Dogs are highly social creatures and they tend to do fairly well when living in multi-dog households, but does that translate with other pets, too? Many people want to have both a dog and a gerbil, but may be hesitant due to their dog’s hunting instincts and large size when compared to the small rodent. Can dog owners successfully bring a gerbil into their homes?
We don’t see why not! Many dog owners have been successful in this area. It may take a little training and time getting to know each other, but it is possible for dogs and gerbils to live under one roof.
Signs Dogs Can Live With Gerbils
As highly social creatures, dogs have lived with all kinds of different animals since they were domesticated. While some dogs were trained to herd and watch over sheep, others were taught to hunt and kill small rodents. Unfortunately, this is instinctual for many dog breeds, so introducing your dog to a rodent can be challenging, but that doesn’t mean that your dog can’t co-exist with a gerbil after a little training.
Dogs are typically gentle and friendly, so you can use training methods to teach your dog how you expect them to behave with your gerbil. In some cases, your dog may not even need this training, but take all the precautions just in case your dog reacts differently than you expect.
If your dog isn’t friendly, it might be best to keep them away from any small animals, including gerbils. It is important that you keep the safety of the gerbil in your mind at all times, and introducing this size of an animal to an aggressive or unfriendly dog can have disastrous consequences.
History of Dogs Living with Gerbils
Historically, dogs were often used to hunt small rodents like gerbils. Mice were common problems for houses and barns, so dogs and cats were used to get rid of these little pests. That means that, instinctively, dogs are going to see rodents and other small animals as prey. It doesn’t, however, mean that it is impossible for dogs and gerbils to co-exist.
The biggest struggle for owners of both rodents and dogs is going to be getting the animals familiar with one another. Your dog is going to scare the gerbil, and the gerbil is going to make those hunting instincts kick in, so you will just need to be patient and careful during the introduction process. It will also help if you don’t leave the two alone together - ever. This will prevent any possibility of harm for the gerbil.
Many people own both rodents and dogs with no issues. It isn’t always easy, but it is possible for the animals to live together and some even form unlikely friendships. Browsing through social media websites will prove that many people own rodents and dogs, and in some cases, they have quite unique friendships. If you want to have both in your home, just be careful and cautious at all times.
Science Behind Dogs Being Able to Live With Gerbils
Social and friendly, dogs make great pets. Rodents are also great pets because they are easy to handle and cute. Combining the two in one household can be difficult, however, as dogs have instincts to hunt small creatures (and gerbils are small!). It can be scary to think about what could happen if you aren’t careful. As long as you supervise contact between the two animals, they are likely to live together in peace.
Gerbils may be frightened by your dog, however, so be considerate of the gerbil’s need for alone time and safety. If your gerbil tries to run away or starts shaking, end the contact with the dog.
Training Dogs to Live With Gerbils
You can train your dog to do all kinds of crazy things, and training them to co-exist with small rodents, such as gerbils, is also a possibility. If you are considering adding a gerbil to your home, here are a few tips for training the two to live in peace.
First, you will want to slowly introduce the two animals. During this process, keep your dog on a leash and place the gerbil in a ball. This makes it impossible for the dog to bite or step on the gerbil, and you will also have control over the dog with the leash. With two people, start out a few feet away from each other and let the dog see that there is something there. Slowly move the leashed dog closer to the gerbil, secured safely in its ball.
During the meeting process, keep treats on you. See if you can get your dog to focus on you and do basic commands. Reward your dog for good, calm behavior and then continue to move closer to the gerbil. If your dog stays calm, you can keep advancing. If your dog starts to get too excited or agitated, take a step back. If your dog can’t get close to the gerbil without these behaviors, try again on a different day and keep the two animals separated.
If your dog can stay calm, then give them more space on the leash or allow them to wander the room while supervised. Keep the gerbil with a second person throughout this part of the process, too. If the two seem at ease with each other, let them move freely under close supervision.
Written by a Pomsky lover Chelsea Mies
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 03/19/2018, edited: 04/06/2020