Acclimating cats to dogs. Looking for tips

gypsy cola

Arachnoknight
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Jan 16, 2014
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So my girlfriend is looking into taking her family dog into our apartment. He is a pretty big Lab X German Shepherd. Now the problem with this dog is that he is pretty wild.

He has been trained but, he spends his entire life chained up in a backyard with little to none interaction so he is far from obedient. We are going to bring him into our little 2 bedroom apartment. This won't be immediate as we need to take him to classes first. The problem is with our cats. We tried to introduce them him and it failed pretty badly. We kept the cat in a cat carrier and the dog got the cage and shook the carrier. The cat is fine but we aren't doing that again.

So my question is, what do we do to get this dog and our cats playing nicely? The dog is still at her parents and we won't take him in until we can get them to "play" nicely. I am not worried about costs. Just help on where to start.

Thanks!
 

The Snark

Dumpster Fire of the Gods
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I was talking to a pro dog trainer only a couple of days ago. She reiterated the fact of life about training dogs. Contact hours and generous helpings of patience. The older and more set in it's ways a dog is, the longer it is going to take. With a dog like you described it may very well turn into a rest of it's life endeavor. There is no silver bullet. Nothing that will replace hours and hours of effort. Thus the reason there are professional trainers. A lot of people cannot take the time to do it right.
As for the cat, they all have personalities.that are pretty much set in stone. Unreceptive anti canine personality and it's going to be a permanent animosity situation.
 

boina

Lady of the mites
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The situation you describe is bretty bad. A dog that has spent most of his life in a chained with little contact is simply missing all the necessary social abilities. I've spent 5 years as a professional dog trainer earning money for university and I've a masters degree in animal behavior and I can only say this looks pretty bleak to me.

I've tried to explain the things I'd do in a post but I deleted it because it's just too complex. This is not a thing you can explain in writing. The problem is that there are a lot of mediocre dog trainers out there that have a set of things they do and recommend without really understanding dog behaviour and without adapting it to the specific dog in question - I've seen too many of them. Still I think a professional trainer is your only choice. I've taken in an neglected and abandoned dog once and it took me over a year to rectify the worst problems that were based on the fact that went nuts whenever I left her alone because she was so scared I'd abandon her again. And she was young, when I got her, only a year old (German Shepherd mix, too).

Spend as much time as you can with him in REGULAR intervals so he learns he can rely on you, walk with him, and so on. The trick to training a dog is reacting Immediately to everything he does, and react fast and decisive. He does something bad? - A harsh loud, NO, or something like that. The very second he turns his attention to you: Good Dog! Then he will turn away and continue the bad behavior and you'll IMMEDIATELY switch: NO, BAD DOG. Be loud and harsh, but the very second he stops: GOOD DOG, loving and happy. If you can make this switch from NO to GOOD at the right moment, and make it clear in your tone, and if necessary 20 times within one minute, you can win this. Reaction has to follow action immediately, not 30 seconds later, and it has to be clear. The dog will know it if you are hesitant or unsure of yourself and he will not believe you. Oh, and dog language is body language: Standing upright, tense body, shoulders back: I'm angry with yoo. Hanging shoulders, loose muscles: I like you, I want to socialize with you. If you can change your body language with your voice it's even better. Did you ever consider acting lessons? Those would come in handy ;). It actually works. I've trained dozens of "difficult" and "unmanagable" and "aggressive" dogs, usually within a few days, and I'm a small woman :p.

Btw. I don't think cats are set in their behavior. You can teach even an unwilling cat to ignore a dog and live with it - I've done it :) But that cat has had a trauma and will possibly feel she needs to fight for her life when she sees the dog again.

Best of luck.
 

The Snark

Dumpster Fire of the Gods
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Reaction has to follow action immediately, not 30 seconds later, and it has to be clear.
You can repeat that a few hundred times. With an attention span of, often, less than a second in the average canine, the reward must be associated with the action instantly. The worst mistake the average person makes is punishing or rewarding after the fact. The animal has no clue.

On a similar note, my sis, a horse gentler or 'whisperer' explains and even capably demonstrates a very real aspect. Animals read your heart. Don't even think about going into that corral or putting on a leash if mutual respect and a cool calm heart aren't running your show.
 

MetalMan2004

Arachnodemon
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Oct 14, 2016
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Do the cats have claws? If so they'll teach the dog to leave them alone no problem...
 

The Snark

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Do the cats have claws? If so they'll teach the dog to leave them alone no problem...
Generally speaking, that is what you want to avoid, overcome: Raw primal responses. Getting the animals to interact socially is at the other end of the spectrum.
 

Belegnole

Tarantula Guy
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Nov 30, 2005
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Based on you description of the situation I would advise against bringing that dog into your home. While the dog may be saved from a training perspective the disruption to your household would not be worth it over the short term. The short term in this case being a year in my mind. I love both dogs and cats but they do not always belong together. Especially in a apartment.

Just my opinion....
 

Hellblazer

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May 13, 2016
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My 10 year old dog barely tolerates my 1 year old dog. I can't imagine trying to train him to not hurt a cat. He grabbed one in the yard one day (I got him to drop it quickly & it got away ok) and got us in trouble with my wife.
 
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