Dogs are generally referred to as man’s best friend, but just how well can these seemingly lovable creatures get along with other kinds of animals? Unsurprisingly, dogs are known for living with all kinds of other animals and this includes small animals such as hedgehogs, Guinea pigs, and ferrets.
While dogs are much larger than hedgehogs, hedgehogs have a great defense mechanism in their quills. To ensure that your pets get along, it is important to watch all initial interactions and separate the animals should the need arise. If you do it properly, dogs can live with hedgehogs without incident.
Signs That Dogs Can Live With Hedgehogs
Dogs are known for being social creatures who live in packs. While it is fairly easy to get two dogs to coexist, does that translate over to other pets?
Dogs and cats are said to be sworn enemies, but we all know someone who has both a cat and a dog. Many people also have dogs with tons of other pets like rabbits, mice, hamsters, fish, and lizards. Owning a dog and a hedgehog should really be no different, but there are some characteristics of dogs that you will notice that show they can live with hedgehogs.
First, when you introduce dogs to unfamiliar creatures, they are typically curious, but gentle. A slow introduction to a hedgehog can lead to a great, unusual companionship. Second, hedgehogs have quills that they can use as a defense mechanism. Dogs can catch on to these pesky quills quickly and respect the distance necessary to coexist with a hedgehog.
While dogs are social creatures, hedgehogs are not, so be mindful of the needs of your hedgehog. Your dog needs to understand boundaries and you need to give your hedgehog some alone time.
History of Dogs Living With Hedgehogs
Ever since dogs have been pets, humans have needed them to live with other animals. Historically, dogs have made great working animals and pets because of their ability to live with other animals such as sheep and cows. Farmers and shepherds rely on dogs to help them with their work, and these dogs can’t kill or harm any of the other animals.
One major concern for owning a dog with a small animal, however, is that many dog breeds were bred to hunt small rodents and mammals. These breeds need to be closely monitored any time they are around small animals, due to their instincts, but all dog breeds can be trained to live well with other pets, which is clear when you see how dogs have been living with other species for hundreds of years.
Science Behind Dogs Living With Hedgehogs
Dogs are naturally social creatures, but they are also natural predators of small mammals. When it comes to introducing small creatures such as a hedgehog, it is important that you proceed with caution. Instincts in animals can be extremely strong, no matter how docile you believe that your dog is. You will want to make sure that you are present throughout the entire introduction process.
Humans think of dogs as friendly, but to small creatures, they can be quite terrifying. Not only are dogs much bigger than hedgehogs, but they can also crush them with their bodies or bite them and seriously injure them. While hedgehogs have a defense mechanism with their quills, they aren’t immune to bite wounds.
Hedgehogs are also likely to be afraid of dogs. The stress of meeting a dog may be too much for a hedgehog. Even the most docile dog can cause a lot of fear in small animals. It is important that your hedgehog isn’t put in a situation that can cause unnecessary stress. The hedgehog should also have a place where it is away from your dog if needed.
Training Dogs to Live With Hedgehogs
When training your dog to be around other animals, you should proceed with a lot of care. First, you will want to always have two people present during introductions. One of these people will need to be responsible for holding the hedgehog, while the other holds the dog. Making a slow introduction is a crucial part of the process, so you will want to start with your pets a few feet away from each other. Keeping your dog on a leash and held by one of the humans, you can slowly bring your pets closer and closer together.
If you have a dog with a ton of energy, you can try to tire them out before making the introduction. Go on a long walk or take a trip to the dog park. This is a perfect opportunity for someone to stay behind with the hedgehog to get it familiar with its new environment without any distractions or fearful encounters. During the exercise, you will want to make sure to push your dog to a point of being tired, otherwise, they may be too rambunctious to make a meeting happen safely.
By a Pomsky lover Chelsea Mies
Published: 02/28/2018, edited: 04/06/2020