Dogs and reptiles are a very unusual combination and they should never make physical contact with one another. But while cats might spend a long time watching the tank, hence while some people call their reptile enclosures “Cat TVs”, dogs usually get uninterested very fast.
An uninterested dog is the key to keeping both dogs and reptiles in your home successfully. And if you get a reptile that needs to be taken out of its cage, you will have to have some serious training sessions with your dog. It all can be done if the dog is docile and you have the patience.
In this article, we’ll talk about the relationship between dogs and reptiles and what you can do to make them accept each other.
Can dogs and reptiles live together?
The best way to keep a dog and a reptile in the same house is if the reptile is being kept in a completely different room than the dogs can roam into. More than that, the enclosure should be placed somewhere higher so the dog will have a hard time reaching it.
The problem with dogs and reptiles living together is the dog’s curiosity or territorial nature. And while curiosity can be solved by slowly introducing your dog to the reptile, the territorial nature is harder to beat. The most recommended thing to do is to place the enclosure in a room where the dog doesn’t spend much time in. But even then, it may not work.
If the lizard makes out of its tank, there’s a serious chance that the dog will eat it. This is because of the dog’s natural instinct of eating smaller things. The least the dog will do is sniff and lick the reptile, which can turn into a serious fight if you have a Tokay gecko or an iguana as these reptiles are very aggressive.
Another very serious problem with dogs licking reptiles is that the reptiles contain bacteria that can be extremely harmful to them and even humans. This is why it’s very important to wash your hands before and after each time you’re handling the reptile. And more than that, never let the reptile roam in your bed, especially on your pillows where you put your face on at night.
Some dogs can eat reptiles and have absolutely no secondary effects, while other dogs can get extremely sick, very fast, and even die until you get to the vet. You should not even attempt to get a lizard or a dog if you can’t keep the two completely separated from each other.
If you have a larger home, it’s highly recommended to keep the reptile’s enclosure on the floor on which the dog doesn’t spend much time. And even then, you should place it in a room with a secure door that the dog doesn’t know how to open.
How do you train a dog, to live with a lizard?
Regardless of how obedient your dog is, the moment you leave home it will start on a quest to do everything you said it shouldn’t do. This is why you can finish his training today and come back to the house turned upside down tomorrow. They’re extremely curious creatures and they almost never mean any harm but they still manage to get themselves in the funniest situations.
Reptiles are just as entertaining to observe and if the dog has gotten a serious interest in the reptile, it will do anything it can to get to it. This is why serious training should be done so the dog can at least follow your commands when you’re around.
If you want to teach your dog to stay away from the vivarium, it’s best if it already knows its basic commands. This includes “come”, “go”, “sit”, “down”, and “stop barking”. If your dog listens to these commands, making it keep its distance from the reptile will be a lot easier. And when you’re going away from home, make sure to lock the door you keep your reptile in.
You will have to introduce the dog to the reptile from the moment you brought it home in its tank. You need to let it sniff the tank and check the new creature out and then start its training. Take the dog with you every time you’re checking the vivarium and do a simple training session in which you teach the dog to not get too close to the tank, not lick the tank, and definitely to not bark at the reptile.
It might take a lot of time as the dog probably never saw a reptile before and its curiosity might drove it to do stupid things. This is why you should absolutely never leave the dog alone in the same room as the tank. And if your reptile requires daily garden walks, you should keep a very close eye on the dog and keep teaching it what is right and what is wrong.
If you want to learn more about reptiles of all kinds, and what it takes to live with them, one valuable resource I can recommend is reptilebreeds.com
Introducing a dog to a reptile
Not introducing the dog to the new reptile can actually cause a lot more damage. This is because dogs have extremely sharp smell senses, so you have no way of “sneaking” the reptile in the house without the dog knowing about it. Even if it doesn’t notice for a while, you might wake up with a terrible bark and the dog trying to break a door down because it heard the reptile vocalizing.
This can stress out not only you, the neighbors, and the dog, but it can also completely terrify the reptile. Some reptiles absolutely love to vocalize, which is why they shouldn’t be kept in bedrooms, especially if they’re nocturnal. And if the dog doesn’t know where the sound is coming from, what it is, and whether is a friend or foe, it will continue to create havoc.
You should let it see and sniff the tank from the moment you’re bringing the reptile home. Then, with time, let it sit next to you while you’re handling it. Use a calm and sweet voice when talking to the reptile so the dog knows that it’s a friend. After the dog gets used to the idea that there’s a reptile in the house, you can start cutting the contact to it almost completely.