Jennifer Munsell from Reptiles Life shares her tips to help dogs co-exist peacefully with reptiles.
A dog and a reptile living together in your home sweet home? That would be a dream of many pet lovers! Nonetheless, the thought can be intimidating. Many people are probably worried about how the two will get along.
Luckily, it does not take a lot to make sure that they will live in harmony! They might not get along during the first meeting, but with the right approach, they can be friends! Read on as we share some of the best things that you can do.
Know the Characteristics of Your Pets
While dogs make the best friends with humans, it is not always the case with other pets. Hence, you should be mindful of the characteristics of the dog that you have. If you have had your dog for a long time, we assume you already know its behaviors. It is more likely to coexist peacefully with reptiles if it is calm and gentle. The same thing is true when a dog is well-trained. Proper training can make a dog friendly.
As for the reptiles, you should also pick the right one. A tortoise is one of the best options, especially because most are gentle. Leopard, Mediterranean Spur-Thighed, and Red-Footed tortoises will make good options.
Meanwhile, if you want a pet turtle that will not be hostile toward dogs, a red-eared slider is one of the best options. It is sociable and friendly, so it is almost unlikely that you will have a problem.
If you opt for a lizard as your reptile, on the other hand, you cannot go wrong with a bearded dragon. While they can be territorial and dominant, such is only the case in males housed with other males. If it is in the same household as a dog, chances are, they will live peacefully.
Provide Space for Each Pet
While our goal is for the dog and reptile to live together peacefully, it does not mean that you will just leave them in the same area. Like humans, your pets need privacy. Hence, it is best if they stay in separate rooms or their individual spaces most of the time. Otherwise, there is a higher chance that they will not get along.
Give Your Dog a Crate
While putting a dog in a crate may seem controversial, experts agree that it can deliver many benefits when used correctly. Crate training is a good idea for most dogs. It will limit the dog’s access to the house, especially where the reptile is. It will minimize the chances that the dog will end up chewing random things it sees, including the stuff of your reptile.
It is crucial that you pick the right crate, making sure that your dog is comfortable. Plastic and wire are both good materials. Although, wire is a better option if you want better durability. The most important consideration is the size. The dog must have enough space to stand up and move around the crate. It is inhumane to keep a dog in a crate that is too small for an extended time.
However, even if the dog has a crate, it is still a good idea to put the pets in separate rooms. This way, they will feel that they have their respective spaces, preventing them from being territorial.
Provide an Enclosure for Your Reptile
The choice of an enclosure can vary, depending on the specific reptile that you will bring home. Instead of discussing every possible reptile, we’ll focus on one that is gentle enough and can feasibly live with dogs – the tortoise.
In the same way that your dogs need their home, your tortoise also needs its space. The goal is to create an enclosure that mimics their natural habitats. One of the best options is in an outdoor pen, especially if you live in a place with a climate similar to what tortoises are used to in the wild. Otherwise, if it is extremely hot or cold, they are better kept indoors where the living conditions are easier to control.
If you create a space for your tortoise outside the house, make sure that the enclosure is sturdy enough. According to www.reptileslife.com, tortoises are built like tanks and can burrow or climb out of their enclosures. The Sulcata tortoise can even bulldoze through garden furniture.
A glass tank or an aquarium is perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when housing a tortoise. Nonetheless, you might want to avoid that. Even large tanks can be too small for many tortoises. Worse, it may not have proper ventilation.
The best choice is a wooden tortoise table. It is a large box with generous floor space, providing the tortoise with the freedom to move around. The table has short wooden walls and an open top. You should also add accessories that will help you control the environment, such as UV lamps.
Take the Time to Train Your Pets
Proper training is also a must-have to create a harmonious relationship between dogs and reptiles. You won’t see results overnight, but with persistence, your efforts will be worth it!
Training Your Dog
While there are many approaches to teaching your furry pet the habits you want it to embody, one of the most effective is positive reinforcement training. It uses rewards to reinforce desired behaviors. This will be a powerful approach to changing the dog’s attitude, especially when it comes to dealing with reptiles.
When giving rewards, it is not just all about toys or treats. While the latter is effective, you should also learn how to use your words. Praising your dog for a job well done can go a long way in reinforcing the right behaviors.
One of the many things that you should teach your pooch is to stop barking when it sees a reptile. Teach your dog to sit and stay calm. This way, it will be easier to prevent aggression once a reptile is around.
Training Your Reptile
Unlike training dogs, training a reptile is more complicated. Many of them are not as smart as dogs. Hence, if you are keeping a dog and a reptile together in the same house, we suggest that you focus on training the dog.
One of the tricks that you can teach a reptile, especially a tortoise, is to come to you when it is called. This way, it will be easy for the reptile to get out of the area with your dog when you want them to separate. Take note that tortoises have poor hearing. However, they can recognize sound frequencies. So, use the same pitch and frequency in your voice when calling them so that it will be easily recognizable.
Recognize Stress Signals
As a responsible pet owner, you should be familiar with stress signals that the dog and reptile exhibit, especially when they are together in the same room. This will prevent further aggression. You can chime in before hostility takes over.
Hard barking is one of the most common stress signals in dogs. If they are incessantly barking upon seeing a reptile, take it as a sign that it is not comfortable with the presence of the latter. A hard stare is one more thing to watch out for.
Meanwhile, in reptiles, stress signals can exist in different forms. For instance, in a tortoise, a common sign of stress is when it is hiding. When it withdraws into the shell and is not protruding its legs and head, it is a sign that it is uncomfortable. When such happens in the presence of a dog, give the two time apart.
On the other hand, if you have a lizard, signs of stress include being agitated or having unusual movements like bobbing its head a lot. You may also notice it trying to get away, so take that as a signal that it doesn’t feel safe anymore.
Plan the First Meeting Accordingly
First impressions last, even in animals. While you should expect that the first meeting will not go well, you must be prepared. A good first step is to take both to the vet and have them checked. They can have diseases, which can be transferred to the other if you are not careful.
Once you are sure that they are both in a good state of health, it is time to plan their first date! Keep your pooch on a leash. This way, it is easier to pull it from the reptile once it becomes aggressive. The reptile, on the other hand, can be left roaming freely in its housing. If the dog barks or if it shows any aggression, it is best to let them meet another time when your furry pet is more relaxed.
The joy of having pets is incomparable. Nonetheless, it can also be stressful, especially when they do not get along. It is a nightmare to have a dog incessantly barking, turning hostile when it is with a reptile. It is a good thing that you can prevent such interactions.
Start by making sure that you have gentle breeds. Then, invest in building their respective spaces. Take the time to train and understand your pets, including their stress signals. The more you understand your pets, the easier it is to make sure that they will live in harmony.
About Kelsee Bodine Photography: Based in Rochester, New York, Kelsee specializes in portraits and wedding photography.
Amber Myers says
This is good to know. We only have a cat but we do have guinea pigs. She is used to them now but at first she kept wanting to pounce on them.
Great information. I’m going to pass this along to a friend with a dog who’s son is ready for a turtle!
The last photo is so adorable. Thanks for sharing these helpful tips.
It is always good to have some strategies to help pets adapt to one another. We have never had reptiles before and it would be interesting to see how our cats react.
Beautiful Touches says
That’s a beautiful beardy you have, but I couldn’t agree more!! These were very fair points and there cannot be enough stress put into the importance of making sure each pet has their own, safe space!
Tami Creates says
I have 2 dogs but I’ve been wanting a couple of turtles too, so this post is perfect! 🙂
Kathy L Myers says
We are a dog family and had to introduce them to our chickens. Once they realized they are part of our family, they don’t mess with them and pretty much let them do whatever they want!
This is one of the most interesting topics in pet parenting. Co-existing of dogs and reptiles is something I want to learn more.
If I get these right, I will be a happy pet parent when I can see my dog and lizard hanging out on the carpet.
My son has reptiles, dogs and cats and they all live happily together. Training is the thing to do for sure.
Ivan Carlo Jose says
This is helpful information. I never thought that dogs and reptiles could co-exist but then again, it’s doable.
Melanie Edjourian says
I’ve never had a reptile alongside other pets. I would love a bearded dragon. That might happen after we get a dog so this is useful info for me.
Hannah Bures says
My brother has reptiles and I have been so nervous for my dog to meet them! Animals can be so interesting.
Rose Ann Sales says
This is so interesting, I haven’t taught about this my son already has a Lizard and my daughter wanted to have a puppy!
Ryan Escat says
This is so amazing my kids would absolutely love their dog to have a reptile friend!
Monica Simpson says
We have a Russian tortoise and my dog just thinks it’s her play toy. She always tries to put him in her mouth!
For now, we have a dog that we love very much. It would be fun to have a reptile in the future!
Ruth Epstein says
Great post and I love tortoises. I have at an event introduced Layla to a tortoise and she was petrified LOL so that was the end of that. I would love to have another pet but have no space in my place so we are staying as only dog here.
Michelle & The Paw Pack says
Some good tips. IMO the best way to keep dogs and reptiles “together” is to ensure they each have their own space, so you can keep them separate. It’s horrible how many times I’ve heard stories of reptiles being attacked by dogs, sometimes even years after seemingly coexisting peacefully. I wouldn’t say tortoises and turtles are the best options for new reptiles keepers. Some tortoise species can outlive humans, get huge, and have very specific care needs that can be hard for someone new to reptiles to maintain. With turtles you have the added issue of keeping their water clean, which can be a task and a half. Tortoises and turtles are, sadly, some of the most neglected species kept as pets. Something like a leopard gecko, or small snake species IMO would be a better option for a first time reptile keeper.
Cathy Armato says
I’ve had many pets live in harmony together, but I don’t think I’ve had a reptile and a dog together. I agree that a turtle is a good choice, not only because they’re very docile but they also don’t move fast – fast movement often triggers a dog’s prey drive. They will also retreat into their hard shell if they feel threatened. Dogs with a low prey drive are definitely a better choice as a companion to a reptile!