Senses

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5 min read

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Can Dogs Live with Birds?

Senses

|

5 min read

|

Can Dogs Live with Birds?

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 coexist with your beloved pooch, and oftentimes, that means becoming the proud parent 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 birdies living together in peaceful harmony. But how do you go about this co-mingling of species?

We've constructed the perfect, go-to guide for humans with feather and furbabies, including tips and tricks on how to make sure your pup and your bird get along, and signs that they should be kept separated. 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! 


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How to tell if you can have a dog and bird in the same house

The key to keeping your pets living harmoniously in the same space is by staying in tune with each of their individual needs while trying to work out any issues they might have. While neither of your animals can really communicate verbally with you, they're both likely giving you plenty of signs that they're agitated, stressed, or not getting along with their sibling. 

When it comes to your dog, notice if they're 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 their tail, standing the hairs on their back straight up, and sending a lot of verbal cues to your bird such whining, barking, and panting, it's probably unrealistic to expect the two to coexist. 

Drooling a lot is also a sign that the predatory instinct is at work in your doggo's head, so you'll want to keep an eye on their movements. If you notice quick or sudden darts toward your bird or the cage, it's probably best to keep your animals away from each other. 

The signs may vary depending on your dog's personality. Some dogs will view birds as prey, while others will ignore them. Moreover, a small dog and a large bird may get along better than a large dog and a small bird. 


Body Language

<p>Your dog could be giving off predatory vibes without you even realizing it. Make sure that before you allow your dog and bird to interact, your dog hasn't exhibited any of the following signs:</p>

  • Growling
  • Barking
  • Panting
  • Jumping Up
  • Scratching
  • Pacing
  • Drooling
  • Lips Pushed Forward
  • Pupils Dilated
  • Ears Up

Other Signs

<p>Keep a lookout for other signs as well. Your dog might be mistaking your bird for prey if they do any of the following:</p>

  • Intently Focusing
  • Calculating Their Steps
  • Hair On Back Standing Up
  • Stiff Tail
  • Darting And Jabbing Toward Your Bird
  • Crouching
  • Ears Pinned Back
  • Stalking

Are dogs harmful to birds? The historical relationship between birds and dogs

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Birds and dogs are subject to their natural order, and typically, that natural order has the dog higher up on the food chain and the bird as prey. It's unnatural for a dog to leave a bird alone, so some dogs may find it difficult to befriend a bird and treat them with mutual respect. 

That's because all dogs are descended from wolves. And although man's best friend was domesticated thousands of years ago, with their behavior and appearance changing in the process, they still possess the prey drive of their ancestors to some extent. Some breeds have stronger prey drives, such as the Afghan Hound, Beagle, and Jack Russell Terrier. Then there are breeds that were created to hunt birds, including the Golden Retriever, English Springer Spaniel, and Vizsla. 

While you can train your dog to respect your bird's boundaries and try not to eat them, that doesn't mean your dog isn't subject to their natural instincts. As a predator, your dog will always have an inherent desire to chase or hunt prey, which in this case is your bird. Therefore, there is always a potential hazard when having a dog and a bird under one roof, and precautions must be taken. 

And even when a dog has been trained to get along with a bird, there's still a possibility of the bigger, stronger canine accidentally hurting their smaller, more fragile avian sibling during friendly interactions. 


Will my dog eat my bird? The science behind bird and dog interactions

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We're so used to playing and cuddling with our dogs that it's easy to forget they're natural predators. 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. Predators are organisms that consume other organisms to stay alive. As mentioned earlier, dogs are descended from wolves, who are apex predators, and they still retain some of these primal hunting instincts despite being domesticated. 

In addition, predators have certain features that help them catch their dinner - sharp teeth, claws, speed, and keen senses of hearing and smell. Your dog, as adorable as they may be, was built to hunt and feed off prey. When given the chance, most dogs will attack smaller animals, and unfortunately, that includes birds. 


Should I get a bird if I have a dog? Training your dog and bird to coexist

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

Start slowly when introducing your animals and let them get 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 keep each other from their territory. 

Speaking of territory, make sure your bird's housing is secure and out of your dog's reach. You may also want to set up an exercise pen or dog gate around the birdcage to keep your dog at a safe distance. Reward your dog for displaying calm behavior around your bird, such as sit or stay. 

Giving your pup opportunities to burn off energy throughout the day will also make them more relaxed and more likely to leave your bird alone. Redirect their focus away from your bird with walks, games of fetch, and interactive toys. 

Above all, even with all the training, never leave your bird and dog unsupervised together. While they might behave around you, it's important to remember their natural dynamic - either one of them could easily slip back into their natural state! And as mentioned previously, even a friendly dog can accidentally injure a bird while playing with them. Never leave your bird alone with your dog, no matter how well they interact with each other when you're around.


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Written by a Great Dane lover Hanna Marcus

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 02/20/2018, edited: 09/27/2022

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