Dogs and other Animals

Dogs and other Animals

The reason we love dogs so much is because they are so generous with their love.

Dogs are known to happily co-exist not only with humans but also with all their domestic pets such as cats, hamsters, pigs and more. In fact there are countless examples of dogs that have “adopted” unexpected animals of other species however strange it may be. It is usually characterised as an act of caring and devotion – a maternal love. A visit to YouTube and Google will provide you with many amazing examples. We need not be too surprised by this because, after all, loving and caring are two of the things that dogs do best.

Minette, our tabby cat, would follow the dogs when we went for a walk. On the way the dogs will be ready to chase other stray cats, but beware any dog that as much as looked at “their” cat. They will immediately take up a protective position ready to defend her if necessary. However, dogs differ in that Coyote would be a great help in finding and pointing out the baby tortoises for me when I wanted to mow or weed-eat the lawn. To Quanto, at first, they were “walking hamburgers” according to my vet who had to seal a damaged shell.    

Over many years of selective breeding, dogs have learnt to behave in a certain way. Terriers have been selected for their hunting skills and strong predatory drive. Border Collies with less predatory drive were used to assist in the care and management of livestock.  Rottweilers and German Shepherds as guard dogs while Spaniels and Toy Poodles were bred primarily for companionship.

When looking for a pet dog to share a home with the family cat, rabbits and chickens a highly predatory Jack Russell may not be such a good idea. A Bichon Frise will be much easier to adapt. If you ride horses and want a dog to accompany you on rides, a Dalmatian may be the right dog for you. They have the stamina to run long distances and seem to get along very well with horses.

Introducing a new pet

When puppies are exposed to other animals when they are still very young they will respond very well and regard them as part of their pack. They will then also more easily accept animals that may be added later. On the other hand, dogs that were not exposed to other animals when young will often treat them as prey.

Cats (See also Cats and Dogs in Problems on how to introduce them to each other.)

Dogs that grow up with kittens or young cats will become familiar with them and will play with them and often even sleep together. They do not regard them as prey and are known to mother orphaned kittens. Male dogs may also display affection to them.

If a puppy is introduced to adult cats that do not like dogs it is likely to get swift swats on the nose resulting in a healthy respect for them. The situation then arises that some cats will be avoided while others are chased. At present we experience it in that Polo will leave the room when Coco enters. She shows respect for Pepper, has made friends with Sparky and Harriette but Sage and Whiskey are likely to be chased.

Some dogs that do not have a strong predatory drive will be friendly with the cats in a household. Cats that stand their ground will not be chased but the moment they run the dogs’ predatory instinct of stalking, chasing, capturing and even killing kicks in. These dogs will not necessarily kill when they catch up to the cat. However, the ones with strong predatory drive will likely attack on sight whether the cat moves or not.

Once dogs have experienced the thrill of a kill in a pack situation it becomes extremely difficult to rehabilitate them. From experience we have seen how easily a cat can be killed when it strays into a group of powerful dogs playing excitedly.


Allowing dogs to be around horses is never a great idea even if they are well trained dogs and well trained horses. Yes, there are dogs that grew up around horses that did not cause real issues. From time to time one can observe someone on horseback with a dog running happily some distance behind. However, dogs can be very unpredictable and one can never assume that the horses will be ok with dogs being near them.

For dogs to be near horses there are some conditions that must apply: Horses MUST be dog friendly and they must not be spooked easily. Dogs must be trained to give space. A good distance of 3m/10 ft. should be maintained. No barking can be allowed and the owner must have 100% recall over the dogs especially since they can be inclined to go too fast or too far.

Anyone riding a horse near a loose dog needs to be an experienced rider wearing the right gear. Children should not be riding a horse around loose dogs or even leashed dogs that may startle the horses.   

Chickens, ducklings or goslings

Dogs can be taught to leave domestic hens or ducks alone, but it may be very difficult to stop them from chasing birds. Some dogs that have been brought up in a farming environment and have the right temperament, instinctively will accept most baby animals. This usually happens when puppies are introduced to chickens and the like at a young age.

When an 8 week old puppy is introduced to a batch of day old chicks and is allowed to smell them and to watch how they are being cared for, that puppy will not chase them. In fact chances are good that the chickens will follow the doggie as is goes about.  Always make the dog comfortable in the presence of chickens by staying with him. Use obedience commands to warn him if he misbehaves.

Before dogs chase anything they first stare at them. You have 2 seconds in which to say as I do, “Don’t think about it!” and my dogs will immediately look away and leave the animal alone. When you have voice control over your dogs, getting them to get along with chickens can be a lot easier. Sometimes a bond can develop quite unexpectedly between adult dogs and these animals.

Rabbits, Guinea pigs and birds

Adult dogs must always be on leash when they are being taught to accept rabbits, guinea pigs and birds. Start by getting the dog to become involved in their daily care.  The dog must be allowed to sniff at the cage and watch you clean it and when you feed the animals or birds. Place the dog in a down next to you and just let him observe them moving about inside their cage. Once the dog has accepted them, usually after a few days, they can be allowed to run free. Keep hold of the dog on a short leash and get him to relax. Allow him to sniff at the animals when they approach. React swiftly with voice control at any attempt of aggression such as snapping.  Repeat these sessions over the weeks until the dog shows signs of ignoring the animals. Now the leash can be extended to allow interaction away from you. The decision to leave them unsupervised will depend much on the dog and the safe getaway you have for the pets.

Dogs and Snakes

Although the majority of snakes are not poisonous and are harmless to people their bites can be painful and lead to infections.  All snakes have a valuable place in our ecosystem and many are quite helpful in that they hunt mice, rats and other small rodents. Also, snakes (and most other wildlife) are protected and you are not allowed to kill them unless they are about to cause harm to you, your animals or your property.

Puppies are at high risk for snake bite because they’re curious and try to play with them.

Best breeds to kill snakes

Almost all dog breeds have individual members that are good at killing snakes. However, to kill a venomous snake without being struck and not ending with a vet is what we can call a real “snake dog.” It requires speed and intelligence, that’s why terriers such as Jack Russell terriers, Airedale terriers and Fox Terriers are amongst the best snake dogs. They were bred to hunt rodents and are very good at sniffing them out and barking as a warning.

Teaching dogs to avoid snakes

Every dog is born with the ability to deal with adversity. They rely on instinct and speed of movement to cope. Farm dogs and many outside dogs are more likely to encounter snakes and many are hard wired to deal with snakes and know what to do or not to do.

To train a dog to avoid a snake you need a real snake (a rubber snake will not have the same effect). Get a snake catcher to supply a snake and put it on an open grass patch – snakes do not like to move about in the open for fear of bird attacks. Lead the dog, on leach, to approach and investigate the snake. When his instincts warn him of danger and he withdraws, immediately praise and reward him. Repeat a number of times. If the dog continues to want to move closer to the snake, say “Leave it” and run away and praise and reward the dog.

Symptoms of a snake bite

Vomiting, bleeding from the wound, trembling, salivating, dilated pupils, blood in urine, collapse, paralysis etc.

Important Guidelines

The most important points to remember when introducing dogs and puppies to other animals:

  • Dogs do not see other animals as we see them.
  • Do not be in a hurry. Introduce slowly and be very patient.
  • Have a clear idea of what you aim to do. What is the outcome you hope for?
  • Make all interactions positive for both animals.
  • Be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your dogs.
  • Dogs and other pets may change when you are not present.
  • Trying to introduce more than one dog at a time to other animals is NOT recommended.
  • Minimize potential risks by supervising as much as is possible.