Whether you already have a dog and you are considering a pet bird, or you already have a bird and are considering a pet dog, it will take a bit of work to integrate them into the same household. While it can be a challenge to train dogs and birds to get along, it is possible as long as you are patient and always make provisions for the safety of each animal.
Introduce Your Pets Slowly
Dogs, like cats, are predators in the wild, and most will naturally view a bird as prey that should be pursued and conquered. Even if your dog is timid with a less prominent prey drive than others, the instinct to hunt a bird will always be present.
Start at a very slow pace when introducing your dog to your bird. Bring them into contact with each other several times, for only a few minutes, over the course of a couple of weeks. The goal is that they will eventually become comfortable together, and you can start increasing their time socializing. Definitely don't try to rush it, as haste could possibly lead to a stressful or traumatic experience or potentially serious accidents.
Choose a Neutral Area
When you first introduce your dog to your bird, choose a neutral area that neither animal will consider its territory. For birds, this will be a room where their cage is not normally located, and preferably a space where they spend little time. Getting the animals out of familiar surroundings will help reduce the chances of aggressive behavior and make them more agreeable in general.
Reward the Animals
One thing that dogs and birds have in common is that they're both often pretty easy to distract and bribe with food. Offering them plenty of tasty treats can be a great way to reward each of them for good behavior during the introductory phase of their relationship. Be sure to have plenty of treats for each animal on hand before beginning your sessions with them.
After several sessions of bringing the bird and dog into the same room together and helping them get accustomed to one another, you can begin to allow your dog to be off-leash in the area as long as it continues to behave and not harass the bird. However, for your bird's protection, never allow it out of the cage while the dog is present, and never leave the animals in the same room together unsupervised. Accidents can always happen, even with the most well-trained and trustworthy canines. The best way to reduce the risk for your pets is to simply keep your bird inside the cage while the dog is around.
Problems and Proofing Behavior
It's important to recognize that the difficulty of this process will be quite different depending on the breed and age of your dog. If your dog is a puppy, the training and introduction are going to take more consistency and time. Also, if your dog has a strong hunting instinct, it will take more effort to introduce it to your bird. Keep these factors in mind as you begin the acclimation process, but don't get discouraged. As long as you put in the effort, most pets will eventually figure out how to live amicably in the same space.
Mistakes to Avoid
To two avoid problems and get the two pets off on the right foot, steer clear of two common missteps when introducing your dog to your pet bird:
- Do not have either animal loose in the room during your pets' meeting. Make sure that your bird is placed securely inside of its cage at all times when the dog is present, and always keep your dog leashed. Failure to restrain either animal can result in disaster if one decides to charge at the other. Until you've established that they're both comfortable, keep them confined.
- Make sure your bird is in an appropriately sized birdcage and that the door is secure. Also, place your bird's cage in a spot where your dog will not be able to jump up and reach it.