Dogs with Other Pets - FamilyEducation

Dogs with Other Pets

How will your dog react to a new pet? Find information and tips on how to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Dogs can and do live peacefully with all sorts of other pets, from white mice and bunny rabbits to parrots and ferrets, as well as with cats and farmyard critters. The secrets to a peaceable kingdom are patience and caution—give them time and keep them safe.

Introduce your puppy or dog to your other pets carefully. The last thing you want is for anyone to be frightened or hurt. Be sure that a responsible adult is in a position to intervene immediately whenever your pup or dog interacts with the other animal until you're certain they're safe together. Remember, when different species meet, they have to learn how to communicate with one another.

Be reasonable about what you ask. Your dog may love and cherish your child's hamster, but if your dog was bred to hunt and your hamster skitters across the floor, the instinct to chase and kill could cause a family tragedy. If you have a puppy, teach him from the start to be gentle with other animals, particularly those who have no way to escape or fight back. If you have an adult dog and want to introduce a new animal to the household, be cautious. Give your dog time to get used to the idea of another animal in his space. If he's never met an animal of this kind before, let him sniff and watch while you hold the newcomer, or while it's in a cage.

Remember, too, that even if he's a lot bigger than the other animal, your dog could be hurt in an encounter gone wrong. More than one puppy has lost an eye to a feline swat, and I recently heard of a dog who lost part of his nose to a parrot. So watch both animals, and be alert to signs of fear or unhappiness that could lead to aggression.

Happily, once the introductory period is over, most dogs get along well with other pets, and together they enrich our lives.