Have a much-loved dog but hankering after a second pet? You need to know what other creatures would make a suitable addition to your furry family.
The good news is that there are plenty of potential pets that Fido will get along with. The key to making the right choice is understanding your dog’s temperament, specifically his prey drive. Also, remember that 6.5 million animals go into shelters in the U.S.A. every year, according to reports by RestedPaws.co.uk, so a new addition to your family needs to be well considered.
Understanding the Canine Prey Drive
All canines have an instinctual prey drive, which is a basic survival behavior. The prey drive essentially manifests in five different ways:
- Biting to grab
- Biting to kill
The prey drive presents itself differently in each dog breed. For example, herding dogs have a strong instinct to chase, whereas terriers were bred to flush out and kill rats and other small prey such as foxes and rabbits. Other dogs are pretty happy to express their prey drive by shaking a toy or chasing a ball.
When choosing a second pet, you must understand your dog’s prey drive. So, if you own a retired greyhound, you can’t keep a cat or rabbit, as your hound is almost guaranteed to chase anything small and furry that runs away!
Unfortunately, some dogs, regardless of breed, can be feisty or aggressive. That behavior might manifest only when your pooch is around other dogs, or it could be directed toward any stranger entering the house.
That character trait doesn’t mean you can’t have a second pet. It just means that you’ll need to choose it carefully.
Caged Pet Etiquette
Although caged pets such as birds, rodents, and fish are a safe choice if you have a dog that tends to chase, these creatures can become highly stressed if they bark at them or hassle them. If that happens, you might need to keep the cage or aquarium in a room that your dog doesn’t have access to.
So, what other pets get along with dogs?
One pet that’s almost guaranteed to get along with the family dog is your good ol’ goldfish!
Fish are trendy pets, accounting for 11.5% of pets owned by U.S. families. Although a small amount of maintenance is required to keep the water clean and safe for the fish, you don’t need to worry about exercising, grooming, or licensing your fish. And there are no veterinary bills to pay either.
If your dog enjoys socializing and playing with other pups at the dog park, you might want to consider becoming a multi-dog household.
Dogs often form a close bond that’s heartwarming to see. If you have two dogs that get along, they will keep each other company and prevent the separation anxiety that can happen when one dog has left home alone while you go to the store or work.
Interestingly, the A.S.P.C.A. recommends that you choose a dog of a similar size and opposite gender to your existing pet.
If your dog doesn’t have a strong chase prey drive, he might get along with a cat.
Many shelters have cats rehoming known to be dog-friendly and won’t be fazed by a friendly pup sniffing them. A chilled-out older cat is usually the best option, as Kitty is less likely to run and trigger a response in your dog.
Again, if you have a friendly, easygoing dog, rabbits can make suitable pets that kids love. Here we stress the plural, as rabbits are highly social animals that you should never keep alone.
A word of warning: dog breeds such as terriers, whippets, lurchers, greyhounds should not be kept with rabbits. If your dog likes to chase squirrels in the park, rabbits are not a pet’s good choice.
Again, if your dog is a chilled-out dude who wouldn’t dream of chasing anything, guinea pigs can make good pets.
However, if you have a large, boisterous dog, always closely supervise proceedings when the housemates are together.
Ferrets can make a quirky fun pet that can get along with dogs. These high-energy creatures can make wonderful playmates for a lively pup, and they seem to be a good fit for herding breeds, as you can see in this charming video.
However, if you have a lazy dog, he might quickly become fed up with a super-charged ferret that wants to play 24/7.
Birds can make a good choice of pet, as they are kept well out of your dog’s reach in a cage for most of the time.
If you have your birds free-flying around your house, always supervise your dog closely to make sure no accidents happen.
If you have a rural property with plenty of outside space, you might want to take on a rescue farm animal such as a goat, mini pig, or sheep.
Dogs generally get along fine with these kinds of animals and can form quite a bond, but a cloven foot can do a lot of damage to tender paws, so we advise close supervision in case your dog gets stepped on.
Hamsters, Gerbils, Mice, and Rats
When you get your rodents out of the cage for some playtime in their run, it’s best to shut your dog out of the room; the attention of a curious dog might prove stressful for a tiny mouse.
Dogs and horses can get along exceptionally well. Often, the family dog can accompany horse and rider on trail rides, which is great for very active outdoorsy dog breeds such as Border Collies, German Shepherds, and the like.
That said, horses are large animals that can cause serious injury if the dog gets stepped on or kicked. So, never leave your dog unattended around horses, especially when the horse is tied up or in his stall.
No matter what breed of dog you own, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy welcoming another pet into your home. The species of pet you choose will largely depend on your dog’s temperament and the nature and strength of Fido’s prey drive. Choose your pet wisely, and there’s no reason why everyone can’t live in harmony.
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