Do you have a pet pooch and are now considering adding a feathered friend to the family? Or do you already have a pet parrot and want to add a furry friend to the mix?
While it is possible for dogs and parrots to live together in one household, there are some difficulties to consider before taking the big step. In most households, the natural rule of thumb is that parrots fall below dogs on the food chain. There are a number of ways to reduce the aggression or trauma that may come along with the addition of a new family member, but it will take patience and determination before your doggo and parrot are best buds.
So, can your feathered friend and pet pup get along under one roof? Ultimately, it is possible. However, the answer really depends on the time and space you have to supervise interactions.
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Signs Your Dog Is (or Isn't) Getting Along With Your Parrot
While your furry friend may eat out of a dinner bowl (or snoop for scraps under the kitchen table), dogs were once natural predators in the wild and may potentially view your pet bird as prey.
There are several behaviors you can observe in your dog to determine whether he or she can live successfully with a parrot. Remember that safety comes first, and it is important to observe your pup’s personality. Is he disinterested or curious, but easily distracted? Is he distracted with some difficulty, but with no predatory responses? Or is he not easily distracted and/or showing predatory behaviors? If your dog doesn’t exhibit a predatory response or if he can be easily distracted from the bird, then have no fear, training is possible!
It is critical to understand that some dogs may show little to no warning before moving in for an attack, so it is important to be active and attentive throughout the relationship-building process.
- Tense jaw
- Stiff tail
- Stalking the Parrot
- Acting Hyper Around the Bird
- Chasing the Parrot
- Crouching Near the Cage
History of Dogs Living With Parrots
Before domestication, dogs were natural predators. As descendants from wolves, dogs depended on hunting together in packs to fight for food. In the wild, parrots and other birds fall below dogs on the food chain. And while domesticated dogs have broken away from their ancestry for the love and care provided by humans, all domestic dogs continue to possess an innate prey drive to some extent.
Small animals, such as birds, are inherently prey. Some dog breeds, specifically those used for hunting or sporting, cannot be trusted with smaller animals. While more passive, companion breeds may be more compatible and less aggressive with small animals, they still possess the basic canine instinct to hunt.
Science Behind Dogs Living With Parrots
The activation of a dog’s prey drive is complicated and multiple factors come together to generate your dog’s behavior:
- Breed - Some breeds are more highly motivated to chase prey than others, such as Pointers or Spaniels
- Experience - Prior success is a reward that will instill tasting memories in your pooch that will make him want to hunt again
- Opportunity - The freedom to act in a prey-containing environment fuels the natural instinct to hunt
- Motivation - The aspect of internal processing that propels an animal into action
- Social Facilitation - The presence or absence of other pack members may encourage your dog to act on their natural instinct
Your domesticated pup is less equipped for hunting than their wild ancestors who don’t have humans to depend on for care and food. However, the prey drive continues to be preserved in all dogs to some extent. The bottom line is to really know your dog and to recognize predatory behavior when it’s present. Once predatory behavior has been recognized, you can proactively take whatever steps are necessary to prevent any mishaps.
Training a Dog to Live With Parrots
When dog and parrot introductions are done properly, your pet pooch may be able to interact safely with your bird and otherwise leave it alone.
Steps to Introducing Dogs and Parrots:
1. Slow but Steady Wins the Race!
Because most dogs have a natural instinct to hunt, it is very important to start slowly with introductions. Rushing interactions could lead to mistakes and accidents, so don’t stress if building the relationship requires a slow progression over a couple weeks.
2. Choose a Neutral Area
One thing that dogs and birds have in common is that they are both territorial with their surroundings. It is important to find a neutral ground for both your dog and the parrot for each session. For example, bring the bird’s cage away from its normal home-base to keep aggressive behaviors at a minimum.
3. Keep your Dog Leashed and your Bird Caged
Your bird should be secured in its cage at all times your dog is present, and your dog should always be leashed. It is important that these safety precautions are used when making introductions and until your pets are both comfortable with each other.
4. Reward your Pets for Good Behavior!
Who doesn’t love food?! Both birds and dogs love a good snack and are easily distracted and bribed with treats! Rewarding your pets with treats for good behavior is a great way to encourage a friendly relationship throughout each meeting. Make sure you are heavily stocked with treats before each training session.
5. Do Not Leave Them Together Unsupervised
After a couple of introductions, your pets will begin to grow accustomed to one another. It is okay to eventually take your dog off-leash, but continue to observe your dog’s behavior for predatory signs. The more energy your dog has pent up at the end of the day, the more likely he will irritate your bird. By giving your dog lots of attention with walks and games throughout the day, he will be more relaxed and passive at home.
Safety Tips for Dogs Living With Parrots
For your bird’s protection, do not allow him or her out of the cage while your pooch is present and never leave the animals in the same room together unsupervised. Risk reduction is key, and it is best to simply keep your bird inside of the cage while your dog is around to ensure a harmonious household.
Consider how fragile and sensitive birds are health-wise, and that there are certain viruses and bacteria that could be fatal that are transferred from other animals.
Parrots are extremely lovable birds and require lots of playtime with their owners to form a true bond. Having to constantly supervise a dog-bird relationship may adversely affect your ability to socialize with your bird, or your dog may feel neglected if you are spending more time with the bird.