Dogs and birds can get along, but it can be challenging to train both your dog and your bird to play nice. Let’s discuss some of the ins and outs of introducing your dog and bird.
Slow and Steady Introductions
Dogs and birds naturally shouldn’t get along. In the wild, a dog is a predator and a bird is prey. Predators are animals that get at least a portion of their diet from killing other animals. Prey is, unfortunately, the animal that is killed and eaten by a predator. Because dogs would naturally hunt birds in the wild, it’s very important to take your time introducing them. A well-trained dog can be taught to do so much, and interacting with a bird can be a learned behavior. You just need to make sure you train your dog to be safe with your bird, and you have to maintain that training.
In the beginning, make sure you slowly introduce your pets. It’s best to keep your bird in their cage. Your dog should also be on a leash. Doing this will give you maximum control over the situation and keep everyone safe.
Let your dog meet your bird in a neutral space. If your bird will have their own room, be sure you move their cage to a common area when introducing the two. Likewise, you shouldn’t bring the bird into your dog’s territory. Giving one pet the upper hand by doing introductions in their territory can cause friction between the two. Dogs and birds have great memories of unpleasant things, so you don’t want to put their future relationship at risk.
Reward Your Pets for Playing Nice
When your pets behave well, be sure to reward them. You want to ensure they know the kind of behavior you expect of them and positive reinforcement is going to be your best bet. You should also train your dog with a command to leave your bird alone. Simply training them with the word “no” can go a long way in keeping some distance between them. Again, when your dog listens to your “no” command, be sure to reward them. You need to make sure your dog completely understands when you expect from them and those good things come from listening to you.
Supervise Every Interaction
You’ll be supervising their meetings for the first few weeks while both your pets get accustomed to each other. It’s also very important that you constantly supervise them. Your dog might be perfectly trained when you’re in the room, but there’s no knowing what can happen once you walk away. It doesn’t take much for your dog’s prey drive to kick in, and you need to make sure you are available to help them suppress that. Remember, it’s not natural for a dog and bird to live in harmony. The best you can hope for might be for your dog to be disinterested in your bird.
Dogs with High Prey Drive Struggle with Birds
While dogs and birds can get along well enough in the same household, coexisting might be very difficult for some dogs. Biologically, birds are prey. Many cats or dogs would love to hunt a nearby bird. This is because their instincts tell them to do so. Today’s dogs have been domesticated, but they came from wolves. A wolf spends most of its time trying to find another animal to eat. That instinct still lies with your dog – especially in hunting breeds.
Even if your dog loves spending time snoozing on the couch and nibbling on kibble, they can still have a strong prey drive. That might mean a relationship with a bird could end in disaster. When you take your dog out for walks, do they stop to stalk other animals? Do they try to bolt toward anything that moves? If this describes your dog, adding a bird to your home might not be the best idea.
Tips for Introducing Your Dog to Your Bird
Not every dog will be able to live with a bird, but many can. If you think your dog is up to the challenge, here are a few tips to help your pets become the best of friends.
- Keep interactions manageable – Be sure to keep your dog on a leash so it will be easy for you to step in if need be. Your bird should also be caged during these interactions.
- Watch body language – Because your dog can possibly harm your bird, it’s important to watch their body language closely. If your dog is growling, barking, or panting, it’s probably a good time to end the training session. Likewise, if they start drooling or if their ears perk up, training should be over.
- Make time for all pets – Introducing two pets can be stressful. It’s also easy to get caught up with the task at hand. Just make sure that you are dividing your time equally between your pets. It’s not very fair to keep your bird caged up all day because your dog is trying to hunt them. Your dog may also get jealous if you’re spending too much time with your bird.
Training a dog and a bird to live together may be difficult, but it isn’t impossible. With focused training sessions, you will be taking active steps to ensure a safe and happy cohabitation. Even if your dog’s prey drive is strong, you might consider joining a local bird club if you still feel like you want to have time with a pet bird.