Do Guinea Pigs Get Along with Dogs? (Can They Play Together?)

We’ve all heard the phrase “dogs are a man’s best friend,” but do they get along with other animals? What happens if you have a guinea pig and a dog? Will they be friends? Do guinea pigs get along with dogs? 

Guinea pigs can get along with dogs if the dog has a compatible personality, has been appropriately trained, and is carefully supervised. Certain breeds are more likely to work with guinea pigs than others. Any dog with a medium to high prey drive should not interact with guinea pigs. Only confident and outgoing guinea pigs should interact with dogs to avoid stress in timid guinea pigs.

Guinea pigs can sometimes get along with dogs depending on their personality and temperament, but they should always be supervised. Keep reading to learn more about what dogs get along the best with guinea pigs and how to safely introduce them to each other.

Can Dogs Hurt Guinea Pigs?

Dogs are loving creatures, but they are a lot bigger and stronger than guinea pigs making it easy for them to hurt a small animal, intentionally or accidentally. 

When dogs get excited, they often jump, nip, or climb over whatever is exciting them, which can be a considerable danger to your guinea pig. If your dog gets excited, he could accidentally trample your guinea pig. 

Dogs are overwhelmingly larger and stronger than guinea pigs, so before you introduce them, evaluate the dog’s personality and temperament and provide proper training to prevent injuries to your piggy.

If you have a prey-driven or hyper dog, placing them with a guinea pig is asking for a disaster. Driven or energetic dogs could see your guinea pig as prey and attempt to chase or kill them. Only allow calm, trained, low prey drive dogs to interact with guinea pigs after a slow introduction.

Regardless, all dogs need proper training to get along with guinea pigs, and they should never play together unsupervised. 

What Dogs Are Good with Guinea Pigs? 

While individual traits are important, your dog’s breed can provide a lot of insight into whether they may be successful with guinea pigs. It’s crucial to look at the background of the breed or mixes that make up your dog and what they were originally bred to do.

For example, some breeds were created to chase and hunt rodents. Obviously, this would not be a good breed of dog to interact with your guinea pig! Any dogs bred to hunt or chase are not good choices to play with a guinea pig.

Whereas, dogs bred for retrieving or companionship are not usually as inclined to chase and kill small animals. However, there are always exceptions and it’s important to assess your dog’s personality on an individual level.

Terriers, among others, were uniquely bred to hunt and kill rodents. Here is a list of breeds that were bred to hunt or chase and should not be left around guinea pigs: 

  • Terriers
  • Dachshunds
  • Beagles
  • Foxhounds
  • Greyhounds
  • Many spaniels
  • Pointers
  • Herding breeds were bred to chase and may be triggered by small animals moving

It is important to note that this isn’t to say these breeds won’t get along with your guinea pig. Every dog is different, but it’s important to know the traits that have been bred into your dog and know that it significantly decreases the odds that they will work out successfully with guinea pigs.

Some of the best breeds to pair with your guinea pig are dogs with low prey drive and calm temperaments, such as:

  • Labradors
  • Golden retrievers
  • Bulldogs – depending on the individual as some can be more prey-driven
  • Maltese
  • Bichons
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Papillons
  • Chihuahuas
  • Pomeranians

These aren’t the only dogs that could get along with your guinea pig, but their temperament is typically a better match for guinea pigs than other dog breeds. 

The most important thing to note is that even small dogs are much stronger and bigger than guinea pigs and can hurt them easily. So supervision and careful introductions are paramount with any interactions involving dogs and guinea pigs.

While breeds play a significant role, you know your dog best, and it is up to your judgment of their personality and temperament whether or not to introduce them to your guinea pig.

Signs Your Dog Can Live with A Guinea Pig

If you still aren’t sure whether your dog would get along with your guinea pig, there are a few more ways to tell if your dog can interact safely with a guinea pig. 

Consider your dog’s breed first and foremost. Were they bred to hunt or to herd sheep and cattle? Do they have strong hunting instincts, or are they more laid-back around other animals?

Personality is a key factor as well. Do they have a calm energy or are they anxious and hyper? Even a dog with a low prey drive can accidentally hurt guinea pigs if they are too boisterous. Guinea pigs are also easily spooked by barking, so if your dog is overly vocal, it’s best not to subject your guinea pig to that.

Also, objectively consider your dog’s current level of training. Do they have good impulse control? A strong leave it cue? Do they lie down and stay reliably with distractions? Teaching your dog how to behave around your guinea pig is crucial to keep your piggy safe. If your dog is not trained to the level you would like, it’s best to hold off on any introductions for the time being.

You can also observe your dog’s reaction from a distance to determine if they can interact with small animals. If they are overly interested, barking, intensely staring, or tensing around your guinea pig’s cage, do not attempt to put them together.

If you notice any of the following behaviors in your dog, especially around other animals, it’s best to keep them away from your guinea pig and never introduce them:

  • Growling
  • Barking
  • Staring
  • Stalking
  • Chasing
  • Crouching
  • Hyperactivity

These behaviors are all signs that your dog could be aggressive towards your guinea pig and potentially chase or attack them. It only takes an instant for a dog to kill a guinea pig, so if there are any doubts in your mind, do not chance an interaction.

It’s also important to observe your guinea pig’s behavior for any signs of stress or fear. 

A happy guinea pig squeaks, popcorns, and zooms around to explore, but if you notice the following behaviors, your guinea pig may be stressed or upset.

Signs of a scared or agitated guinea pig: 

If you notice that your guinea pig is tense or showing signs of distress around your dog, remove them immediately and place them back in their enclosure.

How Do You Introduce a Guinea Pig To A Dog? 

Introducing your guinea pig to a larger and stronger animal can be extremely stressful for them. If you think your dog has the right personality to be friends with your piggie, then be sure to introduce them properly. 

Patience is key, and it will take time for them to get used to each other’s presence. 

First, you will need to introduce your guinea pig and dog by their scents. Give something that smells like the other animal, such as a towel or a toy, to the other animal. Allow them to get accustomed to the smell before introducing them face to face. 

After a few days, you can start the face-to-face interaction. You will need the following items for a proper introduction: 

  • Dog leash
  • Treats
  • Guinea pig cage

Put your dog on a leash, and start with your guinea pig safely enclosed in their cage. This will allow you to control your dog and keep them from getting too excited about the guinea pig.

Give your dog a few minutes to sniff the cage and offer lots of treats for calm behavior. You can offer your guinea pig some veggies to encourage them to come out and investigate as well.

Repeat this over several days if you need to until your dog is calm around the cage and your guinea pig is not fearful of the dog. If your dog is too intense even through the cage, don’t proceed with introductions outside the cage.

Guinea pigs are often nervous around predatory animals like cats and dogs, so if they are not comfortable around your dog, don’t push them to interact.

Once you’ve reached a point where your dog and guinea pig are both calm, you can begin slowly introducing them in a controlled way.

Start again with your dog on a leash. It’s best to have two people; one to hold the dog and one to hold the guinea pig. Holding the leash, have someone else walk slowly into the room with the guinea pig. Ask your dog to sit and give them a treat. 

If you notice that your dog has already noticed the guinea pig and wants to get closer without following your instructions, you need to wait until your dog is calm and relaxed again before you get closer. 

Move slowly towards the guinea pig on the leash as long as your dog is calm. Reward positive, calm behavior. If your dog gets too pent-up or excited, step away from the guinea pig and try again on a different day. 

Once your dog has come closer to your guinea pig, allow your dog to wander around the guinea pig in the other person’s arms while maintaining hold of the leash. If they get jumpy or excited, move them away again until they are calmer.

If they both remain calm, the other person can sit on a couch or chair so the dog can investigate a bit closer. Keep a close eye on your dog and guinea pig’s behavior and ensure there is no stress from your guinea pig or tension from the dog.

Have your dog lie down near the guinea pig so they are not hovering over or jumping around and spooking the guinea pig. Be sure to provide lots of praise and treats throughout the encounter.

Repeat this process over several days until your guinea pig and dog are both calm and happy in each other’s presence. Slowly you can begin to give them more freedom to sniff and investigate each other as long as your dog is calm and friendly around the guinea pig.

However, it’s best to have someone hold the guinea pig or keep them close to you on a couch so the dog isn’t tempted to chase or follow them if they start running around. Guinea pigs do not play in the same way as a dog, so it’s best to encourage calm interactions between the two.

Remember, never leave your guinea pig and dog unsupervised and if you see any signs of tension or stress, separate your dog and guinea pig right away. Never allow your dog to fixate on your guinea pig or get excited and jumpy in their presence to ensure your guinea pig stays safe at all times.

Final Thoughts

Both guinea pigs and dogs are social animals that can get along in some cases, but it all depends on the personality, breed, and training of the dog. Remember to introduce them slowly, monitor them for any signs of stress, and NEVER leave them unsupervised. This way, dogs can be man’s best friend and your guinea pigs’ too!

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