Can a dorberman and a cat live together in peace?

Posted by vidamorim
Oct 1, 2009
I have a Doberman pincher, Dexter (1 1/2 years old), a poodle toy, Rocky (5 years old) and a cat, Maggie (1 year and 3 months old). When I found Maggie, she was 2 months old and Dexter 6 months old. I did everything the trainer where I bought Dexter told me to do, to make Dexter, Rocky and Maggie live together. It works with Rocky and Maggie, they play and love each other. However, Dexter and Maggie don't like each other until today. Usually, Maggie hurt Dexter face and I afraid that Dexter can kill Maggie if I not present. I have to keep Maggie in the garage and the dogs stay with me in the house. In the beginning I put everybody in each cage for 1 hour, after that I increase the hours until everybody come down. After that, just Maggie in the cage and Dexter out, but I was there to watch and make corrections, give him discipline and limitations. I take Dexter every day for walk or take him to the dog park to get enough exercise and have fun. He always come back home tired , I feed him an take to the garage to try Dexter get along with Maggie. The same scene happen in the end Dexter gets hurt and Maggie almost get kill. The unique time that they were close was when Maggie was getting in heat an she let him do to her whatever he wanted, buy now that I spayed her is different. What should I do?
Posted by KOPsarah
Oct 1, 2009
Hi and thanks for your post. Below is some information on cats and dogs that I hope you will find useful.

Prey Drive
Cats chase mice. Dogs chase cats. It’s the law of nature isn’t it? Yet some dogs ignore cats, some adore them, some keep a respectful distance – and yes, some chase them on sight. The average cat can defend itself against the average dog but certain breeds can be a real threat to a cat’s life and limb because they have a strong ‘Prey Drive’. Most dogs will give enthusiastic chase to a running cat, but won’t go to extreme lengths; a prey-driven dog will sprint all-out and will maim or kill the cat if he catches it. This is probably the reason one of your dogs is fine with the cat while the other is not.

In short, a strongly prey-driven dog is a danger to any cat within reach.

Breeds such as Weimaraners, Terriers, most herding breeds (particularly Australian Cattle Dogs and Border Collies), Pit bulls, and Akitas pose the greatest danger to cats because their prey drive goes above and beyond the normal canine instinct to chase.

There are two ways to diminish the prey drive. The first is to redirect their prey drive to chasing items such as balls and frisbies. Not only is this excellent exercise but it is a much needed outlet for prey drive which is necessary, as complete suppression of prey drive can lead to frustration and behavioral problems. The second way to diminish your dogs prey response to your cat is to show that dog that the cat is part of its pack and is even a more dominant member than it. You can do this using the following techniques:
-always feed your cat first, if possible make your dog sit and wait while you put the cats food down and then once the cat is well into its meal feed the dog.
-when you arrive home always greet the cat first
-allow the cat access to favored places such as beds and couches but do not let the dog
Reducing prey drive in these ways should reduce the incidence and severity of chasing attempts.

[B]Lots of Short Safe Meetings[/B]
regular safe introductions will help you cat and dog become used to each others presence. Wait until your cat seems comfortable before you introduce the two of them. Make sure your cat can easily escape if needed - the outdoors is not a recommended meeting place as your cat might run onto the street if frightened. Have your dog on a head collar and leash and have treats in your pocket. Slowly enter the room where your cat is and stand near the doorway.

Give them plenty of time to get used to each other. Never try to force them to get along.

If your dog shows fear or overexcitement, don’t console or reprimand him – it will reward his behavior. Instead, ignore the behavior, with your dog safe on its headcollar and leash he will not be able to attack or chase your cat so you can safely ignore him till he is calm. As soon as your dog is calm praise him gently and give him a little treat, that way he will see that ignoring the cat is rewarding. Do your best to make sure each meeting ends on a good note by finishing while your dog is calm. Do not rush the process. You should soon be able to take your dog into the area where your cat is without him getting immediately excited. Always treat this calm behavior. If you think you can now hold your dogs attention despite the cat, run through some commands with him treating and praising for correct behavior. This will also reinforce the fact that cat=boring and listening to you and being calm = treats and praise and fun.

Stopping Your Dog in His Tracks Once They Are in the House Together
Once your cat and dog can be in the area of the house together with your dog on leash you can try having him on a much longer leash inside the house. While he is calm in sight of the cat praise and treat him as before. If he takes off after your cat, you can catch this long leash and redirect him before he makes too much progress. When redirecting his attention, use the “Ah-ah-ahhh!” growling sound, rather than “No.” Use a stern voice so that the dog recognizes the difference in tone from your normal voice. It is important your voice correction is sincere and that the delivery is consistent so that the dog associates the harsh tone with stopping the behavior. As soon as the chase stops redirect your dog with a command such as sit and when he follows it praise him and treat him excitedly.

Practice targeted obedience training will also help you stop any chasing while off leash. The aim is to make your dog super-reliable on the commands “Leave it,” “Come,” and “Sit”. You need to be SURE that he will obey your command to leave the cat alone.

With close supervision and targeted obedience work, your cat-terrorist will get to the point where he is capable of ignoring cats. Although they may never become friends, as some dogs and cats will, at least they will be able to live together in peace.

Creating the Right Environment Once Your Cat and Dogs are in the house together
-Each pet in the household needs a safe peaceful place where they can go and relax. For cats this place should be elevated and not accessible by dogs. At the moment your cat already has a safe place but later on when your cat and the doberman can be in the rest of the house together you will need to provide areas in the house where your cat can still escape to for quite time and safety.
-Dogs will try to access and eat your cat’s food so make sure it is up out of reach
-If you are using litter-boxes for you cat make sure they are also out of reach of your dog in an area that your cat will feel safe in. If your cat feels vulnerable while using the litter box it may take to toileting in places it feels safer such as behind couches and in cupboards!

All the best,
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Oct 2, 2009
Hi vidamorim,

I find all the information/instructions from KOPsarah very helpful.

I have 3 dogs with very high prey drive towards small animals such as squirrels, cats, etc. In fact they are border collies and cattle dogs mixes.

Just last year, my daughter moved back with her adult cat and I was very worried that my dogs would chase the cat and might hurt him. However, things just turned out to be wonderful because I think we took a great deal of patience and cautions when introducing the cat to our dogs. She brought the cat to our house a few times before she actually moved in. She held the cat and tried to walk around the house while all the dogs got so interested in meeting the cat. The cat was safe in my daughter's arms and we kept telling our dogs to be gentle. Fortunately our dogs are quite sensible and respond well to our verbal commands and they knew they would get in trouble if they ever hurt my daughter's precious animal. We only let the dogs come close when we were supervising them. We put up a doggy gate at the bottom of the stairs. Upstairs is the safe place for the cat. Within a week or two after they moved in my dogs accepted the cat as part of their pack and now they are getting along so well. Oliver, the cat, takes walk with our dogs around the neighborhood off-leash.

About a month ago I started fostering baby kittens and I was worried again since these kittens are so fragile and small that our dogs might think they are mice or squirrels and it will switch on their prey drive. We did the same way of introduction, bringing the kittens to them by holding in our arms. Just let the dogs smell the kittens. Again within a couple of weeks, our dogs accepted them as part of our family. Now the kittens run around the house like a thunder and chewing the dogs paws but the dogs are very gentle with them.

Our dogs still have strong prey drive outside the house toward small animals. The difference between our cats and stranger cats to our dogs is very clear: our cats are accepted as part of us, stranger cats are something they need to chase and catch and maybe even kill. In fact one of my dogs has caught a squirrel twice in the past. Both times, she let it go when I shouted "Leave it!".

I think your doberman will learn to respect the cat if he is obedient and you can introduce the cat to him in the way that is something very precious to you. You should do the same thing when you introduce a new baby to your dogs. Good luck
Posted by vidamorim
Oct 5, 2009
Thank you very much, for all the information. I am going to start the training with my dog today.
Posted by Emma-Crabtree
Aug 27, 2011
Just picked up on this post, which is of great value as we came into possession of a kitten c. 2 weeks ago. She's c. 2 months old and I'm taking the time to keep Teddy and Georgie apart, but also to have 2-5min 'getting to know you' sessions each day. I'm hopeful!

I wonder how vidamorim got on?
Posted by KOPCaroline
Aug 29, 2011
Just another idea that came to me - to follow up on the idea of each animal having safe places in the house -

If theres an area of the house you can block access to or train the dog to not enter (upstairs works well, or certain rooms that are seperate) - this provides a guaranteed safe area for the cat. Baby gates can work really well as most cats have no trouble getting over them, but dogs do generally. Some kind of blockage with a climbing surface for kitty to use but doggy to be stumped with also works - there are plenty of do-it-yourself solutions.

This sort of idea helps ensure that, should your pup have a recurrence of wanting to chase, the cat can escape within the house easily. Its just extra security.

Be sure to train the dog not to go in/near the area while you are home, just to help drive the idea in.

Other than that, I cant do more than agree with everyone else's suggestions