Dogs are great pets. And so are guinea pigs. Both together may defy the laws of nature, but there are ways they can get along.
If your dog is barking at your guinea pig there may be several reasons other than the obvious that this is happening.
Tt is important to be able to distinguish, to know if you can keep both pets in the same household.
Why Do Dogs Bark At Guinea Pigs?
Quite simply dogs are predators by nature and are bred to hunt, this is despite being domesticated.
Some breeds are specifically tuned in to hunting rodent-like creatures like guinea pigs.
If you have bigger dogs it might be more challenging to acclimatize them to the guinea pig.
And for smaller dogs, it might be easier, but for both, a huge factor is the dog having been exposed to small creatures as a pup and having social skills.
When a dog barks, the first instinct is not always aggressive, it might be curiosity, warning, or a strange change.
To avoid or stop this, here are a few tips to use.
How To Stop This From Happening?
1. Do not jump the gun
Do not just introduce the guinea pig to the dog, just like that.
It can end up a disaster. The dog would react, and the guinea pig could get startled.
If they are both loose, it would be a live-action slapstick comedy movie.
It is better to have the guinea pig in its cage for safety and the dog on a leash.
But still, the first introduction should be eased into.
2. Desensitisation and introduction
As with all new things it is better to introduce the dog gradually.
The dog must get used to the scent of the guinea pig, then the sight from a distance before closer contact.
A positive reaction (any reaction other than negative) should be rewarded and reinforced so your dog knows he should not hurt this creature.
3. Keep the Guinea Pig safe
Even if your two pets seem to get along, at no point should they be left alone.
Dogs can play rough and their teeth on a soft squishy guinea pig may not end well, even if it was all in light play.
When you want to play with the guinea pig out of the cage, the dog should not be in the room.
And it is safest to have the guinea pig in its enclosure whenever your dog is in the room.
The enclosure should be top-notch so dogs cannot get to it.
4. Know the signs
You would know if it is going well when your dog is calm, but if he is anything other than relaxed you should be ready to remove your dog or guinea pig from the situation.
You might not know when your dog is in hunting mode as his instincts kick in, so here are a few things to look out for:
- Panting and raised ears
- Smelling and tail wagging
While training your dog to be around your guinea pig you could add on distractions to keep your dog from focusing on the guinea pig’s presence.
Use his favorite toy, go for walks, or agility park workouts.
A tired, happy dog will not have time to be curious about a guinea pig.
6. Get Help If Necessary
If the whole process of training and desensitization is too much for you to undertake, or is not working as you want it to, you would need the help of a behavior consultant.
They could help with this process.
7. Puppy socialization
If your dog is a puppy then it is prime socialization time, and exposure to small animals is crucial for his development.
Especially as a pet that is going to be around other adults, children, and other small animals you might adopt.
8. Rehome, if all else fails
If your dog does not change after some time, and your guinea pig is still stressed by the dog, keeping them apart permanently is necessary.
But you do not know how long, and it might be stressful to you to always make sure they are never in each other’s presence.
It might be a better resolution to rehome one of the pets.
You would need the patience to see if the processes work in getting your dog used to your guinea pig.
It takes a while depending on how dedicated you are to it, and how much you have trained your dog previously.
Have hope, there are lots of families with dogs and guinea pigs living together in harmony.
And if you are lucky, they may be able to physically touch or play with each other, with supervision of course.