Do you love animals and want to keep more than one species? So you might already have a dog and want to get a (new) guinea pig (or vice versa), and you’re wondering whether your dogs and guinea pigs would get along?
Dogs and guinea pigs can get along, but it all depends on several very important factors such as their age, environment, and nature (breed).
Some pet owners have managed to make their pets of different species get along. Those are wonderful stories published on the covers of magazines, which just tell us that such close friendships are more an exception than a rule. Yet, that also tells us that cross-species friendships between two animals are possible, albeit rare.
What Should I Know About Dogs? (For Guinea Pig Owners)
If you’re just planning to become a new dog parent, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. They are social creatures that need companionship, exercise, and a proper diet. And they are fascinating.
Dogs need to be around other dogs or people. They crave attention and love, and if they don’t get it from you, they may turn to destructive behaviors.
Dogs also need plenty of exercises. A good walk or run every day is necessary for their physical and mental health. And finally, dogs need a proper diet. Dog food should be high in protein and low in fillers like corn or wheat. It’s also important to avoid giving your dog table scraps as this can lead to obesity.
By following these simple tips, you can make sure that your dog is healthy and happy.
- Dogs need exercise.
Dogs are active creatures and need regular exercise to stay healthy and happy. A daily walk or run is a great way to give your dog the physical activity they need, and it’s also a great opportunity for bonding time between you and your furry friend.
- Dogs need mental stimulation.
In addition to physical exercise, dogs also need mental stimulation to stay sharp. Try teaching your dog new tricks, playing interactive games together, or providing them with food-dispensing toys to keep their minds challenged and engaged.
- Dogs need proper nutrition.
Just like people, dogs need proper nutrition to function at their best. Be sure to feed your dog high-quality food that is appropriate for their age, breed, and activity level. Talk to your veterinarian about what type of food is best for your dog.
- Dogs need socialization.
Dogs are social creatures and need regular interaction with people and other animals to thrive. If you’re not able to provide your dog with enough socialization opportunities, consider enrolling them in a dog daycare or puppy class.
- Dogs need love and attention.
Last but not least, dogs need love and attention from their owners. Show your dog how much you care by spending quality time together, offering plenty of affection, and being there for them when they need you.
What Should I Know About Guinea Pigs? (For Dog Owners)
Guinea pigs are social animals that thrive in pairs or small groups. They require plenty of space to run and play, as well as toys and activities to keep them entertained.
Guinea pigs are also extremely sensitive animals. Any sudden movement or noise can frighten guinea pigs. This can lead to health issues, so it is critical that they have a routine and that their home is safe and secure.
If you are thinking about getting a guinea pig, or if you already have one and want to add another, here are some things you should know:
1. Guinea pigs require plenty of space.
A pair of guinea pigs should be at least 7 square feet (2 square meters) in size, but bigger is always better.
2. Guinea pigs need activity.
To keep them entertained, they require a variety of toys and enrichment activities. Tunnels, a hidey-hole, chewing toys, and balls to play with are examples of such items.
3. Piggies are fragile and sensitive.
Guinea pigs are extremely sensitive to changes in their environment and can easily become stressed. Maintain as much consistency as possible in your guinea pig’s environment by following a feeding, cleaning, and exercise routine.
4. Guinea pigs are social.
These small animals thrive in pairs or small groups. If you have more than one guinea pig, make sure they have plenty of space and can see and interact with one another.
5. Guinea pigs require a high-fiber diet to stay healthy.
A healthy guinea pig diet should include mostly hay, fresh vegetables, and a few pellets. Because they are prone to a variety of health issues due to incorrect diet and lack of hygiene, it is critical to take your guinea pigs to the vet for regular check-ups. While you can never overfeed a guinea pig with hay or leafy greens, it’s easy to give them too much of other foods they love.
Respiratory infections, parasites, dental issues, and obesity are all common problems in guinea pigs.
How To Introduce Dogs and Guinea Pigs?
One important factor in the friendship between two animals of different species is your dog’s age. Puppies under the age of 16 weeks are still developing social skills and are more likely to accept another animal as a friend rather than potential prey.
Furthermore, dog breeds with a strong hunting drive may have a more difficult time seeing a guinea pig as a friend rather than something to chase and attack.
Working in stages is the key to a successful introduction process of your dog and a guinea pig.
Can Dogs and Guinea Pigs Interact? How to Introduce Them?
1. Allow your dog to observe you setting up your guinea pig’s cage in a safe, separate room. But do not allow the animals to see each other for several days.
Spending time near the closed door will allow your dog to pick up on the guinea pig’s scent. If your dog starts to become aggressive, do not scold him; instead, distract him with a toy or a treat. If your dog can stay calm, that’s a good sign.
2. Another good way to familiarize the animals is to share the scent with a washcloth.
If your dog appears nervous or uneasy, distract him but do not scold him. To encourage him to associate good things with the guinea pig, keep all reinforcement positive. Even if your dog stays calm, and appears to be accepting and relaxed, you should keep him leashed and under control until you are completely satisfied with his behavior toward your guinea pig.
Under no circumstances should you leave the animals alone without supervision, as a larger dog may inadvertently injure the smaller animal while playing.
If you are unsure, the safest option is to keep your guinea pig in a secure room and divide your time between your pets.
A guinea pig is more of a natural lunch for a dog than a natural friend, and the guinea pig is probably aware of this. Although you can train a dog to be gentle around guinea pigs, and they do occasionally get along, you should never give him unsupervised access. Do whatever you can to keep your guinea pigs safe.
How To Keep a Guinea Pig Safe?
Replace your guinea pig cage with a sturdy pet-proof cage. Some guinea pig cages are flimsy, and while they are adequate for containing guinea pigs, they cannot keep other, larger pets out. A determined dog or even a cat could break in, frightening your guinea pigs.
3. If you don’t already have one, add a large nesting box to the cage. Guinea pigs require a safe place to hide to feel secure, which is especially important in a home with dogs.
Install a pet gate to keep your dog out of the guinea pig room when you are not present. Alternatively, simply keep the door shut.
4. Allow your dog to spend short periods in the same room as the guinea pigs. Keep them contained within their cage. It is best to spend these sessions with your dog’s attention on you.
Request that he sit and maintain eye contact, or that he performs a trick that requires his complete attention. This is known as guinea pig training.
5. Let the guinea pigs out of their cage when the dog is not present, partly to teach them that this is their territory.
6. Carefully introduce the animals.
Bring the dog into the guinea pig room, attract his attention by calling his name, and let the most confident guinea pig out. If the guinea pig refuses to come out or the dog shows too much predatory interest, stop the introduction right away by removing the dog.
Remember that they do not have to become best friends. It may be easier to keep them apart in the long run.
Is a Guinea Pig Safe Around a Dog?
Your guinea pigs may get along with your other pets, such as dogs or cats, but I would never leave a guinea pig alone with another pet, not even for a minute. Cats and dogs are both predators that would hunt small rodents in the wild.
For that reason, it’s best not to risk introducing your piggy to a cat. Also, instead of asking questions such as “will a dog hurt a guinea pig” or “do dogs kill guinea pigs,” play it safe. Keep your guinea pigs safe and don’t let animals interact.
Dogs have a natural hunting instinct, which is why it is not safe to keep them with your piggies. Some dog breeds were specifically bred to hunt small animals, and they may be inclined to hurt your guinea pig.
Some dogs would just want to play with your guinea pigs but they are much larger and much stronger than your piggies. A guinea pig is very fragile so even a friendly punch on its back could cause a serious or even lethal injury.
A dog’s instincts may suddenly kick in, especially if the guinea pig makes a squeaky noise or begins to flee. If you are present, a cat or dog may know not to respond in that manner, but the moment you leave, it could be a disaster.
Even if you are present, a cat or dog may suddenly scratch, bite, or pounce, at which point it is too late to intervene.
Can Dogs and Guinea Pigs Be Friends?
You might have introduced your pets and the introduction process between the two went without any problems. Your dog and guinea pig accepted each other, which makes you happy. However, the dog is likely much larger than your guinea pig. Besides, dogs are predators. In contrast, guinea pigs are small and helpless prey animals.
For that reason, it is impossible to imagine a happy and safe relationship developing between your dog and guinea pig unless you introduce them while the dog is still a puppy.
In another scenario, your dog is very gentle and maternal and your guinea pigs are still very young.
Some pet owners have managed to make their dogs and guinea pigs get along, and some even live together in the same house thinking they belong to the same species.
But even then it is not recommended to leave them together without any supervision or other safety measures. Breeds with strong prey drives would almost certainly consider guinea pigs to be lunch or appetizers.
The best is to keep your piggies in the guinea pig cage and let them roam free under your supervision when the dog is not around.
Whether a dog and a guinea pig can get along depends on several factors, such as the age of your dog, its size, and nature. Although two animals of different species can be friends, it’s best not to risk the life of the smaller, helpless animal.
As a pet owner of both piggies and dogs, you should never leave your guinea pigs alone with your dogs or other animals. Spend time with them with your piggies safe in their cage. Remember that some dogs were bred to hunt small rodents in the wild.
Keep your piggie safe in their cage and never leave them running around free unsupervised.
Remember that it takes only a split a second before a peaceful moment turns into a full-time war and no peace, as an encounter between piggies and large predators can end fatally.