Many people have multi-pet households, but it can be challenging at times to find different types of animals that can co-exist peacefully. This is especially true of pets that can do well with dogs since dogs are predatory animals, and many breeds of dogs were specifically bred for hunting smaller animals.
Dogs can live peacefully with many kinds of animals, depending on their personality and prey drive. Some dogs will ignore other household animals, while others will try to kill or eat them. Others still may accidentally injure smaller animals. The best pets to keep with dogs are pets that can be separated from them or pets of similar size.
Making sure that pets are compatible before endangering them is the responsibility of the owner, so you can’t hold the dog responsible if they make a snack out of an incompatible pet. Read on to learn more about what other pets get along best with dogs.
Dogs Don’t Do Well with Small Animals as Pets
As a general rule, dogs don’t do well with many other small animals that are kept as pets, such as the following:
- Guinea pigs
This is because these types of animals are seen as prey to dogs and other predatory pets (such as cats), and a dog’s instinct when it is around prey is to kill it. Even if your dog doesn’t go after a small animal right away, there’s no telling at what point in the future they might snap and kill the smaller animal when the owner’s back is turned.
Another issue with small animals and dogs comes with having large dogs. Many large dogs do not have a good sense of their size or strength and can accidentally crush a small animal with their paws or the weight of their body in an attempt to play with them.
This is even more the case with rambunctious adolescent puppies who may have poor impulse control and become very excited in the presence of a prey animal.
In most cases, if a person chooses to keep small animals such as those listed above with a dog, the dog has to be kept completely separate from the smaller animal to prevent any injury or death from occurring.
In a few rare cases, a dog may have the maturity or harmless nature to be allowed to be around small animals—this is especially true of livestock guardian breeds, who are bred specifically to protect animals that are smaller and weaker than themselves.
On the flip side of that, there are certain breeds—such as huskies, hounds, and terriers—that are absolutely untrustworthy around small animals because their prey drive is higher than the average dog. Even if a terrier isn’t trained to hunt and kill small animals, its instincts will drive it to do so.
Dogs Do Well with Animals They Can Be Separated From
Dogs are a good option for pets that are primarily kept for display, such as the following:
- Aquariums: Aquariums are a good option for keeping with dogs because a dog generally will treat an aquarium like a piece of furniture (albeit an entertaining one—many dogs and cats enjoy watching aquariums). This means that dogs aren’t likely to attempt to try to get fish out of the aquarium or knock it over as long as a sturdy stand is used.
- Terrariums: Terrariums are also an interesting choice of secondary pets to keep with a dog and have the same basic advantages of an aquarium, too. Terrariums can be used to keep a wide variety of exotic pets from moon crabs to poison dart frogs. (Source: Josh’s Frogs)
- Aviaries: Birds that don’t have to be removed from the cage often, such as zebra finches, are a good choice to be kept with dogs. Larger birds such as parrots generally require too much human socialization and time outside of their cage to be compatible with dogs. Keeping an outdoor dovecote is also a good way to keep birds while also keeping dogs.
Many smaller animals are compatible with dogs because of how easy it is to keep them away from each other, and the animals above are good options for people who want to take the hassle out of keeping different species of animals together safely.
Dogs and Cats Usually Get Along Well if Raised Together
There is a lot of folklore associated with dogs and cats not getting along, and some breeds of dogs are notoriously bad at getting along with cats. Siberian huskies and pit bulls are two breeds that have checkered reputations when it comes to being friendly around cats.
If you want to keep a dog and a cat together, the ideal situation is to raise a puppy and a kitten together. Even if the puppy outgrows the kitten, raising the two alongside each other can ensure that the puppy remains tolerant of the cat and recognizes it as a member of the family even after it achieves its full growth and adult temperament.
Raising a dog and a cat together not only allows them to bond with each other over several months and years, but it also allows the dog’s owner to teach them from a young age that antisocial behaviors such as rough-housing with the cat or chasing it are not acceptable behaviors.
This training can also be done with an older dog, but at significantly higher risk to the cat if the dog breaks training and decides to try to catch it. Cats that are introduced to adult dogs should be introduced slowly and gradually to prevent any fighting that could damage the relationship for years to come. (Source: Best Friends Animal Society)
How to Keep Small Animals Safe from Dogs
If you choose to keep smaller pets together with dogs, it is your responsibility as their owner to make sure that the smaller animal remains safe while the dog is being trained to tolerate it. You also should be aware that a dog can turn on and kill a smaller animal at any point, no matter how much they have been trained to the contrary.
Here are some ways you can keep other small animals in the household safe from your pet dog:
- Set up boundaries. Devices such as dog gates can help you set up safe dog-free spaces for smaller animals to roam and explore, but many dogs have easily jumped a dog or baby gate to get to something they wanted. A better option is to keep small animals behind a closed door whenever they’re not being kept in their cage or hutch.
- Train your dog in the “Leave it” command. This can allow you to teach your dog to turn away or ignore anything you don’t want them to pay attention to, including a small animal.
(Source: American Kennel Club)
- Keep your dog leashed around small animals. If you want to try to get your dog used to being around small animals like guinea pigs or rabbits, be sure that they are leashed and secure during introductions to ensure that the dog doesn’t decide to try to take a bite out of the smaller animal.
Some dogs can be trained to be around small animals safely, while others may never be trustworthy around them. When in doubt, always safeguard the safety of the smaller animal during interspecies socialization to prevent a tragedy.
Lots of Pets Go Well with Dogs
Even though some dogs have a reputation for injuring or killing smaller animals, the truth is that many dogs can be taught over time to ignore smaller animals in the household, and others can be safely separated from them. It all depends on the personality of the dog and how much training the owner wants to do with them.