavior you may notice from your cat includes hissing, moaning, and trying to get out of the crate.
The last step is to introduce them to each other in a more open setting. This time, instead of keeping your cat in a crate, keep your german shepherd in a crate, playpen, or behind a baby gate.
And remember, it’s important you only try this step when they’re not showing any negative behavior during the step above.
When you introduce them, bring your cat in the room with your german shepherd. Make sure the german shepherd can’t get out of their crate and that there are plenty of high places for your cat to perch on.
They feel safer naturally when they’re high because they know they can’t be reached.
Once this happens you can just leave them and let your cat decide when they want to meet the dog. Eventually, they should begin sniffing around the playpen and getting closer.
At first do this for a short amount of time, before gradually ramping the time up. And finally, let your german shepherd out of their crate.
Remember, this step can take a lot of time. So be patient, and eventually, they should begin to get along.
Other Helpful Tips
While the method above is great for introducing your german shepherd to cats, there are some other helpful things you can do to ease the transition.
Here are a few of them.
Don’t Encourage Chasing
One thing is to avoid encouraging your german shepherd to chase. If you notice them chasing any wild animals tell them ‘no’ or shake a can of stones to get their attention.
By teaching them that they can’t chase any animals, they’re going to be less likely to end up chasing your cat.
This works particularly well with puppies. And if you notice that they have a particularly strong drive to chase, use toys instead.
Start With A Puppy
You’re going to have a much easier time teaching a puppy how to react over an adult german shepherd. The first three months of their lives are when they’re behavior is more malleable.
If you can teach them early on how to behave around cats, then it’s much more likely the behavior is going to stick.
Find Out Their Temperament
If you’re adopting a german shepherd, then you should try and find out their temperament. In a lot of cases, the adoption shelter you get them from will be able to tell you if they’ve previously been housed with cats.
Normally, if they have, you won’t have a problem housing them with your cat either. At this point, you’ll only have to worry about your cat’s reaction.
Give Them Plenty Of Exercise
German shepherds need A LOT of exercise. If they’re bothering your cat, and you’re not giving them at least an hour of vigorous exercise a day, then this could be making matters worse.
If you can’t get them out every day, then you still need to make sure that you’re at least taking them for a walk on the leash or playing with them for a good amount of time.
Consider Spaying Or Neutering Them
As well as the health benefits associated with spaying and neutering your german shepherd, the operation can also reduce the chance of dominant behavior in them as well!
Without the need to express dominant behavior, then the chances are they’ll be less likely to chase, bother or try to herd your cat.
What Should You Avoid Doing?
When you’re trying to introduce your german shepherd and cat together, here are some of the practices that are best avoided.
Don’t Lock Them In A Room Together
One of the worst things you can do is lock them in a room together and hope they work it out. Doing this will cause massive amounts of stress for both pets. And in a lot of cases, your cat will attack your german shepherd and scare them.
Never Hit Your German Shepherd
Dogs don’t respond well to negative reinforcement, especially physical attacks. If you ever hit or hurt your german shepherd then you’re only going to teach them to mistrust you.
Instead of punishing them with violence, you should be using positive reinforcement to reward good behavior.
Avoid Shock/Spray Collars
Shock and spray collars aren’t as effective as they were once thought to be. If you shock your german shepherd every time they approach your cat, then they may end up getting the wrong idea.
They could even end up seeing the cat as the source of their pain.
As you can see, if you follow the right methods, german shepherds and cats can often get along fine!
Here are some of the main points to remember from the article.
- If your german shepherd isn’t getting along with your cat, it might be because of their instinct to chase, because they want to herd, and they might have had a bad experience in the past.
- When introducing the two together start extremely slowly and build your way up.
- Make sure you’re not encouraging your german shepherd to chase any animal, remember it’s easier to train a puppy, and if you have a rescue german shepherd then find out if they’ve lived with cats before. Also, give them plenty of exercise, and consider spaying or neutering them.
- Make sure you never lock them in a room together, hit your german shepherd or use a spray/shock collar.
If you liked this article check out the rest of the website, otherwise have a great day!