Everyone wants their pets to get along, whether they have a hoard of cats, or a ragtag group of random animals. The first step to ensuring a civil household is introducing your animals to each other.
Dogs and reptiles are very different species, but they can both make great pets. Unfortunately, they sometimes have a hard time getting along. Additionally, not a lot of people know how to introduce them safely and effectively in the first place.
Introducing your dogs and reptiles correctly can have a lasting impact on how your animals behave around each other for the rest of their lives. Here are some common mistakes that pet owners make when introducing their dogs and reptiles for the first time.
1. NOT HAVING BARRIERS
Dogs and reptiles meeting is a tricky situation because there is so much variation between breeds and species. You can never predict how the scenario is going to go. The best way to start is a barrier.
Putting your animals on either side of a clear barrier, like a window, will allow them to see and interact with each other before introducing all the senses.
This is a great way to not only avoid overstimulating the animals but to ensure any bad behavior is stopped without the risk of anything really unfortunate happening.
2. GOING TOO FAST
It is so important that the animals be allowed to go at their own pace. Some dogs and reptiles will have no problem with each other. Their introduction may be a simple sniff and then they ignore each other forever. However, it may take other animals a lot longer, and that is completely okay.
If your reptile is rushed when meeting your dog, they may never learn to be calm around your dog. It can lead to them being constantly scared of the dog and not feeling comfortable anywhere, even in their own enclosure. Dogs can also be afraid of reptiles and may never want to be around the lizard or snake, and may even harm the other animal in fear.
Additionally, if dogs are rushed, it may lead to them hyper-fixating on the reptile. This can lead to an increased prey-drive when focused on your reptile which may get a lot worse before it ever gets better. It is best to cut this behavior off before it can ever get started by distracting your dog with treats and toys during a slow introduction.
3. HYPING YOUR DOG UP
People love to get their dog excited. And for good reason! It is so adorable!
Unfortunately, when introducing your dog to any other animal, especially a reptile, making your dog excited and hyper can do a lot more harm than good.
When your dog is excited and jumping around, they may seem like they are in a good mood. However, to your reptile, they are an intimidating threat that is imposing and fast.
Additionally, an excited dog is a dog that is more prone to following their instincts. This means that they are less likely to listen to commands and more likely to chase after a small animal. All of this can spell out trouble when trying to make a good first impression.
4. STRESSING OUT YOUR REPTILE
Reptiles are naturally scared of dogs, as dogs are predators. Some dogs, like terriers, were even bred to hunt small animals like rodents and lizards. This means that meeting a dog will likely be a hard thing for them.
Introduce your dog and reptile in an environment they are comfortable in. These areas are typically quiet and have less foot traffic. They also should be somewhere that isn’t often frequented by either animal. This way, it will be considered more neutral territory, calming both parties.
If your reptile seems overwhelmed or scared, give them a break. Taking things slow is the best way to help your animals get comfortable with each other.
5. NOT BEING PREPARED
As the saying goes, it is better to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Dogs and reptiles are what you would call ‘natural friends’. It is instinctual for dogs to see reptiles for dogs to see reptiles as prey. They may want to pounce on or chase your reptile.
Likewise, reptiles tend to be naturally fearful of dogs. Small lizards and snakes are likely to run away given the chance, while bigger reptiles may actually try and fight your dog.
It is important for you to be prepared for all of these reactions, and have a plan. Have your dog on a leash and be ready to distract them, should they try to chase your reptile around.
Keep your reptile in an enclosed space, where they can’t do anyone any harm and where they can’t run away. This way, nobody can get hurt out of fear or instinct.
It is unlikely that your dog and your snake will ever be the best of friends. However, that does not mean that they can’t exist civilly in the same home. Not only will this create a better environment for them, but it will also relieve some stress on you!
Once you introduce your animals to each other, you can feel happy that you’ve taken steps to ensure that everyone in your home will be safe. Of course, introductions are only the first step. Now, a whole new world has opened up to both your dog and your reptile, and you get to show it to them!