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Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Guinea Pigs and Dogs: Friends or Foes

By Joanne Colangelo
Joanne Colangelo volunteers for a number of animal rescue organizations. She shares her experiences and stories of guinea pig interaction.

Guinea pigs can have friends of all species
Photo Courtesy Joanne Colangelo
A dog, a cat and a guinea pig rest in harmony together.

I feel so fortunate to share my life with three wonderful dogs.  They are all Boston Terriers, and two of them are rescues from Texas (I live in New York).  They get along beautifully with my cats, even though Tiggerbella has backed Rudy into a corner and kept him captive a number of times!  However, when it comes to my guinea pigs, it’s a different story.  Although each one of the dogs has a very different personality, I am vigilant when my guinea pigs are in their presence.

Becky, now 15 years old, is a total sweetheart.  She loves everyone no matter what species they are and just wants to be friends.  She is affectionate and careful with the guinea pigs, and I know that I can trust her explicitly.  She grooms them, cuddles with them or just rests comfortably next to them, and the guinea pigs seem to know that Becky will do no harm.  Becky was raised with my large, mixed-breed shelter dog named Champ.  Champ was also a gentle soul that loved all other animals, and he had to be part of the piggie fun!  He let the pigs crawl all over him, and it was obvious that he loved the little critters!  Even though I believed I could trust both Becky and Champ, I was always with them when they interacted with the piggies. 

On the other hand, I never permit my other two dogs to be in contact with my guinea pigs.  My Boston Terrier, Haley, approximately 7 years old, is absolutely precious.  However, she is extremely prey driven. An entirely different demeanor emerges at the sight of a small animal.  Her eyes bulge, she salivates and her body posture is in high alert in anticipation of “the hunt.”  She is never permitted near my guinea pigs, and when I hold them she knows that she cannot approach me.  If you look up the word “predator” in the dictionary, you might see Haley’s picture!

My third Boston Terrier, Rudy, is 3 years old, and came to me with a number of problems. He is quite unpredictable.  As a fearful and nervous little guy, I limit his contact with my guinea pigs.  He sits next to me when I hold one, and peeks at it from the corner of his eyes.  It’s as if he’s not quite sure what they are, so he’s somewhat afraid of them.  Even though Rudy does not exhibit either Becky or Haley’s behavior, I dare not test his impulsiveness and compromise the safety of my sweet little pigs.  

So if your dog likes your guinea pig, revel in the harmony, but keep a watchful eye.  If you need to introduce your dog to guinea pigs, make it slow and careful - and always stay within reach in case something should go awry.  We want our guinea pigs to have a long, healthy life and it truly is “better to be safe than sorry,” no matter how much Haley disagrees!

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Guinea Pigs and Dogs: Friends or Foes

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Reader Comments
Hey Joanne,
WOW, this is Absolutely AMAZING that Becky gets along with the piggies the way she does. It just blows my mind when I read of dogs or cats getting along so well with the smaller critters. That is truly Special. And I am Totally LOVIN' that pigture...Wheeeeek! Love ya... :-)
Leah, PS, & BP, Charlotte, NC
Posted: 11/21/2008 1:04:23 PM
I too have read and enjoyed many of Joanne's blogs about her guinea pigs. The articles are well-written, informative and entertaining. I especially admire how she selectively integrated her pack of dogs, cats and guinea pigs. Joanne's articles have given me a new appreciation for guinea pigs. Great work!
Lisa, Patterson, NY
Posted: 10/21/2008 10:03:37 AM
I have read all your blogs and have enjoyed them very much. You are very eloquent, and it's great that you have been given this opportunity to put a voice to that which is nearest and dearest to your heart. Your enjoyment of the topics very much shines through! And you have shared some very important and helpful information and advice!
Ann, New Britain, CT
Posted: 10/13/2008 8:25:37 PM
Great blog!
Louise, Westlake, OH
Posted: 10/11/2008 6:53:14 PM
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