Is your child begging you for a chinchilla? You can’t blame them, chinchillas are perhaps one of the most adorable animals around. The thing is if you already own a dog keeping things civil between the two pets might be a little tricky.
Certain hunting breeds see animals in the rodent family as their prey and even if they don’t they’ll still definitely want to play with its new roomie. If it were just about any other animal that would be fine but chinchillas are notoriously skittish.
To help you with this problem, here are a few tips on how to introduce dogs to chinchillas without giving the little rodent a heart attack.
1. Give the Chinchilla a Little Time
Chinchillas are very skittish so when you first bring it home, keep it in the cage behind a closed door. If you go ahead and introduce it to the dog you’ll risk giving the little thing a heart attack.
Once you’ve given the chinchilla a little time to get used to its surroundings bring it out for very short periods of time to play with it. Keep it away from the dog but make sure the dog can see you playing with it so it knows that the chinchilla is friend, not foe.
2. Be Patient with the Dog
Again, some hunting breeds instinctually think of small rodents like chinchillas as prey. These dogs will need a little extra time to get used to having the little guy around. Be patient with the dog but do punish it for bad behavior.
Introduce the chinchilla to the dog while it’s still in the cage so they can sniff each other. Let the dog smell the new pet, the chinchilla hay, and anything else in the cage. Odor is very important during this stage.
3. Use the Cage as a Barrier
Never, repeat never let the two interact without a cage in between them when they are getting to know each other. This means that you don’t want to take the chinchilla in your hands and hold it up to the dog. It will panic because it’ll feel trapped.
Let the dog sniff the new pet behind the safety of the cage. Some calmer dog breeds may not have any interest in the chinchilla but others will be curious and want to sniff. Make sure you don’t hold it back from doing that.
4. Praise the Dog for Good Behavior
When the dog just calmly sniffs the chinchilla or lays beside the cage to keep it company, reward that good behavior with treats and pets. This is important because if you only interact with the dog when it’s being bad, it will begin to associate you with the bad behavior and continue to act out when you’re around for the attention.
This isn’t even the worst thing that could happen. It may start to associate the chinchilla with getting popped or yelled at and become aggressive towards it. So, if you aren’t careful the two will never be able to coexist.
5. Address the Dog When it Misbehaves
Even with keeping the above in mind, it’s, of course, okay to punish the dog if it starts to get a little too hyper or aggressive with the chinchilla. If the dog starts to try and stick its nose in the cage, swat at, or for more intelligent breeds, open the cage, make sure to use an aggressive tone of voice to let it know you mean business.
You can also use a rolled up piece of paper and swat the dog or isolate the dog and put it in puppy timeout.
6. Keep the Chinchilla Behind a Locked Door When You Aren’t Home
You have no way of knowing how the two animals will interact when you aren’t around. It’s for this reason that you want to keep the chinchilla in your room with the door shut. If your dog has a habit of getting nosey and opening doors while you’re not home, you need to make sure the chinchilla cage is up somewhere high where it can’t be disturbed.
To this end, make sure the chinchilla is securely in its cage. Don’t let it roam around the room when you aren’t home.
7. Don’t Let The Dog Physically Play with it
Most dog breeds are a lot larger than a chinchilla so you don’t want to let the dog play with it. While the dog may have nothing but pure intentions in mind, it could accidentally hurt it because of the size difference.
If your dog is a calmer breed and mainly wants to lick or snuggle with the chinchilla this is a different story. Then you can absolutely allow this once they get to know each other. It all really depends on the behavior of the dog.
8. Don’t Keep the Chinchilla Completely Off Limits
Curiosity killed the dog. If you try and keep the chinchilla completely off limits your dog will want to venture into the unknown and see what all the fuss is about. This curiosity may cause the dog to go toward it when you’re not paying attention.
Instead of keeping the dog completely away from the chinchilla, just follow regular training steps.
How to Introduce Dogs to Chinchillas the Right Way
When you’re bringing a chinchilla into your home, it’s very important that you introduce them to your dog in the correct way. They need time to sniff and get to know each other or it will be the start of a spoiled relationship. Use these tips on how to introduce dogs to chinchillas to help their first impression of each other be a good one.
Chinchillas are cute little rodents but some… aren’t quite as adorable. Here are a few tips on how to get rid of the critters you don’t want to introduce to your dog.