Pet Parenting: Does dog + guinea pig = bad idea?

Dear Denise,

My daughter really wants a guinea pig, but we have an inside dog and I’m afraid he might want to eat the newest member of our family if we let her get one. Do you have any advice on how the two animals can get along peacefully or do you think it’s a bad idea?

Dear Mama:

Guinea pigs make really good pets for kids. They are friendly, pretty easy to care for, and their chirps and noises are a great welcome to anyone walking into the room. However, if your dog thinks they are crunchy and taste like chicken, that could be a disaster.

You need to evaluate your dog’s ‘prey drive.’ This is his instinct/desire to chase things. Some dogs have a stronger drive than others.

How does your dog feel about cats? If you are on a walk and he sees one in someone’s yard, what is his reaction and can you control it? Does your dog have manners, does he know ‘leave-it?’ These are just a few things to ask yourself before making this jump.

If you decide this is something you want to try, I’d start by making sure the pig’s cage is in-accessible to the dog. If you think you can trust your dog not to have a fit, then you may consider setting the cage in the floor, first without the pig, then with the pig, for him to investigate. Of course, this needs to be supervised, and unless you think your dog is just simply ‘bomb proof,’ I wouldn’t ever let the dog and the pig out together.

If the pig is running around your daughter’s room, the door should be closed. Even if the pig is inside an exercise ball, one good swat from a dog paw could hurt him.

If you exercise caution, there are few reasons this wouldn’t work. If cats and caged birds can live together, so can guinea pigs and dogs.

~Denise

Denise Holmes is a pet behavior counselor with over 25 years of experience. She focuses on family pet training and animal-assisted therapy.  She has consulted with Arkansas Children’s Hospital, helped set up a variety of local programs and produced a CD to help expecting parents introduce the family pet to a newborn, www.LoveTrustTeach.com.

P.S. from the mamas: There are so many adorable kittens and cats at the Fayetteville Animal Shelter right now. We stopped by yesterday and saw this little fella named Dirk (pictured below). He’s only two months old and is so playful. The animal shelter also has kitties available for adoption at the Fayetteville PetsMart if you’d rather stop by there. xox

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