Can Dogs Live with Birds?

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Introduction

If you're a dog lover, you're probably an overall animal lover, too. Paws, claws, wings, beaks, wet noses, tails, feathers - whatever it is, you probably love it. Because of that love, it's not unlikely that you'll want to have other pets that co-exist with your beloved pooch, and oftentimes, that means the proud ownership of the winged little lovebugs we call birds. 

Birds are great pets, and so are dogs, but can they coexist happily? 

Of course, they can! As different as the two can be, there are plenty of cases of doggos and bird-brains living together in peaceful harmony. But how do we go about this?

If you want some tips and tricks on how to make sure your pup and your bird are getting along, or want to look for some signs that you might want to keep them separated, read on! We've constructed the perfect, go-to guide for mutual bird-dog owners. Read on to better understand what makes your animals tick, what their issues could be, and how to implement a few ways to help them get along better! 

Signs That your Dog and Your Bird Aren't Getting Along

The key to keeping your pets in a harmonious living space is staying in tune with each of their individual needs and trying to work out any issues they might have. While neither of your animals can really communicate verbally with you (yes, we know birds can talk, but they can't communicate like people do), they're likely both giving you plenty of signs that they're agitated, stressed, or not getting along with their animal counterpart. 

As far as your doggo goes, look out for signs that your dog is crouching and stalking your bird. Your sweet pup is just that, but don't forget that dogs are animals led by predatory instincts. If you feel like your dog is spending too much time skulking around the birdcage, crouching low and watching your bird's every move, stiffening his tail, standing the hairs on his back straight up, and sending a lot of verbal cues at the bird - whining, barking, panting, etc. - it's probably not a good idea to let the two co-exist. 

If you notice that your dog is drooling a lot near your bird, this is also a sign that the instinctual, predator-prey relationship is at work in your doggo's head. Keep an eye on your dog's movements, too. If you notice quick or sudden jabs or darts toward your bird or his cage, it's probably best to keep your animals away from each other. 

Body Language

Your dog could be giving off predatory vibes without you even realizing it. Make sure that before you put your dog and bird in a situation where they are interacting that he hasn't exhibited any of the following signs:
  • Ears up
  • Pupils dilated
  • Drooling
  • Lips pushed forward
  • Pacing
  • Scratching
  • Jumping up
  • Panting
  • Barking
  • Growling

Other Signs

Keep a look out for other signs as well. Your dog might be mistaking your bird for prey if he does any of these following cues:
  • Intently Focusing
  • Calculating Their Steps
  • Hair on Back Standing Up
  • Stiff Tail
  • Darting and Jabbing Toward Your Bird
  • Crouching
  • Ears Pinned Back
  • Stalking

The Historic Relationship Between Birds and Dogs

Birds and dogs are subject to their natural order, and typically, that natural order has the dog at the top of the food chain and leaves your bird as prey. It's unnatural for a dog or a cat to leave a bird alone, much less befriend and treat it with a mutual respect. 

While you can train your dog to respect the bird's boundaries and not try to eat it, that doesn't mean your dog isn't subject to his natural instincts. There are always inherent dangers when combining a dog with a bird under one roof, and precautions must be taken. While you can certainly train your dog and your bird to get along, we always advise that you remember the natural order of things. Your dog, a predator, will always have an inherent instinct to hunt his prey, in this case, your bird.

The Science Behind Bird and Dog Interactions

To understand your dog's feelings and inclinations toward your bird, it's probably best to try to get a firm grasp on the dynamics of predation. A predator, your dog, is an organism that eats another organism to stay alive. Dogs come from wolves, some of the fiercest predators in the wild, and though we've bred them to be docile and domestic, part of that inclination still lives within them. 

Predators have special body parts and functions that help them with their mission - think about your dog, he has sharp teeth, claws, and can move quickly. He's a hunting machine! He is designed to feed off prey - smaller animals that are part of the predator's environment in the wild. Your dog is driven by natural impulses to kill his prey for food - and unfortunately, that prey includes your bird.

How to Train Your Dog and Bird to Coexist

When it comes to working on your dog and bird's relationship, it's important to make sure that your animals are introduced properly. Dogs are predators in the wild, so it's important to remember that the two animals coexisting isn't a natural occurrence. 

Start slowly when introducing your animals and make sure they are getting used to each other bit by bit. Bring them into contact with each other ever so slightly over the first few weeks so they can get comfortable with each other. 

For a while, keep your dog leashed and your bird caged, then reward them for good behavior as they learn to mingle together successfully. Make sure when they share space, it's in a neutral environment. Don't give one animal an edge over the other so that they don't feel like they have to protect each other from their territory. 

Most of all, never leave the animals unsupervised together. While they might behave around you, it's important to remember their natural dynamic - either of them could easily slip back into their natural state! Never leave them alone, no matter how well they interact with each other when you're around.

How to React if Your Dog and Bird Don't Get Along

  • Keep them in separate areas.
  • Never leave them alone.
  • Introduce them slowly and with a lot of restraints.
  • Keep your dog leashed and your bird in his cage when they have to be around each other.
  • Any of their interactions should be in a neutral area.
  • Train your pup to listen when you say "no!" so that he knows to leave your bird alone.