Gerbils and Dogs: Can They Get Along? (Yes!)

Can gerbils and dogs live together and get along in the same house? Yes, they sure can! And in this article, we’ll start by teaching you all you’ll need to make that happen. Next, we’ll train you on how to stop your dog barking at gerbils, and also on the exact steps to introduce dogs and gerbils.

We’ll then cover some tough but necessary subjects you should know such as are gerbils scared of dogs, do dogs eat gerbils, and what to do if your dog killed your gerbil. But with proper training and patience, you’ll never have to worry about those things again. Keep reading below!

Gerbils and Dogs: Keep the Peace

Gerbils and Dogs

Gerbils and dogs can live in peace with careful introduction, monitored interaction, and consistent training like the ‘leave it’ command. Remember, both animals’ comfort and safety should be the utmost priority.

Gerbils and Dogs: The Initial Introduction

The first meeting between your dog and gerbil should be closely supervised. The gerbil should remain in its cage during this time. Allow your dog to sniff around the cage, but ensure they can’t knock it over or harm the gerbil. Reward calm behavior, reinforcing that the gerbil’s presence is not a cause for excitement or agitation.

Training the ‘Leave it’ Command

Train your dog to understand the ‘leave it’ command. Start by holding a treat in both hands. Show your dog one closed fist with the treat inside and say ‘leave it.’ Ignore the behaviors they do, such as licking or pawing, and once they stop these actions and make eye contact with you, give them the treat from the other hand.

Repeat this exercise until your dog moves away from the first fist when you say ‘leave it.’ This command can be very useful when your dog shows too much interest in the gerbil.

Monitor All Interactions

Never leave your dog and gerbil alone together unsupervised. Despite training, dogs have natural hunting instincts, and an unsupervised moment could lead to an unwanted incident. Always ensure that the gerbil’s cage is secure and out of the dog’s reach when you’re not around.

Create a Safe Space for Your Gerbil

Gerbils need a safe, quiet space to thrive. Make sure their cage is in a low-traffic area where they can feel secure. While social interaction is important, your gerbil also needs downtime away from the dog.

Understand Each Pet’s Limits

Every pet is unique. Some dogs may never see the gerbil as anything other than a prey item, while others may quickly adapt to the gerbil’s presence. Similarly, some gerbils may remain fearful of the dog. Always prioritize your pets’ welfare and adjust expectations accordingly.

These steps will help your dog get along with your gerbils, but it’s important to remember that the underlying behavioral issues (prey drive, anxiety, overexcitement, etc.) that were causing all of this to begin with will still be present. And until you address those, any positive changes you see are only going to be temporary.

“Well, how do I make these changes last?”

By getting your dog to truly choose to follow your direction, that’s how. I tried many times to write out how you can do this before deciding it made more sense to just link you to the free video series that explains it better than I’d ever be able to.

The series is by a man named Dan who is one of the world’s leading dog obedience trainers. In it, he teaches you how to put an end to things like when your dog doesn’t get along with your gerbils and all other misbehavior using his fast and easy-to-follow methods.

In the first video, Dan will reveal to you why the two most common methods of dog training only doom you to failure. You can watch the video now by clicking here. Follow the proven system he’ll show you in his series and you’ll never have to spend another second worrying about your dog not getting along with your gerbils ever again!

How to Stop Dog Barking at Gerbils

dogs and gerbils

To stop your dog from barking at gerbils, apply techniques like the ‘quiet’ command, provide distraction, or implement desensitization and counterconditioning strategies. Consistent, patient training is key to your dog’s success in learning to remain calm around gerbils.

The Quiet Command

Training your dog on the ‘quiet’ command is very effective. Begin by saying “quiet” when your dog starts barking at the gerbils. When they stop barking, reward them with a treat or praise. Start off with short periods of silence, and gradually increase the time they need to be quiet before they receive the reward.

Repeat this process consistently until your dog understands that “quiet” means they need to stop barking.

Distract Your Dog

If your dog bark at the gerbils, try to divert their attention. Use their favorite toy or initiate a training session. The goal is to shift their focus from the gerbils to something else.

Desensitization and Counterconditioning

Gradually expose your dog to the gerbils from a distance at which they don’t react. Reward them for calm behavior. Gradually reduce the distance over time, always rewarding calmness. This process helps your dog to associate the presence of the gerbils with positive experiences rather than an urge to bark.

Address Underlying Issues

If you’re finding it hard to stop your dog’s barking, then you probably have an underlying behavioral issue that must be addressed before you’ll be able to make any lasting progress. We go over how you can do this in the first section.

To sum up, stopping your dog from barking at gerbils involves a combination of training commands like ‘quiet’, providing distractions, and implementing desensitization and counterconditioning strategies. Patience, consistency, and understanding your dog’s needs are important to ensure success.

Dogs and Gerbils: How to Introduce

Introducing dogs and gerbils can be a tricky process, as dogs’ predatory instincts may be triggered by small, fast-moving animals like gerbils. The key is a slow, controlled introduction with constant supervision, ensuring both pets feel safe and secure.

  1. Prepare the Environment: Before bringing a gerbil into a home with a dog, it’s essential to set up the gerbil’s habitat securely and in a place where the dog cannot easily access it. Make sure the cage is sturdy and escape-proof to avoid any potential accidents or escapes that could lead to dangerous encounters.
  2. Monitor Initial Interactions: Initial interactions between your dog and gerbil should always be closely monitored and controlled. You can allow your dog to see the gerbil in its cage and observe their reactions. Any signs of extreme excitement or aggression from your dog should be noted, and you may need to consult with a professional animal behaviorist if this occurs.
  3. Use a Barrier: For the initial stages of the introduction, keep a barrier (like the gerbil’s cage or a sturdy glass panel) between the dog and the gerbil. The dog can see and sniff the gerbil without any risk of harm. This helps your dog get used to the gerbil’s presence and smell in a safe environment.
  4. Controlled Introduction: Over time, if your dog shows calm behavior around the gerbil’s cage, you may attempt a more direct introduction, still with a barrier in place. A muzzle can also be used for extra safety. The gerbil should always be held securely during these interactions, and any sign of stress or fear from the gerbil or dog should result in ending the session.
  5. Never Leave Them Unattended: Regardless of how well your dog and gerbil seem to get along, they should never be left alone together unsupervised. Even a well-intentioned dog may accidentally harm a small, delicate animal like a gerbil.

Introducing a dog and a gerbil should be done with great care, patience, and constant supervision. The safety of both animals should always be the priority. Learn more about this in the first section.

You’ll want to get this handled now so that your dog can interact safely with other animals as well. You’ll then have no worries even if you have encounters between your hamster and your dogs, chinchilla and your dogs, ferret and your dogs, and even your sugar glider and your dogs.

Are Gerbils Scared of Dogs?

Gerbils are scared of dogs due to their natural instincts and size difference. However, with a proper introduction and consistent, positive interactions, it’s possible to mitigate this fear, although the gerbil’s comfort and safety should always be paramount.

  1. Natural Instincts: Gerbils are small prey animals and, as such, are naturally cautious and skittish around larger animals, including dogs. Even if a dog means no harm, its size and behavior can be intimidating and stressful for a gerbil. This fear is based on survival instincts, and it can take time for a gerbil to adjust to the presence of a large predator-like animal in their environment.
  2. Sensitivity to Noise: Gerbils are also sensitive to noise, and the sounds a dog makes, such as barking or whining, can be alarming to a gerbil. Even the sound of a dog moving around or playing can be distressing, particularly if the gerbil is not accustomed to these noises.
  3. Unpredictable Behavior: Dogs are often curious and energetic, and their behavior can be unpredictable. This unpredictability can be very stressful for gerbils, which prefer calm, stable environments. It’s crucial to monitor the behavior of both animals during interactions, and intervene if the dog’s behavior is causing the gerbil distress.
  4. Positive Interactions: If a gerbil has positive experiences with a dog from a young age, it may be less afraid. However, it’s important to note that every gerbil is an individual, and some may be more fearful than others, regardless of their experiences.
  5. Respecting the Gerbil’s Space: Providing the gerbil with a safe, secure habitat that the dog cannot access is critical. This gives the gerbil a place to retreat to if it feels threatened or scared, which can help reduce fear and stress.

While gerbils are scared of dogs typically, careful handling, appropriate introduction, and continuous supervision can help reduce this fear. However, the gerbil’s natural instincts and well-being should always be respected and prioritized. We go over more you should know in the first section.

Do Dogs Eat Gerbils?

While dogs do not eat gerbils typically, their predatory instincts might prompt them to catch and harm small animals, including gerbils. Therefore, it’s very important to ensure safe and supervised interactions between your gerbils and dogs.

Understanding Canine Predatory Instincts

Dogs, especially certain breeds, have innate predatory instincts, and small moving animals like gerbils can trigger these instincts. However, it’s important to note that most dogs won’t necessarily eat the gerbils; rather, they might see them as play objects, which can still lead to harm.

Safe Interactions Between Dogs and Gerbils

Ensure that your dog and gerbil interact under strict supervision. Create a physical barrier, like a sturdy cage for the gerbil, which your dog cannot access. Teach your dog commands such as “leave it” to control their behavior around your gerbil.

Training Your Dog

Training can mitigate your dog’s instinctive reactions to gerbils. Socialization from an early age can help your dog to become accustomed to the presence of small animals and reduce their urge to chase or harm them. Professional dog trainers can assist in this training if required.

Addressing Underlying Problems

If your dog shows aggressive tendencies toward your gerbil, then you likely have an underlying behavioral issue that you’ll need to address before you can make real, lasting progress. We go over how to do this in the first section.

While dogs don’t usually eat gerbils, their natural instincts can prompt them to harm these small animals. Ensuring safe interactions, training your dog, and addressing any underlying problems can prevent harm and maintain peace between dogs and gerbils.

My Dog Killed My Gerbil

This is a difficult situation and you may be feeling a lot of different emotions when your dog killed your gerbil. It’s important to remember that dogs have innate hunting instincts, and it’s not uncommon for them to harm smaller animals, even if it’s upsetting. Here’s what to do next:

  1. Allow Yourself to Grieve: Losing a pet is heartbreaking, even if it’s a smaller pet like a gerbil. Take some time to process your emotions and mourn your pet. It’s okay to feel upset and angry, but remember that your dog likely didn’t understand the implications of its actions.
  2. Don’t Punish Your Dog: While it’s natural to be upset with your dog, it’s crucial not to punish it after the fact. Dogs don’t make the connection between punishment and past actions. Instead, it can create fear or confusion, which can lead to other behavioral problems.
  3. Consider Separate Spaces: If you have other small pets, now is the time to reconsider their safety. Ensure they are securely housed in a room that your dog can’t access. It’s also worth investing in sturdy, dog-proof cages if you didn’t have them before.
  4. Provide Distractions: To prevent similar incidents in the future, provide your dog with plenty of toys and activities to keep it occupied. This can help curb any hunting instincts it may have.

It’s important to remember that this is a natural instinct for dogs and doesn’t make them bad or aggressive. By taking precautions, providing distractions, and maintaining separation, you can help prevent similar incidents in the future.

I’m sure you’re looking forward to a home where your gerbils and dogs live together in peace, so I’ll let you get started on things now. Good luck with all of this, and thanks for reading our article “Gerbils and Dogs: Can They Get Along? (Yes!)”.

The Author

KB Williams

KB Williams

Hey there! I'm a dog behavior expert and lover of travel. Since 2016, I've been sharing my knowledge of dog training and behavior while exploring the Pacific Northwest with my two rescues.