What is the proper and safe way to introduce my dog to the family guinea pig?
The safest thing to do is to keep your dog completely away from the guinea pig.
Guinea pigs are considered prey animals and are basically defenseless against attack from other animals, even the family dog, especially if yours is a breed that’s particularly prey-driven. Even if the dog is gentle, there’s still the possibility of it unintentionally hurting the guinea pig.
Here are some tips that will keep your dog happy and your guinea pig safe:
• Some breeds are highly prey-driven. These include some of the working and hunting breeds such as Labrador retrievers, Border collies, Rottweilers or German shepherds. They get especially motivated by anything that runs, chews, or digs.
• Supervise the pets at all times and keep them separated when you aren’t at home. Place the guinea pig’s cage in a room where it can still interact with the family, but where it can also be shut off from the rest of the household pets when you are not able to supervise interactions. Sometimes complete separation is the only way to squelch the dog’s naturally inquisitive nature when it comes to a smaller pet like a guinea pig.
• Distract the dog from the smell of the guinea pig’s food by storing it all in an airtight plastic container away from the guinea pig’s cage. Feed your pets at the same time whenever possible, starting with the dog so that he will be too distracted by his own meal to realize that the other animal is also receiving tasty treats.
• Keep the guinea pig’s cage on a tall, folding table that is out of immediate reach of the dog. If you notice the dog approaching the table, command her to “leave it alone” and then reward with treats for good behavior. Repeat this command every time the dog shows an interest in the cage area to reinforce the behavior. Even the sturdiest table and cage won’t be able to withstand the weight of an overly curious canine.