Perhaps, one of the most interesting topics in pet parenting is co-existing or cohabitation between two pets of different species. That means keeping more than one type of animal in the same environment.
Among the most challenging is having dogs and reptiles live in the same house. You need to know how to help your dogs co-exist with reptiles if you intend to keep both as pets in your home.
One thing is for sure, it is a process that takes time, patience, and vigilance. Keep on reading to learn how to help your reptiles and dogs co-exist.
Tips to Consider
You can’t just wake up one day and decide that you need to introduce a dog to a pet reptile and vice versa.
You need to come up with a plan for this brand new idea of yours, considering that these two pets are of different species. The following tips will help make things easier while you are figuring out how to help dogs co-exist with reptiles.
Choose Animals That Can Coexist
Dogs and reptiles can learn how to live together peacefully in the same environment. Choosing the right breed, however, will go a long way toward a non-violent co-existence. Certain breeds of dogs and reptiles are more likely to get along fine with other species.
Affectionate and Sociable Dog Breeds
There are about seven groups of dogs you have to consider when looking for affectionate and sociable dog breeds. They include terrier, working, sporting, herding, hound, and toy.
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The most sociable and affectionate dogs come from the toy group, such as the Bichon Frise, Papillon, Poodle, Pomeranian, and Pug. They are mainly bred to be lap warmers and companions. So, you can expect the toy group to easily co-exist with reptiles.
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Dogs from the sporting group are usually outgoing and friendly. They are always happy to make new friends with other pets, such as cats. They usually cohabit with reptiles.
Terrier & Hound
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Spirited groups like terriers and hounds are normally bred for the chase and hunt. So, a fast-moving small reptile could easily trigger aggressive predatory instincts. It may involve a lot of work and time to get these guys to live harmoniously with your reptiles.
The herding group, on the other hand, is instinctively bound to herd, gather, and protect. These are some activities that some reptiles may not appreciate most of the time.
These groups should give you an understanding of what the breeds are like. But, it doesn’t mean that you cannot teach any breed of dog to co-exist with reptiles.
Gentle-Natured and Sociable Reptiles
Dogs tend to have so many things in common, but the same cannot be said with reptiles.
Some popular reptiles that have been seen in homes are bearded dragons, pythons, geckos, skinks, anoles, iguanas, and more. These animals differ in so many ways and not all of them can live together with dogs.
Each reptile breed will interact differently with your dog, while some may be almost impossible to intermingle with your canines.
Bearded dragons or beardies are every pet parent's favorite because they are docile, naturally calm, and sociable. They are likely to interact with your dogs without aggressiveness. Visit reptileslife.com for more details on beardies.
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Leopard geckos are usually mild-tempered creatures. These reptiles are non-aggressive and will rarely act skittish or bite. They can make good companions for dogs.
Note: Interactions between a dog and a snake, such as a ball python or a rosy boa, are not recommended. There isn’t a lot of research that supports a snake-dog relationship would work.
Choose Reptiles That Aren’t Toxic or Infected
Poison, bacteria, and parasites are three important considerations when introducing reptiles to dogs. Some reptiles have a reputation for being poisonous or carriers of bacteria and parasites.
One thing that you should be particularly concerned about is salmonella infection. Most reptiles are carriers of different strains of the salmonella bacteria. Infected reptiles may shed the bacteria through their skin or feces and end up contaminating the environment that they share with your dogs.
You may be successful in helping your dogs and reptiles cohabit, but at a cost of salmonella infection. This disease in dogs could cause acute gastroenteritis. Common symptoms can include diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, anorexia, and nausea.
The best course of action is to have both the lizard and the dog checked by a veterinarian before introducing them.
Teach Your Dog Basic Commands
You must teach your dog basic commands to make the interactions easy. Simple commands, such as come, stay, sit, and leave-it are important when introducing your dog to a reptile.
Sit and Stay Command
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These are important behaviors that you need to teach your dog. These behaviors will really come in handy when introducing your dog to a reptile. You can confidently put it off-leash, knowing that you can use the sit and stay command to stop your dog from getting too close to your pet reptile.
For this training session, you will need some yummy treats such as freeze-dried salmon, a collar, and a 6-foot dog leash.
Start with a high-value treat in between your fingers, and then lure your four-legged friend into the sit position. You can easily achieve this by holding the treat close to its nose and then moving it up over its head. The dog’s instinct will be to sit to effectively continue to follow the treat’s path. Reward your dog when it sits and follows the treat’s direction.
Then, introduce the verbal ‘Sit’ cue and lure it into the sit position again. Mark the behavior and give a reward.
Next, train your dog to hold the sit position until released. Use a treat to lure it to the sit position. Then encourage your dog to hold the sit position with another treat and patting. Introduce the ‘Stay’ cue and reward with a treat.
Then, teach your dog to come up from the sit position. You may not need a treat lure for the ‘Come’ cue. Just use the word come accompanied by hand gestures that direct your pup to stand.
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The next important command you have to teach your dog when introducing it to a reptile such as a pet lizard is the leave-it command. This is a very important behavior that will help stop your dog’s predatory instincts when introducing it to a reptile.
Start by sitting down on the floor with your dog in front of you. Put a leave-it treat (low-value) in one hand and your dog’s favorite (like freeze-dried salmon) in the other hand.
Open your hand containing the leave-it treat and stretch it out near your dog. But don’t let it take the food.
One of two things may happen. First, your dog would ignore your hand and not try to get the treat. If this happens, tap your dog and reward it with its favorite treat. On the other hand, your dog may scratch and try to get the food from your hand. If this happens, ignore your dog and try again after a few seconds.
Your dog will soon realize that if it can resist the leave-it treat, it will soon be rewarded with its favorite delicacy.
Next, introduce the ‘Leave-It’ cue to complete the training.
Introduce the Two Animals to Each Other
Once you’ve got all the above covered, you can start the introductions and meetings.
You can have your dog off-leash if it responds obediently to the sit-and-stay command. What you should be really concerned about is how you will hold your reptile when introducing it to the dog. Make sure they are not too close. Then, give them enough time to sniff and investigate each other.
Be on the lookout for any signs of aggression or stress, especially from the lizard. If your dog isn’t too pleased with the reptile encounter, it may bark, whine, or change body posture. If a reptile, such as a bearded dragon, doesn't like the meeting, it may express head bobbing, tail raising, or head shaking.
We recommend you stop the interaction at the first sign of aggression from either animal. Try again later when each animal is calm. It is important to have a reptile enclosure in another part of the house where your reptile can calm down peacefully before another encounter with the dog.
These two animals may get along easily after just a few meetings. But that doesn’t mean you should leave them unattended. You must always supervise their interactions, even after they have become friends.
Can my dog eat my reptile?
The dog should not have the desire to eat your lizard once they are used to each other's presence. But there is always the possibility of your dog eating your pet lizard. So, don’t leave them unsupervised.
Can my reptile bite my dog?
Your reptile could bite your dog if the two animals become aggressive to each other. So, always put your reptile in the enclosure when you are not home.
It takes effort to know how to help dogs co-exist with reptiles, such as choosing social breeds, a vet visit, and teaching basic commands. But when you get it right, you will be a happy pet parent when you see your dog and lizard hanging out on the carpet. But, never leave a dog and a reptile unsupervised!