Life with different types of pets can be an incredibly fulfilling experience when everyone gets along. However, not all pets are compatible with each other. Predatory animals such as dogs and cats can have a hard time integrating into a house with prey animals. Your typical pet parrot is one example of a prey animal that may be the target of unwanted attention from your pet dogs.
Teaching a dog to play nice with a pet parrot is doable. The key is a solid introduction that establishes a good relationship between the two. This sets up the continuous training necessary to ensure that your dog always treats your parrot as a member of the family, not as prey to be hunted.
Get your dog from breeders who are registered with an Australian breeders association to ensure that the dog is well-socialised and healthy. This will set your dog up for success when interacting with your pet parrots.
Important Reminders When Introducing Your Dog to a Pet Parrot
Dogs are predatory animals. Even the most easygoing and calm dog has the potential to accidentally hurt any pet parrot, due to the difference in their size and weight. Your dog may become intrigued by your pet parrot and want to play with them as a toy to be picked up and carried around. This doesn’t mean they’re a bad dog, it’s just a natural instinct for them!
Even puppies have the ability to injure pet parrots – their claws and teeth are sharp, and they have less impulse control. So whenever your dog and parrot interact, it has to be under your supervision. You also have to be a good judge of your dog’s prey drive, as some dog breeds were bred to hunt small animals. Dog breeds that are intended to be companions or herding dogs may be better suited to living with your pet parrot.
How to Introduce Your Dog to a Pet Parrot
Our first rule of introducing your dog to a pet parrot is: Don’t rush. The longer the two are interacting with each other, the bigger the chance of both of them getting overly excited and doing something that can hurt the other animal. Short introductory sessions of a couple of minutes are fine when you’re starting out.
In each session, you have to reassure both the dog and the parrot that they’re safe and that the other animal isn’t a threat. You want both animals to associate positive things with their interaction. You can give both the dog and parrot small amounts of treats when they’re around each other.
Your parrot may be scared of the dog at first, which is perfectly normal. The dog is a bigger animal with body language that the parrot doesn’t yet understand. Your parrot needs reassurance that you’re going to be around when the dog is there, and that the dog doesn’t want to harm them. Some types of parrots, such as the African Grey Parrot, are known to be more affectionate and may adjust more easily.
Your dog will need to be taught to be calm around your parrot. They’re naturally curious animals, and even their play bites and swatting that would be harmless to other dogs can cause injury to a small bird. Give your dog treats when they’re relaxed so they make the association in their minds that calm behaviour around the parrot earns them a reward.
After about 5 to 10 minutes of this, separate the two animals and reward them both for a successful introduction session. Repeat this every day – this process may take a week or more before the two animals are fully comfortable being around each other.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Choose a neutral area for their introduction – the introduction sessions should take place somewhere that isn’t either animal’s territory
- Give rewards for good behaviour – even when it’s not time for them to interact, if they’re looking at each other calmly, you can give them treats
- Don’t leave them unattended – all interactions must be supervised, even when you’re almost 100% sure that they won’t hurt each other
- Continue training even after they’re friendly – you want to keep reinforcing the idea that the bird should never be scared of the dog and that the dog should never see the bird as prey