How to Train a German Shepherd Puppy to Live With a Cat

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German Shepherd puppies can be taught to ignore the cat.
German Shepherd puppies can be taught to ignore the cat. (Image: german shepherd puppy image by Jeff from Fotolia.com)

German Shepherds are extremely excitable dogs. They're known for chasing anything that moves and in taking joy in the pursuit and capture of cats and other small animals. If training begins at a very early age before bad habits are imprinted, your German Shepherd puppy can learn to not only live with the family cat but to enjoy its company.

Things You'll Need

  • Crate
  • Collar
  • Leash
  • Treats

Start the instant you bring your German Shepherd puppy home by preventing it from ever chasing the cat. Until about 12 weeks of age, most German Shepherd puppies will be smaller than a cat. The small and more easily controlled your puppy is, the easier training will be. If you don't ever allow bad habits to start, then you won't have to break them later.

Crate your puppy in the middle of the living room. Doing so in the living room provides plenty of extra space and helps the cat feel more secure. Allow the cat to approach the crated puppy at his own pace. Do this every night for a week. Prevent the cat and the puppy being together during this time.

Start crating the cat in the middle of the living room and allowing the puppy to approach the crate. If she becomes too excited, hold her back until she calms down. Pet her quietly and offer her treats while she sniffs the crate. Allow her three to five days to become acquainted with the scent of the family cat.

A traveling crate will keep your cat safe while the puppy is getting used to her.
A traveling crate will keep your cat safe while the puppy is getting used to her. (Image: cage de transport avec chat image by Nath Photos from Fotolia.com)

After the puppy and the cat have had a chance to become familiar with each other's scent, it's time to allow them to see each other. Have a helper hold the puppy securely while you hold the cat. Approach only as closely as either animal is comfortable with. If there is any bristling or grumbling from the cat, increase distance. Continue until you can stand right next to your partner with both the puppy and cat held securely.

Let the cat roam freely. Keep your German Shepherd puppy on a leash at all times. Tether the puppy to your ankle while you're around the house. Always have a toy handy. When it is around the cat, offer the cat treats for being calm and gentle. If it gets too excited, increase distance or leave the room. Eventually, the cat will be just another piece of furniture, and the puppy won't acknowledge it any more.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't ever let the puppy stare at the cat. Keep a can filled with pennies close at hand and rattle it if the puppy starts to intensely stare at the cat.

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