We are reader supported, we earn a small commission when you buy something using our retail links.

How To Introduce Your Dog To Small Pets?

At A Glance

Pet lovers must know about the best way to introduce dogs to new animals brought into the home. It is vital to maintain peace and ensure positive experiences for all animals-it won’t do to have one pet mortally afraid of another.

Critical steps in a potentially fraught pet introduction process include:

  • Assessing your dog’s temperament and creating a comfortable environment for both animals
  • Using controlled exposure and supervising all instances of direct contact to maintain long-term peace

Last Updated on: Oct 20, 2023

It’s a tricky dance, figuring out how to introduce your dog to small pets.

“Hello Jade, meet…” Before you can even finish the sentence, Ruff, your dog, is halfway across the room in pursuit of Jade, your new rabbit. Unfortunately, Ruff’s excited energy is no match for Jade’s calm temperament, and suddenly, you have a big problem.

If you’re in this boat and you’ve brought home a chirpy guinea pig, an agile ferret, or another small domesticated animal, there’s an exciting journey ahead. Likely one with plenty of woofs, squeaks, and maybe a bark-filled ruckus or two.

The introduction process demands patience from owners and a mutual understanding and shared respect for the animals’ individual spaces.

This guide will help you through introducing dogs to smaller animals and establishing healthy bonds for all pets in your home.

The Importance of Pet Introduction

We’ve all seen viral videos of dogs cuddling with cats and bonding with various species of tiny or exotic animals. They make it seem easy, but the truth is that introducing dogs to any other animal can be pretty challenging.

Dogs have natural predatory instincts, and they perceive smaller animals as prey. They will investigate or go after them most, if not all, of the time.

To avoid a showdown in your home, you must be very deliberate and mindful of all pet interactions from the beginning. Think of it like directing a blockbuster movie, and you have two actors to keep in line.

Step-By-Step Guide To Introducing Your Dog To Small Pets

how to introduce dogs - step-by-step guide to introducing your dog to small pets

Step 1: Assess Your Dog’s Temperament

Taking your dog, Ruff, for a casual stroll or to a pet-friendly hangout spot can be quite an eye-opener. Observe his reactions around other animals: is he cool as a cucumber, or does the sight of a squirrel send him into a frenzy? Note any signs of aggression or excessive excitement-these are cues for how he will likely react to smaller animals when you bring them home.

Engage him in simple exercises like the “leave it” command. You can also introduce him to a stuffed animal. Consider it a red flag if Ruff treats the stuffed animal like a prop in an action scene.

If initial signs aren’t encouraging, it might be time to call in the professionals. A bit of behavioral training could ensure the intro with your new rabbit, Jade, goes off without a hitch.

Step 2: Prepare The Environment

puppy and rabbit

Opt for territory that’s new to both Ruff and Jade, a place where neither has staked a claim. If you’re indoors, choose a room that neither frequents. A fenced-in area could serve as the perfect meet-cute spot for an outdoor rendezvous.

Before the big meet, ensure both stars are relaxed and comfy. A well-fed cast is a happy one, so make sure they’ve had their meals to avoid any hangry encounters. Have leashes, treats, and separate “green rooms” (aka high-quality cages or holding spaces) on standby. If the scene goes off-script, being able to separate the actors quickly is crucial.

Step 3: Use Controlled Exposure

The premiere scene? Short and sweet, with Ruff and Jade keeping their distance like star-crossed lovers. The smaller animal should be kept in a cage or secure enclosure-ideally, one with spaces where it can hide. Then, let Ruff saunter in on a leash. This way, they can eyeball each other without the risk of World War 3 erupting.

Monitor Ruff’s body language closely. Is he wagging his tail excitedly, or are his hackles raised in a “let me at him!” gesture? On the other side of the stage, is Jade facing Ruff head-on, or is she cowering in a hidden corner?

If the debut scene goes well and both stars seem at ease, allow Ruff to approach Jade’s enclosure. Maintain a tight leash on the situation. Praise Ruff for his stellar performance and reward his calm and friendly behavior.

Gradually extend the time of their interactions over the coming days and weeks. Don’t let them interact alone or let Jade out of her cage.

Step 4: Supervise Direct Contact

dog licking the guinea pig

Leash your leading dog-star, and let him gently explore the world of Jade while you hold the reins-literally. Shower your stars with treats and praises for their Oscar-worthy interactions.

But what if the scene takes a tense turn with signs of stress, fear, or aggression from Jade or Ruff? Well, it’s time to yell “cut!” then part ways and return to the controlled exposure stage later.

Keep this supervised gig going for a good while before you let your stars improvise without a script.

Step 5: Maintain Peaceful Interactions

The supervised scenes may have rolled out like a red carpet, but keeping the peace between Ruff and Jade requires continuous effort. Watch for any signs of stress, discomfort, or a brewing battle.

Household rules are the scripts for harmonious coexistence. Designate separate dining spots or set clear boundaries, ensuring each star knows their mark. Also, keep the action rolling with regular playtimes or exercise sessions with Ruff to keep him physically and mentally ready for his role as a good companion.

And if you notice the camaraderie fading into the background, don’t hesitate to call for a rerun of the earlier steps.

Well, now you’ve got the scoop on how to introduce your dog to small pets. If the first take doesn’t pan out, no worries-the second, third, and tenth takes are part of the process.

Revisit the steps, and keep the patience rolling. With a bit of effort, your stars might just bring the magic.


General how to introduce your dog to small pets

Previous Article

5 Adorable Custom Dog Gifts for Dog Owners this Christmas


I am a full-time mum of two kids and a beautiful golden retriever. Writing is my passion: from food journalism to pets, parenting tips, etc. I can write on just about everything under the sun. I have been writing for the past 7 years and during that time, I have been a regular contributor to several blogs and pet magazines. I have also written feature articles, POV pieces, and dabbled in a few different formats of writing over the years.