Dobermans often have amiable personalities and get along well with -- or at least ignore -- their feline roommates. You can establish a solid foundation for dog-cat harmony by choosing and training your dog, and carefully introducing your pets to each other.
Choosing the Right Dog
While many Dobermans get along well with cats, some have such a strong urge to hunt smaller animals that cats aren’t safe around them. Whether you get your Doberman from a breeder or from a shelter, make sure the dog has been around kitties or at least has been cat-tested. Some breeders raise their puppies around felines, while rescues often introduce pooches to kitties in a safe environment to assess whether an individual Doberman can live peacefully with cats. Reputable breeders and shelters want to make the best match possible, so they’ll help you find a dog that will get along with your kitty.
Whether the Doberman’s coming into a home where a cat already lives or you’re bringing a kitty into the dog’s domain, a slow and careful introduction can help you avoid a lot of problems. Cats are usually more cautious about approaching dogs -- especially a critter like a Doberman who’s so much larger than they are -- than vice versa. Respect your feline’s need to hang back and figure out this new roommate. When you’re not around to supervise, confine one or both of them so they don’t clash in your absence. If you give them time and space to get used to each other, they might well become best friends eventually.
Training your Doberman can help puppy and kitty coexist more easily. If you see trouble looming, try to divert the dog’s attention. If he doesn’t already respond to his name and commands such as “Leave it!” and “No cat!”, teach him using his favorite treat as an incentive. A training class can help you and your pup develop a stronger bond, making him more likely to listen to you. Even after he’s mastered these commands, review them occasionally. If you can call him off when he agitates the kitty, you can avoid a lot of chaos and help your pets develop a better relationship.
Your Doberman might always want to chase the cat, especially when she’s scampering crazily around the house. Even if he thinks they’re just playing, kitty could be upset by his (unintended) roughness. He might try to pin her down to give her a thorough sniffing and total-body licking. He might even mistake himself for a mama cat and try to carry your kitty around by the scruff of her neck -- which she won’t like! If he’s well-trained, you should be able to get him to leave her alone if he starts in on any of these behaviors.
- Dobermann image by Manuel Weber from Fotolia.com