German Shepherds have earned a reputation over time as fearsome guard dogs who might not get along so well with other animal members of the household or farm, but is this really true?
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How German Shepherds Do With Other Animals They Live With
Some German Shepherds love to be around other animals, and others can become aggressive and even predatory in the company of other pets. Much depends on how well the German Shepherd has been trained and socialized from a very early age.
There is every reason to hope that introducing a German Shepherd to your pet cat, rabbit, bird or even horse will be a huge success.
They could quite easily become the best of pals, if the introduction is done well. However, some dogs simply don’t do well around other animals.
Let’s explore further!
Can a German Shepherd Be Around My Cat Safely?
Some of us just love animals and enjoy a home that’s filled with all species. But not all of them will get along as harmoniously as they would in a cartoon movie.
At the same time, not all dogs love to torment cats in the way we might think.
German Shepherds are naturally programmed to herd animals, protect their homes and owners, and rid the pack of unwanted guests.
It means that they especially love to chase cats, even if they rarely catch them outside.
In the house, there’s less chance for a cat to escape the German Shepherd’s hunting expertise so if your German Shepherd is already an adult and has been poorly socialized with cats, chances are they’ll never be good friends and your dog could do some real damage to your pet cat.
Introducing a GSD to your cat
A lot depends on whether you’re introducing a new dog into the house, or a new cat.
If your German Shepherd has prior experience of cats and has always done well around them, there’s no reason to think that even with some initial nerves on both sides, they can’t become friends.
If you already have cats and are thinking about introducing a dog, then you will always get better results with a younger dog.
Puppies always respond better to socialization and it’s often true that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, at least not if they’re already of the mindset that cats are the enemy.
With patience and guidance nothing is impossible, and if you’re set on putting the two together, take your time and seek advice from a trusted trainer.
Tips such as introducing each other using a blanket with their scent on it, feeding the two near each other… these are all great ways to start.
One of the joys of animals is the way they constantly surprise us, so it’s worth a try if you keep everyone safe.
Will a German Shepherd Dog Kill My Bunny?
While a cat can often leap out of the way of a cranky German Shepherd, a rabbit isn’t as athletic, especially indoors.
It means that unless your German Shepherd is good with rabbits and has been well socialized, the two together could spell bad news for your bunny!
We can’t stress enough just how vital training and early socialization are when it comes to putting a German Shepherd near any other living thing, human or animal, but dogs like German Shepherds have a high prey drive and sometimes their instincts take over.
The smaller the animal, the more likely it is that your German Shepherd will see it as prey.
Once again, start the introductions early on in the dog’s life, not the rabbit’s. But if you’re a rabbit lover who’s thinking of getting a dog, a German Shepherd may not be the breed to look for.
There are always exceptions, of course, but even if you’re happy the two are getting along well, it’s still not good to leave them alone unsupervised.
It also goes without saying that your German Shepherd should not be introduced to any animal until they’re trained to listen to your commands, so that they will immediately stop what they’re doing and sit when you instruct them.
A dog who is already disobedient and untrained is a danger to other pets.
Try and find a place that your German Shepherd can meet the new animal, such as the rabbit, in a neutral space, where neither feels threatened by an invasion.
If the environment is controlled and you take your time, you may again be pleasantly surprised, but be prepared to accept that yours might not be a German Shepherd/Rabbit hybrid home.
Do German Shepherds Get Along with Birds?
Birds, like cats and rabbits, have both co-existed with dogs and have been tormented by them since the beginning of time. It all comes down to temperaments and training, as we’re beginning to see.
One great advantage of putting a bird together with a German Shepherd is that for much of the time, your bird will be in its cage.
A German Shepherd will make short work of a poorly constructed cage, so be sure to have a secure, safe haven for your bird.
The same applies with chickens; they’re not often going to be roaming around the house and instead are more likely to be in the garden, perhaps behind chicken wire or a fence.
This makes it ideal for the birds and your German Shepherd to get used to living alongside one another without being in danger.
Making sure your bird feels safe around your German Shepherd
Over time, if your German Shepherd and your bird are interacting well with one another when they’re separate, you may want to try them together.
It’s important to remember just how delicate a bird is, even in the presence of a friendly puppy. Birds can’t have the rough-and-tumble playtime between a puppy and a kitten; just one well-meaning pounce could be deadly.
So, while early socialization is once again vital, it’s even more important to do this in a controlled environment and never allow either the dog or the bird to become anxious or stressed.
Be able recognize the signs of anxiety – birds losing their feathers around dogs is a sure sign that all is not well.
In the same vein, a drooling dog means trouble! Monitor your pets’ behavior, but at the same time keep an eye on their health, which can also be very revealing.
Should I Allow my German Shepherd Near My Horse?
Dogs aren’t just a nice addition to a horsey household – they’re often vital!
Dogs are protective and can guard a pony as well as ridding the stable of unwanted pests. They provide companionship and bond very well with horses.
And the German Shepherd comes out on top as one of the best breeds to have around a horse!
Once again, they require a lot of training and socialization but the bond between a horse and its German Shepherd pal can last for years.
Both animals are intelligent and form strong bonds with one another, becoming friends who depend on one another for companionship and exercise.
When they’re first introduced, you must make sure your German Shepherd is calm, and doesn’t scare the horse, as a skittish horse isn’t just an unwanted situation, but can be deadly.
Horses are incredibly powerful and have a lethal kick.
Be sure that your dogs are always be on a leash for the first few meetings but as is the case with birds, horses live in a separate area and aren’t seen to be invading the dog’s territory in the house.
It means that the partnership is likely to go very well!
After all, German Shepherds are fearless and strong, but they’re not as likely to see a horse as prey, given that the horse is so much larger.
Instead, a well-trained German Shepherd is likely to have more respect for an animal such as a horse more so than he would a dog or a rabbit.
Allow them to sniff and get to know one another from behind the safety of a fence or stable door and over time, it’s very possible that a German Shepherd and a horse will become inseparable friends.
The Secret to Everyone Living Together Peacefully
Ultimately, the older all animals are, the less ready they are to accept new friends, especially if they’re of another species.
While a puppy is the best candidate for socialization with other animals, the same can be said of kittens, chicks, and other babies.
Younger animals are easier to train and don’t know any different, so start early.
Otherwise, it’s not impossible, but it does require time, patience, good training, and a watchful eye when getting a German Shepherd used to other pets in the house.
Reward your German Shepherd’s good behavior and he’ll soon understand that the better behaved he is with his siblings, the more affection and even treats he’ll receive.