Many dog owners are also cat owners, and a good portion of those pet owners are lucky enough to have their pets get along (or at least co-exist happily). You might see dogs and cats snuggling together by the fire or playing with each other, and the owners don’t feel as though there is a threat between the two animals. While it probably took a lot of effort to get to that spot, it would definitely be worth all of the effort put into it in the long run!
Introductions for your pets are crucial elements in helping your pets get along. Do you already have the cat, and you are bringing home the German Shepherd, or vice versa? Is the German Shepherd a puppy or an adult dog? In either case, when you introduce the two of them, be sure to ensure that they are relaxed and feel safe and loved. Allow them a few minutes to sniff and get used to being around each other.
After you do that, make sure that you give each pet his or her own room for a while, or else put up a divider or barrier that will keep them away from each other. It is important to give them the chance to smell each other or see each other, while keeping them safe, so a small hole cut into the barrier at the bottom is usually a great idea. If kept in separate rooms, be sure to switch rooms from time to time so that they can get used to the other animal by smelling.
Since German Shepherds are originally working and hunting dogs, and keeping in mind that they are also a larger breed, it is important to make sure that the animals are safe. Give the cat somewhere to go where your dog cannot reach it, such as a climbing tree or a high shelf where he or she will feel safe, if the need to get away from the dog arises. When the dog and cat do interact positively with each other, be sure to reward that behavior! If, for example, your dog chooses to bark at your cat, then be sure to distract the dog instead of yelling or scolding harshly – negative experiences with the other animal have the possibility to end up in more negative experiences.
Another important thing that you can do to help your pets get along is to keep their food and water dishes separated from each other. Cats and dogs can both get territorial when their things are disturbed. Keep them in separate rooms if possible, so that your cat or dog will not get each other’s scents on the bowls, causing stress, and even the refusal to eat or drink from that bowl again. This same tactic should be used for toys, as well – do not let your dog or cat take each others toys, unless they already can place nicely together.
Your German Shepherd and a cat can get along with some reassurance, positive reinforcement, and plenty of love. Make sure that you give both of your pets lots of attention and remind them that they are special to you!