Can Small Animals Live with Dogs? How To Introduce Them?

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
How to introduce your small pet to your dog? Should you prepare, and what should be your first move? Read on to discover how to introduce small pets to dogs and how to do it safely.

Owning a dog is such a unique experience. Being responsible for an animal is like nothing you get to experience.

You get to provide for a living being, to give the best foods, spend time outdoors, and have a furry friend ready for any obstacle that life tosses on you.

Once you get a dog you get to master the human-dog connection and understand animals on a completely different level.

This is the main reason why many decide to get another dog, even a cat. Sometimes people have too many obligations that keep them away from their home, and they don’t want their dog to be alone.

Dogs are prone to separation anxiety if left alone for too long and frequently. Therefore, getting another pet seems logical.

However, taking another dog is a whole new level of responsibility that not everyone can cope with, especially if you live alone and travel frequently.

Certain things are better when you have the right support around you. Just imagine having two or more dogs and you get a cold…

Unless you can find a dog sitter or someone to walk your dog, you might be in trouble… This is the main reason why many dog owners choose to add small pets as addition to their furry family.

But… Can Small Animals Live with Dogs?

Whether you’re welcoming a hamster into your home with a dog or adding a new puppy to your family of cat, introducing a small animal to a dog always requires patience, love, and above everything else consistency.

In most cases, the proper introduction usually leads to lasting friendships.

So, dogs and small pets can co-exist together and there are many stories to support this claim.

There are also many stories where introductions between dogs and smaller pets went wrong, with pets ending up seriously injured.

Luckily, there are clear signs that are actually showing if the introduction heads toward success.

Now, let’s see if you should introduce your dog to a small animal to your dog in the first place.

Should You Introduce Your Dog to A Small Animal?

Small pets and dogs have a connection that dates back to ancient civilizations. Still, the introduction should be done with a plan, carefully, and with a lot of attention.

Before you create the ultimate plan on how to introduce your small pet and your dog, be honest and think about this well.

Consider the following:

  • Does your dog sits still when there is a smaller animal passing by?
  • Does your dog ignores squirrels or runs after them?
  • Can you let your dog off leash and trust him not to run on the sight of the first animal he sees?
  • How does he react when he sees rabbits?
  • Has your dog ever killed wildlife?

If the answer to either question is yes, an introduction could be dangerous both to you, your dog, and your small pet.

Don’t think that your dog is evil because he loves to chase squirrels – it’s just nature.

How To Keep Dogs And Small Animals Safe?

Safety comes first. To make a proper introduction between dogs (or dogs) and small pets, you should consider the following.

1. Prepare In Advance

Preparation is everyhting. Bringing your new animal family member is always stressful, but it can go smoothly if you prepare well. Take the time needed to properly set up your new pet in her or his own space.

You should spend days on this, to let the pet feel relaxed and safe.

Try to minimize the stress and make the environment as safe as possible. Small pets are tiny, so your goal is always to protect them first.

If you are introducing the dog to your small pet, you should still focus on the safety of a smaller pet. In the meantime, your dog should be on a leash or a harness every second.

Make sure that dog has a necklace on him all the time. In case of an unexpected moment, you can easily grab your dog for the necklace.

When you are not able to provide direct supervision, keep pets separated and if possible block out the sound of a potentially barking dog.

You might get used to your dog barking, but a too-small mammal, barking can be overwhelming and too stressful.

2. Think About Health

You know that keeping your dog healthy is a lot of work.

You need to provide proper treatments when needed, to keep the dog safe from internal parasites, fleas, any skin change, and so on.

So, when introducing dogs to small pets, you need to think about infections, because infections can be transmitted between species.

So, before you place them in the same room, make sure that both animals have had a veterinary exam and a stool sample taken before bringing your new addition home.

Also, don’t forget that dogs and cats go outside, and there are a higher risk of bringing in fleas, ticks, and even ear mites to your small mammals.

Luckily, there are several preventive medications to help minimize the risk of your dog or cat bringing home parasites.

3. First Impression Matters

You shouldn’t force introduction. Once your small pet is in his or her room, you should let your dog smell it through the crack under the door. This way you will let them met slowly and in a safe environment.

Plus, animals rely on their scent, so letting them smell each other is important. Once they get used to smell, the initial excitement should subside.

From here you can move on and let them be in the same room. Keep your dog on a leash or harness and slowly enter the room when the small pet is happily caged at the moment, keepign both pets at a safe distance.

Occasionally, allow a short face-to-face meeting, and then leave the room.

The goal here is to allow them to meet, but also to promote closer introductions. Start with short periods, three to five minutes, two to three times a day.

Your dog mustn’t have easy access to the cage directly. You would want to avoid any accident – like knowing the cage over.

Small pets should have at least one place inside the cage to hide in.

Next to this, all pets should have food and water in a safe and separate place to minimize food aggression.

Don’t Forget Rewards

Don’t forget about the treats! Prepare yummy and most favorite dog’s treats on hand reach to reward his nice behavior.

Dogs love to eat and they won’t ever say ‘no’ to a delicious treat specially designed for dogs.

If you tend to reward your dog with human foods, make sure that you know which food is safe, and how much you can serve to your dog.

Every time your dog listens to you when in a room with a small pet, reward him. Moreover, reward him when he remains calm. The key here is to introduce them gradually without forcing them.

Be Neutral

Have you ever heard about sibling rivalry among dogs?

It’s a real thing, and you may witness it if you don’t introduce other pets to your dog slowly, or if you give one pet too much attention. This works like bringing another baby home, so be careful.

Do Some Dogs Do Better With Small Animals Than Others?

Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as Setters and Pointers, have a greater prey drive and usually have a higher risk for natural instincts to take over, where a small pet is nearby.

It’s just in their genes. There is no dog breed alive without a natural predatory instinct, but you can always train them from a young age. Pets who grow up together usually get along nicely, from a young age onwards.

Do Some Small Animals Do Better with Dogs Than Others?

This is very individual, but some animals do get along better with dogs, such as rabbits.

Rabbits can get along with dogs, cats, birds, and even guinea pigs. Still, every interaction should be supervised as predator-prey instincts are a driving force of all sorts.

Fast Tips For Keeping Small Animals And Dogs In The Same Home

  • Prepare well
  • Check pets at your veterinarian before the introduction
  • Make them first impression count
  • Think about safety always
  • Always have treats on hand
  • Be a good pet owner

Types Of Pets That Should Never Live Together

Some pets get along perfectly, while others prefer to be only household-pet. Animals don’t always get along, so some species are hard to keep under the same roof, such as:

  • Bords and most cats
  • Rodents and most cats
  • Mixing small and large birds
  • Hamster with another hamster, since they’re highly territorial
  • Rabbits and guinea pigs
  • Most dogs with small pets
  • Some dogs and some cats
  • Ferrets with other small mammals
  • Hedgehogs and other pets

Don’t Forget About The Children

If you have children, don’t focus only on pets. You need to focus on pets and children as well.

  • Is your child a dog lover or not?
  • Is your child open to new pets in your home?
  • Is your child allergic to something?
  • Is your child afraid of animals?

You need to think about these and other questions if you want to have a peaceful household. At a young age, children have a hard time understanding how to handle animals properly.

They want to hug dogs, squeeze them or even play a bit tough as if they were toys. As expected, animals don’t like being handled roughly and prefer gentle moves that won’t disturb them.

Make sure that you educate your child on how to behave around animals, especially dogs. This way you will minimize chances for injuries in both child and animal.

Better safe than sorry! Until your child is old enough to understand how to treat pets, you are better off keeping them apart or at least constantly supervised.