Can Dogs Live with Lizards?

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Introduction

It is not often we see reptiles and dogs paired together in a friendly duo, but it is something quite remarkable when we do. As much as we would like for all pets living under our roof to live in harmony, sometimes that simply cannot be. If you are a dog owner and a lizard aficionado, you have got to find a balance between the two species. 

Are the glaring differences between dogs and lizards impossible to get beyond, or is it possible for dogs to warm up to their cold-blooded cohabitants? In this article, we explore whether dogs can live with lizards.

Signs & Body Language to Look for When Dogs and Lizards are Together

When a dog is introduced to a new animal, particularly those that are new members of the household, they can exhibit a variety of body language depending on Fido’s curiosity and sensitivity. The most common signs to look for when assessing whether a dog and lizard can live under the same roof are sniffing and cautious licking, though licking should be highly discouraged.  

If a dog is excited by the lizard, they may nudge it with their nose or paw if the lizard is not contained. If the lizard is contained, the dog may look into the tank or plainly ignore it after giving it a good sniff. It is not recommended to let the dog get close enough to a pet lizard to show some of these signs. Some body language to be wary of like whining or barking can signal a long road ahead in the dog’s adjustment to the lizard.

A dog’s temperament can be impactful in deciding whether keeping a lizard will be possible in your home, particularly with dogs known for destructive tendencies. There is absolutely no way a lizard can be brought into the home if the dog is unable to leave the habitat in peace. If a dog maintains an overbearing interest in the habitat, that fixation may result in a tragic accident. Ultimately, the best signs to look for when bringing a lizard into the home is no sign at all of the dog taking notice.  

Body Language

Here are some signs to watch for after bringing a lizard into the home:
  • Barking
  • Whining
  • Sniffing
  • Licking

Other Signs

Some other cues to note are:
  • Nudging
  • Crouching
  • Stalking
  • Chasing

History of Dogs and Lizards

The keeping of lizards as domestic pets has been somewhat of a recent development. Many assume these creatures are easy to care for because they are kept in a tank all day, and prefer little to no human interaction. There has even been much debate over whether it is humane to keep lizards, and reptiles more generally, as pets because of the near impossibility of providing a habitat that feels natural.  

Responsible reptile ownership takes a lot of work because of this high sensitivity to environment, and dogs play a large factor in creating an environment that is secure. A history between dogs and lizards kept as domestic pets is sparse, to say the least.  Dogs have never been used to track lizards, nor are lizards ever the top of lists for a dog’s ideal creature to give chase to for fun.

News coverage of success stories featuring dog and lizard friendships are difficult to come by, but that is not to say they are not out there. Unfortunately, there is a history of dogs getting quite sick from eating lizards either in the wild or domestically. Lizards are known to carry several strains of bacteria that can be harmful to both humans and dogs.

Science of Dog and Lizard Interaction

The science behind determining whether dogs can live with lizards rests on conceptions of instinct and sense of smell. Dogs are highly sensitive to new smells, and housing a reptile is sure to introduce many of those. This ability to memorize familiar scents can be critical in a dog’s ability to acclimate to the presence of a lizard in the home.  

A dog’s instinct need also be noted, especially in considering a dog’s proclivity to eat small creatures. It could be said that lizards should never be kept in the same households as dogs because the instinct to eat small animals, like lizards, may be impossible to overcome. 

There is little research about how dogs conceive of lizards, or science to support whether dogs behave differently due to the unique scent produced by them.

Training Dogs to Live with Lizards

To train a dog to live with a lizard, a dog must have an existing set of commands down like sit, stay, and come. Positive reinforcement through vocal affirmation or treats is always recommended to further cement these commands throughout the dog’s life. Having these commands locked down contributes to a pet owner’s control over establishing a secure environment for the lizard, as they are not responsive to similar commands.  

Aggressive behaviors like growling or barking at the lizard need to be immediately reprimanded through stern commands. Again, the most optimal situation for a household looking to add a lizard to their family is no response at all. Positioning yourself as a neutral broker between the two creatures in their initial reaction to one another, rather than making it an excitable experience, can help ease the dog through the transition.  

Some safety tips to be aware of when deciding whether a dog can live with a lizard are as follows. Place the lizard’s tank in a neutral area of the house. If a dog feels that their space has been intruded upon, they may be more likely to cause problems.  

Additionally, the lizard should be positioned out of reach from the dog to prevent any possible accidents. Pet owners should also be wary of the different communicable diseases lizards can carry in allowing interactions between dogs and lizards. The two should never be left alone with each other, especially considering the disproportionate size of the two.

Safety Tips for Having a Lizard and a Dog

  • Place the tank out of reach.
  • Never leave the two alone together.
  • Keep your dog away from anything the lizard has touched.