Families that love dogs often love having other pets in the home.
It is not uncommon for family members to want their own pets to enjoy. Many people choose to have a dog and a hamster. Why not? They are both such fun to play with and pet.
Our dogs are affectionate, loving, and playful! What could go wrong? Who doesn’t enjoy watching a hamster running on his wheel or traveling about his tubes? It may be wise to pause to consider that your adorable, busy hamster might have a very different appeal to your curious canine.
It may be that your perfect pooch is just being friendly, but a slap with a paw or an affectionate mouthing of the hamster could wind up in a fatal encounter for your hamster.
Would my lab attack a hamster?
Your dog is very alert to his environment. With his amazing powers of sensation, your dog can smell and hear your little hamster, making this little furball an object of keen interest. When a dog is aroused by his senses, the focus will be on finding and interacting with the small animal. It is important to remember that your dog has natural instincts to hunt for prey.
The presence of a small hamster may stir those basic hunting instincts. You may find your dog in a state of arousal that may appear playful but is actually reflexively a hunter’s orientation to seek and find the smaller creature. Watch your dog’s body language for the signs of his interest in your hamster. The best scenario would be one in which your dog is interested in your small pet but responding in ways that are non-aggressive. You will see that your dog is focused, often staring in the direction of your hamster.
As his senses of smell and hearing are aroused, you can watch him search out the hamster. Dogs perceive the world with their super-sensitive sense of smell.
You will see your dog wiggling that wet nose as he sniffs out your hamster location. His excitement at the presence of a small animal may be expressed by the wagging of his super friendly tail. He will be keeping an eye on your hamster by staring and following the hamster’s every movement.
There are signs you want to watch for that could signal that your dog is responding to your hamster as prey. Obvious signs of danger to the hamster would include growling and barking. Other signs of potential to pounce on your hamster would be panting and raised ears.
Your dog may also be excitable and lunge toward the location of your little hamster. They may naturally go into a predator-prey behavior pattern. You may find your hamster responding by hiding and showing symptoms of stress, like shaking.
Dogs Vs. Hamsters
Charles Darwin described the evolution of the dog, “Our domestic dogs are descended from wolves and jackals and though they may not have gained in cunning, and may have lost in wariness and suspicion, yet they have progressed in certain moral qualities, such as affection, trust-worthiness, temper, and probably in general intelligence.”
Perhaps it is out of this evolution of the dog to acquire human morality that we would even consider the likelihood of a dog and hamster in the same home. It is those qualities of trustworthiness and temperament that we have faith that the dog will be able to coexist with helpless little creatures.
As one historian described dogs, they connect the wild with tame and they join nature and culture. It is a dog’s natural instinct to hunt and to be a predator. The sight, smell, and movements of small animals, such as a hamster, make them prey.
Your dog’s basic instinct will be to hunt the hamster. Even though dogs have learned to live with humans, those basic instincts cannot be trusted.
Some breeds, especially those of hunting dogs, will not be as trustworthy with other small animals in your home as they were bred to hunt prey. Other more passive companion breeds may be less openly aggressive but they still have that basic instinct to seek small creatures.
Dog and Hamster Interaction
All dogs have an innate prey drive along with the skills to act on that disposition.
There are a number of factors that will impact your dog’s prey drive. The science of predatory behavior includes consideration of the breed and disposition of the dog.
Four main factors affect the likelihood your pooch will pounce. They are Breed Some breeds are more likely to hunt. Learning Rewarding experiences makes it more likely the dog will want to hunt again. Opportunity This is the dog’s freedom to act when prey is present. Social facilitation This translates into the presence or absence of others to restrict or reinforce the predatory behavior.
The hunt has been described as occurring in two phases: The appetitive phase and the consumption phase. Going back to basic instincts, dogs hunt to eat! Dogs rely on their super sense of smell and memories to hunt their prey. In the wild, dogs would hunt in packs and surround their prey so they can not escape. Similarly, your domesticated dog may corner small prey.
Today’s dogs may vary in their response to locating prey based on breeding and training experiences. For example, a pointer may point to the prey rather than proceed to eat it. A bird dog may mouth prey similarly to how the dog would pick up a bird in a trained hunt.
Retrievers, Spaniels, Pointers, and Setters are the breeds of dogs with the keenest hunting instincts, making them less favorable candidates to live with hamsters and other small animals.
How to Keep A Dog and A Hamster
Having a hamster and a dog in your home can be a bit stressful, and you may be concerned about how to keep your little hammie safe from the big dog.
You do not need to be as worried as you think. Although it is very important to keep dogs and hamsters separated, you can still keep both as pets.
In order for those two to coexist in your home without any problem, you must invest in a proper enclosure for
the hamster, and of course, there will be rules for safety purposes. Let’s take a look at this step-by-step method to use in order to keep your hamster safe.
Selecting A Safe Enclosure for Your Hamster
This is a very important step.
You do not want to go out and pick up the first one you see.
It is recommended to get a glass enclosure over the caged ones because a dog cannot just reach in between the openings. Hamsters are very small and because of this, they are able to fit through very small openings.
So, having a glossed enclosure will ensure there are no Houdini vanishing acts! There are however a few this to consider with a glass enclosure.
- The temperature in a glass enclosure can heat up very fast. The
enclosure should not be anywhere near heating vents or direct sunlight. There are hamster safe thermometers that you can purchase to make sure the temperature does not get higher than 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Make sure to remove moist bedding on a daily basis as glass enclosures can get a buildup of ammonia, which can result in respiratory health issues for your hamster.
Spacing in a Wire Cage
Okay, so you have decided on a wire cage. That is okay, but you have to measure the spaces between the bars. This is very important. If you don’t get this right, you can definitely expect some Houdini action
going on, and your dog may be able to reach in. A good tip is the spacing between the bars should never more than 0.5-inch (1.27-cm).
- If you live in a very hot climate, then a wire cage is probably the best way to go because remember the glass enclosure can heat up fairly quickly.
Avoid Any Tunnel Attachments On Hamster’s Home
Tunnels can be very fun for the hamster, but the tunnels are out of the enclosure and leave the animal exposed to larger curious animals like the dog.
Placing The Hamster’s Home In a Safe Place
Make sure to keep the hamster’s home high enough so that a dog cannot knock it over.
- Keeping the hamster in a room with a door is highly recommended. Your hamster now has its home and it is in a safe and secure place. Now we can move on to the next part.
Are Dogs’ Diets Instinctively Prey-based?
The question was- can dogs and hamsters live together. We have discovered that yes, dogs and hamsters can live together, but not so much best buds.
It can be too dangerous for the hamster due to dogs having a hunter instinct. Even my own dog Kiki who is a little Yorkie was paying way too much attention to a pair of guinea pigs that were over at my house visiting. She was trying to get into their cage and was barking at them.
She may have just wanted to play since she loves meeting new people and animals, but I was not willing to chance it. It is best to keep these apart, but still teach the dog to be calm around it and to protect it.