When it comes to our pets, we usually have plenty of questions and concerns. We should. That’s what being an ethical pet owner is all about. In fact, I’d argue that not having questions is a cause for concern.
I was the same way when I first adopted my chinchilla. I couldn’t keep up with the number of questions I had on nearly every topic imaginable. I’ve even owned small pets and large pets in the past, but I wanted to make sure I knew at least the basics before getting my chinchilla home. I also have a 100-pound yellow lab, so one of the questions I naturally had was simple. Can chinchillas play with dogs? After owning a chinchilla and a dog at the same time, here is what I can tell you on the topic.
So, can chinchillas play with dogs? In most circumstances no. Chinchillas can’t play with dogs. Chinchillas are prey animals and extremely small and fragile. Although it may be possible in some situations to allow dogs and chinchillas to interact, in most cases this will dangerous and not advised.
I’m sure some of you have seen a YouTube video or someone stating that this is totally possible. I’m not necessarily arguing that some bonds can be formed between your chinchilla and your dog but in a large majority of situations, this is not only unsafe for your chinchilla but also unethical to try and perform this with your pets. Especially without exercising extreme caution and having a plan ready to go.
The goal of my post if you stick around for just a minute or two is to break down why this can be so problematic and inform you of the dangers associated with chinchillas being in the same play area as your dogs. Let’s dive into the details.
Why Your Chinchillas Shouldn’t Play with Dogs
Let’s assume that you are like me and own a chinchilla and a dog. A large dog for that matter. Let’s also assume you have limited space and have been considering allowing the dog and the chinchilla to interact in the same room.
Big mistake and I recommend against it. (In most situations and circumstances)
First and foremost, dogs have powerful senses and are naturally curious. Especially when it comes to another animal in the home. Chinchillas also have tiny bones and bone structures that compose their body. Their ribs about as dense or thick as a toothpick.
I don’t know if you are anything like me, but even my 2-year-old son can be knocked down or put in his place for getting to riled up around my dog. He’s just a big clumsy animal. Sure, he means well and wouldn’t ever intentionally try to cause any harm to my son.
That doesn’t mean that accidents don’t happen. They do and having your chinchilla and dog interacting in the same room could be a cause for concern and just asking for something terrible to happen.
Your Dogs Senses and Curiosity
Let’s think of your dog even when you let them out to use the restroom. They are naturally curious. They smell everything, and sometimes they also dig to follow a scent they pick up near the ground.
Well, your chinchilla coming out for playtime in the same room as your dog is going to spark the same curiosity.
The only difference is that your dog is probably going to investigate the matter even further. He may paw at the chinchilla, sniff and potentially even attempt to grab your chinchilla in his or her mouth.
Doing so, with an animal as small and fragile as your chinchilla is, will likely cause bodily harm or something not desired to take place.
Chinchillas Have the Capability to Overheat. Quickly
Outside of the physical harm your dog may accidentally cause to your chinchilla, we haven’t even factored in the stress and added body temperature that you are going to cause to the chinchilla.
Chinchillas can get stressed and frightened very easily.
When your chinchilla is out for playtime and begins getting stressed or running away for safety, you run the risk of your chinchilla overheating.
Chinchillas have very dense fur so letting your dog scare the chinchilla or placing added anxiety to your chinchilla may accelerate the overheating process and cause more danger and potential for harm to your furry friends.
Other Solutions for Chinchilla Playtime
Again, yes, I’m aware that some people have had great luck introducing their chinchilla to other family pets and I’m not debating that. I am stating once again, that for most of us who own both a dog and a chinchilla, it’s better to separate the playtime in safe chinchilla areas.
Your chinchillas can jump high and hide very easily from us which can also be dangerous. Your room where you interact with your chinchilla should be proofed from dangerous electrical cords and most of the time, you want to block access to other areas of the home.
If they get into a main living area, it may be difficult to bring them out of hiding or get them back to safety. If this does happen; however, I like to use the good old tap on the dust bath trick to get my 1-year old female out of her hiding place.
My chinchilla loves her dust baths. It’s when she loves to come out, act friendly and cuddly and have a good old time. When I first got her, per the rescue’s directions, I began making her associate the dust bath with something enjoyable, and I tap the dust bath with my finger making a clicking noise.
I also afford her a treat during this time. My goal was to condition her to understand that the tapping noise was associated with fun time, (dust baths). It’s worked thus far, and if she gets into a tight little corner in the room we play in, I can coax her back out using this method.
It works, give it a try and be sure to leave a comment below at how it plays out for you.
Technically, Even the Cage Should Be Separated from Your Dog
Dogs can cause more issues than just pawing, biting or chasing your chinchillas. Chinchillas are the most active early in the morning and late at night. This is due to being crepuscular. With, your chinchilla prefers to be in a cool, well-lit but also capable of darkness area.
Lastly, this should be in an area away from where your dog commonly interacts with your chinchilla. You see, even dogs barking can frighten a chinchilla.
A small animal like a chinchilla becoming frightened may not seem like a big deal but can have other adverse consequences if it happens for an extended period or happens too often.
Animals that are as small as a chinchilla can have health issues from too much fear such as panic attacks or even cardiac arrest. Additionally, as stated before, an animal with dense fur like a chinchilla can quickly become overheated if too frightened or overly anxious whether they are in the cage or not.
What If I Absolutely Want My Dog and Chinchilla to Interact?
Alright, valid questions and in all honesty, although advocating against it, I’m strongly considering introducing my dog to my chinchilla but only in a safe manner.
If you are curious how I’ve gotten away with them not interacting thus far, let me explain.
First, my chinchilla is in my office with me in my basement which is secured by not only a door but also a baby gate because my 2-year-old son is curious and anyone with a child this age can probably agree that they act like an animal as well.
When I’m not in the basement working, my chinchilla remains in the basement for a few reasons.
- The Lighting is Great for Her Natural Cycles
- The Temperature is Perfect (64-68 degrees)
- I run Triple De-Humidifiers and an Air Purifier (Keep the Air Clean and Quality for Her)
- She Can Be Left Alone (My Son and Dog Don’t Terrorize Her)
- I Like Her Near Me When I Work (We Talk, Interact, Take Videos, Bond, Etc…)
So, naturally, when I arrived home with my chinchilla, she was in a transport-safe container/cage. I bypassed my dog entirely and went straight to the basement where I knew she would be housed at.
So, to this day, I have not introduced my dog to my chinchilla, nor have I really had a need too. My son plays with the chinchilla all the time in a chinchilla safe playpen and is head over heels for my dog, but he’s never had the pleasure of playtime with both or a 2-1 pet special to this day.
My Plan is Not Fully Developed Yet So Exercise Caution
Although I’d like to think of myself as the number 1 resource for anything chinchilla related, I will openly admit I’m not an expert on everything related to chinchillas and some things I mention to you, you do still need to exercise common sense and make your own decisions on.
- Do I plan On Adopting More Chinchillas? Yes, Absolutely!
- Do I Plan on Breeding Chinchillas? You Bet, Very Soon!
- Do I Document and Blog About Every Tiny Thing I Experience with My Chin? Yes, That’s Why Planet Chinchilla Exist.
However, there is a big reason why I continuously encourage comments on my post in the bottom part of the page. I don’t know everything and some of you can provide valuable tips and tricks. My blog is designed to share the stories and answer what questions I can, but I’m not the Chinchilla whisperer by any means.
So, here’s my plan to introduce my dog to my chinchilla.
The Cage Only Method and Keep It Short and Sweet
Again, in case you are new to Planetchinchilla, my chinchilla is a 1-year old female named “Chili.” I thought about adopting one for years and just never pulled the trigger. I had read everything possible on them and even purchased an E-book at one point.
One question that was never covered, how the hell do you let two animals meet when one is a chinchilla?
Well, the answer seems to be you don’t, or you do it very carefully.
Bringing My Dog to The Basement
I’m merely going to bring my dog to the basement during a time where I know my chinchilla will be awake and active. If you haven’t read my post yet about when that is, you can see that here. It’s about when chinchillas sleep. My chinchilla is most active at about 4-5am and 7-10pm.
I’m merely going to let my dog, naturally sniff her out, go near the cage with my supervision and just smell and interact. What I’m hoping for is still sniffing, lack of barking and for my chinchilla to have a little curiosity as well and come near the front of the cage.
I think if I can get her to the cage front, we have a better chance at a successful introduction.
Reading Your Animals Body Language
I’ve had my dog for 7 years. I can understand him like a book with my eyes closed. Everything from his mouth expressions, his ear position and how he walks and smells, I know entirely what he is thinking. The goal would be to introduce until he is no longer interested.
What do I mean by no longer interested?
Think of it like this, you know what I’m talking about, you just need a different angle. Have you ever had a friend come over for the first time, and your dog acts like an *** hole the first few times they interact and meet?
Jumping all over them, licking, pawing, barking?
Well, the next few times your friend comes over your dog no longer cares and is over it and just a normally calm dog? Well, that’s what I’m shooting for. I want them to interact until my dog has zero interest her, they know each other’s smells and just leave each other alone for the most part.
After this is complete, I may try the same playroom but with an isolated spot for my dog where he can’t physically reach her. If you’re confused, don’t be. I’ll take a YouTube video of the experience and allow you all to see.
Other Recommendations Just from Purely Knowing Animals
I have a few other recommendations I would try if you really are going to attempt to allow your dogs and chinchillas to interact together. First and foremost, make it enjoyable for the dog and the chinchilla.
If your dog wants to act like an idiot, end the session and don’t risk it. Furthermore, if your dogs behaved, reward the crap out of him or her. Positive reinforcement is huge with dogs. It’s even been huge with my chinchilla.
If your dog can not bark, paw, physically harm or even startle your chinchilla, make sure your dog understands that he or she is doing something desirable and reward them for the behavior. In the future, this should ensure the behavior continues.
Have a Plan B and Escape Plan
Going into this situation once again is not advised, and I’m going to try it extremely slowly with plenty of safety precautions in place.
Also, this next comment, I’d prefer not to hear any negative feedback in the comments because I weighed this decision for months before doing it, but yes, my dog is also “shock collar trained.” Yes, I understand it hurts the dog in some cases, and yes, I know the negatives of using shock collar training, and yes, I’ve already had an earful on past blogs about this.
I get it, but I did it for a good reason. My two-year-old son was going through seizure issues, and my dog was not responding well for a period right around when this is taking place.
Also, we were living in a home that had a huge non-fenced backyard. I use the shock collar on a low setting to train good and bad behavior and even learned how to do ethically through video training.
Yes, I plan to have this collar on my dog when he’s around my chinchilla, and yes, I understand I’m basically setting him up to be shocked. However, what many don’t understand is how trained he already is, and I don’t expect a massive failure.
I get that having a chinchilla in the room and a zapper on standby may seem like your dog is being baited, but it’s not.
I’m also not going to allow my chinchilla to die over not giving my dog a slight zap if need be. Sorry for anyone who decides not to follow this blog over it, but I’ve learned what to do with these collars, and it’s been extraordinarily successful, and yes, I’m going to continue to use it.
If you have had a dog not respect property boundaries outside, clobber your two-year-old child or neighbors, you may understand better and understand that there are ways to do this without causing harm.
Don’t Try Multiple Times. If it Fails, It Fails
Look, we aren’t miracle workers here. If your dog and chinchilla can’t interact safely, it’s not the end of the world, and you honestly should have known this before ever adopting one or the other. There is no need to try this every weekend until it works tirelessly.
I trust that everyone here is smart individuals with common sense. If it clearly appears to be very dangerous for the chinchilla or you just can’t get yourself feeling at ease. Throw in the towel early and be done with it.
No need to risk the chinchilla’s life multiple times trying for this success. They don’t need to be friends to both be happy in the household. I’m not even attempting for that reason, to be honest with all of you.
I’m attempting to help other individuals learn if it’s possible and what to do and if it fails, well then, I’m out luck and so are my readers on that topic.
What About Other House Pets? Should They Interact? Can Chinchillas Play with Cats?
No, the same rules apply here people. Cat’s kill mice which are in the rodent family and a cat can easily have them an excellent chinchilla hunting experience.
It’s the same dangers that a dog presents, so it doesn’t need to be done but again if you are dying to make your two pets’ best friends, use a safe and ethical way of doing so with some form of a plan B or escape method if things go wrong.
Final Word. I Wouldn’t Try It, But If You Do, Exercise Common Sense and Safety
At the end of the day, the choice is ultimately yours. You can try and let your chinchilla play with your dog, or you can try and make your chinchilla play with your cat.
If you do, just be smart, slow and methodical. Also, be sure both pets are even interested in this meetup or introduction to each other. Obviously, be on high alert during the process and have a clean and clear plan ready if need be to make sure your chinchilla can return to safety. Lastly, please share your experiences with this below.
This is a typical problem chinchilla owner are curious about and would to hear your feedback.
What’s your experience with introducing your dogs to your chinchilla? How about presenting your cats to your chinchilla? Do you have any recommendations? Should anyone ever actually attempt this? Be sure to leave a comment below, and as always, I appreciate you. See you next time.