Do Dogs Get Along With Small Pets?

Are you planning to get a small pet like a rabbit or chinchilla and worried if your dog will get along with a small pet or not? Or if you already have a small pet and considering getting a dog and are worried about the chemistry between your existing pets and dog.

Well, it’s a common concern for pet owners. Some households have a mix of these animals, but it’s essential to prioritize safety and well-being when introducing dogs to smaller pets. Dogs have different personalities and instincts, leading to good relationships or potential issues.

This article explores the topic of dogs and small pets getting along. It covers what influences their compatibility and offers practical advice for safe introductions, addressing challenges, and creating a secure environment. The goal is to give pet owners the knowledge and tools for a happy and peaceful coexistence between dogs and small pets.

Understanding Dogs’ Natural Instincts

First, it’s best to understand their instincts. Dogs are descendants of wolves, and many still retain predatory instincts to varying degrees. These instincts can make them view smaller animals, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, or chinchillas, as potential prey.

However, it’s vital to note that dog behavior varies greatly depending on breed, upbringing, training, and socialization factors. Some dogs have a higher prey drive than others. This makes them less suitable for cohabiting with small pets.

The Role Of Breed And Temperament

Breeding significantly influences a dog’s behavior around small pets. Certain breeds, such as terriers and hunting dogs, are selectively bred for strong prey drives, increasing their tendency to chase or display aggression toward small animals. In contrast, breeds like Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Pugs are renowned for their friendly disposition and are often compatible with small pets.

However, it’s essential to remember that each dog is unique, and temperament can vary even within the same breed. While breed tendencies can give you an idea, it’s crucial to assess each dog’s behavior individually.

How To Introduce Your Dog To Small Pets

Below are strategies for safely introducing your dog to small pets.

Early Socialization And Training

Adequate socialization and obedience training are crucial in how dogs interact with other animals, including small pets. Early exposure to various animals and positive experiences can help reduce a dog’s prey drive and teach them to coexist peacefully with smaller creatures.

Puppy socialization classes and controlled introductions to small pets can be valuable in teaching dogs to maintain a calm and non-threatening demeanor. Reinforcement techniques, such as rewarding dogs for calming behavior around small animals, can effectively shape their behavior.

Supervised Interactions

When introducing your dog to small pets, close supervision is vital for safety. Even if your dog is usually gentle and well-socialized, interactions with smaller animals can be unpredictable. To prevent potential issues and ensure a secure environment, watch your pets closely during their interactions and step in if needed.

Additionally, supervised interactions go hand in hand with gradual introductions. To successfully introduce your dog to small pets, take it one step at a time. Start by letting them get used to each other’s scent by swapping bedding or scent-marking products. This initial stage reduces the unfamiliarity and makes face-to-face meetings more manageable.

As you progress to supervised meetings in a neutral area, keep these initial encounters short and positive, gradually increasing their time together. This approach allows both your dog and small pets to become comfortable with each other’s presence in a controlled and safe manner.

Create A Safe Environment

Ensuring your dog’s and small pets’ well-being is essential when fostering a harmonious relationship between them. Here are steps to create a safe environment:

Separate Living Spaces: Create distinct areas for your dog and small pets in your home. This keeps them apart and reduces the chance of unwanted interactions and disasters.

Secure Enclosures: If your small pet will be outside its enclosure, ensure the area is securely fenced off from your dog. Small pets like rabbits or guinea pigs can be quick and agile, so preventing them from escaping or encountering your dog is essential.

Positive Reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement to encourage your dog’s calm and gentle behavior around your small pet. Rewarding your dog for good behavior helps them build positive associations with the small pet, promoting a peaceful coexistence.

These measures are fundamental in creating a safe environment and ensuring the well-being and harmony of all your furry companions.

Signs Of Compatibility And Incompatibility

To determine the compatibility between your dog and small pets, consider the following indicators:

Calm Behavior: Your dog stays relaxed and doesn’t display aggression or fixation on the small pet.

Curiosity: Your dog displays a healthy curiosity towards the small pet without excessive or aggressive interest.

Lack of Aggression: No growling, barking, or lunging behaviors occur toward the small pet.

Positive Body Language: Your dog’s body language is relaxed, with a wagging tail and ears in a neutral position.

On the flip side, indicators of incompatibility encompass:

Aggression: Any form of aggression, including growling, snapping, or biting towards the small pet.

Obsessive Chasing: Your dog chases, corners, or fixates on the small pet.

Stress: The small pet shows signs of stress, such as hiding, excessive vocalization, or refusal to eat.

Overexcitement: Your dog becomes overly excited, leading to unintentional rough play or anxiety in the small pet.

Recognizing these compatibility and incompatibility signs is crucial when assessing your dog’s and small pets’ interactions, enabling you to make informed decisions for their safety and well-being.


Whether dogs can get along with small pets depends on various factors, including breed, temperament, socialization, training, and careful supervision. While some dogs naturally have a higher prey drive, many can peacefully coexist with smaller animals through proper introductions, socialization, and supervision.

Remember that the safety and well-being of all animals involved should be your top priority. If you have doubts about your dog’s behavior or the compatibility between your pets, consult a professional dog trainer or behaviorist for guidance. With patience and the right approach, dogs and small pets can live harmoniously in the same household.

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