Can’t we all just get along?
It is only natural, if you have several pets, to want them to all get along with each other.
And you’ve probably seen videos on YouTube of that exact situation.
Perhaps a giant dog is cradling a tiny chinchilla as they both sleep.
If you want to make this happen for yourself, I strongly advise against it.
Chinchillas can get along with dogs, but any interaction between them also presents an extreme danger to your chinchilla.
Keep reading to learn why dogs and chinchillas are best kept separate. But just in case, I’ll also go over the safest way to get them used to each other, if that is something you absolutely want to do.
- 1 Do Chinchillas Get Along With Dogs
- 2 Can Chinchillas And Dogs Ever Get Along?
- 3 Why Chinchillas Shouldn’t Play With Dogs
- 3.1 A Chinchilla Around A Dog May Cause Stress And Overheating
- 3.2 Other Solutions For Chinchilla Playtime Away From Dogs
- 3.3 Your Chinchilla Cage Should Be Separated From Your Dog In The Beginning
- 3.4 What If I Absolutely Want My Dog And Chinchilla To Interact?
- 3.5 Can Chinchillas Play With Cats?
- 4 Chinchillas And Dogs: Final Thoughts
Do Chinchillas Get Along With Dogs
Chinchillas and dogs can get along, but it is best they don’t play with each other. Chinchillas are prey and always feel vulnerable. They need a safe space when they are allowed out of their cage and should not have to deal with a predator like a dog.
Even if the dog is friendly, it will still cause the chinchilla stress. Plus, it could easily cause an injury to your tiny, fragile chin completely by accident. It could even result in your chinchilla’s death.
These fragile rodents do get scared easily. Even a friendly dog can cause them to panic. Even if you ignore the potential danger of that, it is just cruel to frighten your poor chin that way.
But there are always exceptions to each rule. The rest of this post is going to cover everything you need to know about a chinchilla interacting with dogs, to ensure you always keep your chinchilla safe.
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Can Chinchillas And Dogs Ever Get Along?
It is not impossible for a bond to form between your chinchilla and your dog. But in the large majority of situations, this is not only unsafe for your chinchilla, but perhaps also unethical to try and get these two pets to play with each other.
Chinchillas simply do not need to be around dogs, or other predators like cats, in the house. In all honesty, it is a disaster waiting to happen. And even if you could potentially make it work, it likely is not worth the time.
I have 2 dogs and a chinchilla and I keep them in separate rooms for chinchilla playtime. My chinchilla cage is now on the same floor where my dogs often hang out, but they have all gotten used to each other, so this is not a huge deal. My chin has a hiding box in the cage, so she can just hide herself away, if she ever feels even slightly scared.
But it does take a while for a chinchilla to get used to having dogs around. In the beginning, I would recommend limiting this so that your chinchilla can adapt to its environment first.
However, once it has adapted, there is nothing wrong with allowing your chinchilla cage to be on the same floor of the house where other pets happen to roam, as long as there is no direct contact that could endanger your chin.
Why 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 have tiny bones and bone structures. Their ribs about as dense and thick as a toothpick.
In my house, even my 4-year-old son has been knocked down or put in his place, because he got too riled up around my dog. He’s just a big clumsy animal (the dog, though I’m sure he sees me the same way).
Sure, he means well and would never 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.
It’s a risk that is not worth taking if you ask me. Keep your chinchilla and dogs separate to avoid issues, injury or even death.
Think of your dog on a walk. Or even when you let it out to use the restroom.
Dogs are naturally curious. They smell everything, and sometimes they even 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 likely to cause bodily harm, or at the very least pure panic.
How do chinchillas protect themselves from threats like this? Their preference is to hide. If they can’t, they may fur slip or even become aggressive and bite. This will not harm the dog, but it could cause it to attack back. And that won’t go well.
A Chinchilla Around A Dog May Cause Stress And Overheating
Outside of the physical harm your dog may accidentally cause to your chinchilla, you also have to factor in the stress, and the corresponding increase in body temperature, this type of interaction can cause your chinchilla.
Chinchillas get stressed and frightened very easily. When your chinchilla is out for playtime and starts getting stressed or running away for safety, you run the risk of your chinchilla overheating.
Chinchillas have very dense fur. Letting your dog scare the chinchilla or placing added anxiety on it may accelerate the overheating process and cause more danger and potential for harm to your furry friend.
And don’t even think about putting your chinchilla in a hamster ball around your dog (or ever). Those might protect your rodent from the dog, but it will still feel the same fear. Plus, the enclosed ball actually speeds up overheating.
Other Solutions For Chinchilla Playtime Away From Dogs
Again, yes, I’m aware that some people have had great luck introducing their chinchilla to other family pets. 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 them for playtime in a chinchilla-safe area.
Your chinchillas can jump high and hide very easily, which can also be dangerous. The room where you interact with your chinchilla should be proofed to remove or protect dangerous electrical cords. And most of the time, you want to block access to other areas of the home.
Instead of proofing the room for your chinchilla, you can also consider a chinchilla playpen like the one I use frequently. You can see it in my article on the best play tents for chinchillas. Mine is the first one listed there.
These types of playpens are an excellent alternative to allow your chinchilla time out of the cage in a safe space and to keep your chinchilla separate from your dog.
I have been using my playpen for more than 4 years and never had any issues with it. And it just saves me a ton of potential hassles.
If your chin ever gets out of its play room and into a main living area, it may be difficult to bring it out of hiding or get it back to safety. You won’t have thee issues if you keep playtime confined to a playpen, instead of an entire room.
That said, if your chinchilla ever does get out of its play area and into more dangerous parts of the home, here is a good trick. I like to use the good old “tap on the dust bath trick” to get my 5-year old female chin out of her hiding place.
When I first got her, per the breeder’s directions, I began making her associate the dust bath with something enjoyable, and I always tap the dust bath with my finger and make a clicking noise to indicate that it is dust bath time.
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, i.e. 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 to let me know how it plays out for you.
Your Chinchilla Cage Should Be Separated From Your Dog In The Beginning
Dogs can cause more issues than just pawing, biting, or chasing your chinchilla. Chinchillas are the most active early in the morning and late at night.
In other words, they are crepuscular. No chinchillas are not nocturnal.
These active times are the best times for playtime. But this should happen in an area away from where your dog commonly hangs out. And in the beginning, it is best if your dog is never even in the same room as your chinchilla.
During the first few weeks in your home, your chin is adjusting to its new environment. This is a time of high stress. There is no need to make it even worse by adding a dog to the mix.
It doesn’t matter if the dog can’t reach the chinchilla. Even just a dog barking can frighten a chinchilla. In fact, you may even get to hear some barking from your chinchilla if you don’t follow this advice.
Chinchillas will often use sounds and body posture to communicate fear or other messages.
A small animal like a chinchilla becoming frightened may not seem like a big deal, but it 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 suffer health issues from too much fear. They can have panic attacks or even have a 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 it is in the cage or not.
What If I Absolutely Want My Dog And Chinchilla To Interact?
This is a valid questions. And in all honesty, although advocating against it, I’m strongly considering introducing my dog to my chinchilla. But I want to make sure I do it 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. 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 to 68 degrees)
- I run triple de-humidifiers and an air purifier (keeps the air clean for my chin and me)
- 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…)
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.
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 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. With some of the things I mention to you, you do still need to exercise common sense and make your own decisions.
- 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 exists.
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. That said, 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 Planet Chinchilla, my chinchilla is a (currently) 5-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 is how to let two animals meet when one is a chinchilla.
Well, the answer seems to be you don’t. Or if you do, you do it very carefully.
My plan is 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 to 5 am and 7 to 10 pm.
I’m merely going to let my dog go near the cage with my supervision and just smell and interact. What I’m hoping for is a little sniffing, no 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.
Learn To Read Your Chinchillas Body Language
I’ve had my dog for 7 years. I 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.
You need to know your chin like that, so you know how she feels about having the dog so close.
The goal here is to introduce my chin to my dog until he is no longer interested.
What do I mean by no longer interested?
Have you ever had a friend come over for the first time, and your dog acts like a crazy animal 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 in 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.
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 with each other.
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 dog 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 manages to not bark, paw, physically harm, or even startle your chinchilla, make sure your dog understands that he or she is doing something desirable.
Reward it for the behavior. In the future, this should ensure the behavior continues.
Have A Backup Plan
Going into this situation, I know it is not generally advised to introduce a dog to a chinchilla. It is important to keep that in mind. That is why I’m going to try it extremely slowly, with plenty of safety precautions in place.
Also, I’m going to say something here that I hope does not result in negative feedback in the comments, but my dog is shock collar trained. This was a decision I wrestled with for months before doing it.
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 dog forums and 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. Also, we were living in a home that had a huge non-fenced backyard.
I used the shock collar on a low setting to train good and bad behavior and even learned how to do it 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. I don’t expect a massive failure. I get that having a chinchilla in the room and a zapper on standby may seem like my dog is being baited. But he isn’t.
I’m just preparing for the worst and I won’t 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. So yes, I’m going to continue to use it in situations where the positives outweigh the negatives.
If you have had a dog not respect property boundaries outside, or clobber your two-year-old child or a neighbor’s child, you may understand my line of thought better. You may also understand that there are ways to do this without causing harm.
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 was a possibility 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 and has common sense.
If it clearly appears to be very dangerous for the chinchilla or you just can’t get yourself feeling at ease, then throw in the towel 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 others learn if it’s possible. And if it fails, well then, I’m out luck and so are my readers on that topic.
Can Chinchillas Play With Cats?
No, the same rules apply here people. Cats kill mice and other rodents. Chinchillas are a rodent. Do the math. Any cat would love an excellent chinchilla hunting experience. Chinchillas and cats don’t get along. Even less so than dogs.
It’s the same dangers that a dog presents, but even more so. 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.
Chinchillas And Dogs: Final Thoughts
At the end of the day, the choice is ultimately yours on whether you want to allow your chinchilla to be around your dog.
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 things go bad, to ensure your chinchilla can return to safety.
Lastly, please share your experiences with this below. But ideally, don’t do it at all.
Chili and I wish you the best of luck with your new chinchilla and or dog and hope the best for the journey you have ahead of you.
Be sure to share your thoughts with the rest of us.
What’s your experience with introducing your dog to your chinchilla?
How about presenting your cat to your chinchilla?
Do you have any recommendations?
Should anyone ever actually attempt this?
Be sure to share those stories, thoughts, and concerns by dropping a comment below.
As always, Chili and I appreciate you stopping by and reading today and we will see you again next time!