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Small Pet Desensitization
  • Hello, so I am still Shibaless (just a few more months!), but I am starting to prepare for when I put down a payment, and when I will be able to receive my little one. I have a question aimed at shiba owners with small pets (Rabbits/ferrets/rats/chinchilla/etc.) I have a bunny who is the little fluff ball of my heart. She is extremely good with dogs and other random animals she should be terrified of. Obviously I will be getting an 8 week old puppy and (s)he willl be super socialized from day one when I get them. However, have anyone ever had experience on this kind of situation? Could someone give me some advice on training a Shiba to at least be calm around a small pet. I have seen animals on the Facebook groups who have pet rats who play with their dogs, but I want advice on how to desensitize it to my bunny.
    I am not sure if this is the right forum, Admins if it is not I do apologize, and I did do a search, and nothing really seemed to reflect this concern of mine.
    Thanks for any and all advice!
  • millerb7millerb7
    Posts: 132
    We have a 4.5lb toy poodle who is 7 when we got Chloe. Most rabbits are probably way bigger than our poodle Grace. This was a huge concern for us as Grace was first and we couldn't have her getting hurt.

    The first day Chloe growled and got super possessive of her food. She got a VERY serious scolding. It has never happened since.

    As far as play our poodle is older and really doesn't want anything to do with Chloe's play style. We basically would watch Chloe start to play with her and say "calm" every time she calmed down and treated her. She learned that calm meant to settle down. She quickly learned that she had to be calm around our poodle.

    They get along fantastic. Play fetch and all but the poodle always gets to win because Chloe won't be rough with her. There are even occasions when Grace will bite Chloe, and Chloe has never growled or nipped back. She does fantastic with Grace as a 4.5lb dog.

    That being said I know this is different than your situation since Grace is still a dog and not a rabbit or rat. But I think with enough training and attention paid to the situation they can do fine. Chloe is very possessive of Grace now. It's like her little toy. When we go to the dog park Chloe doesn't let other big dogs run up to Grace and trample her.

    Also, the poodle owns the house. She constantly puts Chloe in her place and tells her what she can and cannot do. The hierarchy is definitely established between those two.
    Post edited by millerb7 at 2014-04-08 21:45:06
  • NahatalieNahatalie
    Posts: 363
    I'm not going to be much but I do have 2 rabbits, and 2 cats (and a hamster) as well as my shiba. The rabbits have their own room and we have never let them meet. I don't want to risk it. If he got hold of one they could well die of stress (mine are nervous rescue bunnies - they've come a long way from the terrified creatures I adopted but they'll always be skittish and don't like human handling).

    As for the cats, the training to make him ignore them will always be ongoing but he's so much better than when we first got him. I think it's just a combination of the novelty wearing off for him and he now knows what "off" means, even if he doesn't always obey it lol.

    So, the cats can handle themselves and defend if necessary, but the rabbits would be helpless sothat's why I chose to never let them interact with the dog. I just think it's safer that way.
    Post edited by Nahatalie at 2014-04-09 06:39:49
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
    @Candywolf357 - If you want a dog to be calm around a prey animal (such as a rabbit), you are looking into the wrong breed of dog. Shibas were bred to hunt and that instinct is part of the breed standard. They have an amazing prey drive. Even my non-drivey girl will chase and kill a rabbit if given the chance.

    If you are intent on getting a Shiba, I would keep the Shiba and the rabbit 100% separated at all times. I, like @Nahatalie, would not even let them meet. If the dog knows the rabbit is in the house, his excitement and natural prey drive may cause him to attempt to break into the rabbit room and have a snack.
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • BootzBootz
    Posts: 3495

    I would definitely keep them separate like Nahatalie and Sunyata said. I owned a rabbit before that was house trained and had free roam. Years down the line my sister decided to add a dog.

    I've always kept them separate but one day decided to see how they would take it. First I kept the rabbit in a large crate and let the dog sniff her . My rabbit was not frighten, so I decided to switch it around. Dog in crate, rabbit free roam. My rabbit actually was interested and went up to the dog to smell.

    Conclusion? The dog is too excited and was prey driven, so I decided to keep them desperate all the time.
  • NahatalieNahatalie
    Posts: 363
    The dog never has and never will be allowed in the rabbit room. If he follows me to the door he is commanded to "wait" which he's brilliant at but I always shut the door behind me just in case. There is no point in risking it, hence keeping the rabbits "secret" from the dog.

    I suppose there must be exception but I can't see an average Shiba ever being able to interact with something like a rabbit without causing it stress. It's not fair on the rabbit. My Shiba certainly has a good prey drive. He'll be casually walking along and something like a leaf or piece of rubbish will twitch in the wind and it's like a switch goes on and he pounces with great accuracy. I would hate to think what he'd do to my rabbits if he knew they were in the room he is forbidden access to. Like it says above, the prey drive is instinctive and actually bred for so it'd be extremely difficult to overcome, if at all.

    (Lol @Bootz; keeping them desperate all the time :D)
    Post edited by Nahatalie at 2014-04-09 10:38:27
  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 6678
    I'd be careful always keep rabbit in cage or puppy in separate room when unsupervised.

    Only thing puppy might be too rough with his/her play and maybe the pup will do fine, but as he/she gets older the prey drive might get more higher..

    Saya chased two adult wild rabbits at 9weeks of age I think it was more like omg what is those! She probably thought of them like a toy or maybe thought they were cat at first. She stopped when they went into the woods.

    She gets along with cats fine, but things like rabbits, squirrels, guinea pigs etc. she is keen on. She has almost gotten a squirrel and killed a decent bit of baby rabbits who nest was right next to the house and garden. She has a keen nose so she found them quick despite them being well hidden. :\ I learned my lesson and keep her on long leash when it is baby rabbit season.. so far no more casualties. I love rabbits I didn't purposely let her go search for the nest I didn't really think that they'd make nest right next to the house where we walk by a lot!

    First time she caught a rabbit it was a juvenile, but not as big as an adult rabbit. the rabbit was at the walnut trees by the woods and me and Saya was at the shed working at the garden it was far away.. Saya was quick it was over as fast as she got to it Luckily she isn't like a cat where they play with prey alive she killed it pretty fast so it didn't suffer.

    It might work out, but might not can always keep the shiba on leash so you can control how they interact better. I'd worry the pup would attempt to play and scare the rabbit or prey drive kick in and quick shake.. Saya is 22lbs she could kill an adult rabbit if she could catch one.. she's tried, but they evade her too easily.

    I remember finding video of shiba hanging with a chicken looked cute and stuff sadly the shiba prey drive kicked in and he killed the chicken. the owner said on it's comment..

    One person on here lost their kids hamster due to their shiba getting it.

    Saya has met a guinea pig it was in it's cage and I was in room to make sure she behaved. Saya is older she was one year or two I forgot. She would lay on the ground watching it move about it was in the cage so Saya couldn't get it well she could if she tried hard enough, but I made sure she would just lay down. coarse if door was shut she'd sit or lay by it hoping to sneak in. She never tried to get the guinea pig and the critter didn't seem to mind her since she wasn't pawing at the cage. Though despite her behaving and being calm if that guinea pig was on the ground moving she'd be on it.

    If it doesn't work out be sure to keep them safe and separate or shiba on leash so he/she is controlled some.

    Working on leave it and drop it is good thing to work on can be life saver. My only concern is even if the shiba pup has friendly intentions and wants to play he/she might be too rough with the rabbit as shiba can play pretty rough.

    If something does happen please don't get mad at the dog when prey drive comes to play it's something they're breed with and a lot of times it is instinctual.

    I felt sad for those baby rabbits, but it wasn't Saya's fault she was doing what dogs do. kinda like how cats are keen on mice and rabbits and kills those things.

    Saya does fine with my cats when I had them and she likes our neighbor's cats, but strays and feral cats she does not like they act aggressive and Saya doesn't like that so she'll chase and tree them if she sees them.

    She's met the cat at the local pet store she is friendly with it. the cat is more like meh and indifferent so I usually keep Saya at distance so she doesn't overwhelm the cat.

    Saya is used to mine and neighbors who liked to play and wrestle..

    I hope things work out who knows.. let us know how it goes, but please protect the rabbit. might need to do a rotation give rabbit free roam while pup is in a room then have rabbit in the rabbit room while dog is out.
    Nicole, 5year old Bella(Boxer), and 4year old Saya(Shiba inu)
  • I don't plan on keeping the dog around the rabbit, especialy unsupervised, but if the bunny is in the cage and the dog is in the room will the dog be too spastic around the cage is my only real concern.

    Thanks for the advice, and yes, I am comitted to getting a SHiba, the bunny is already 1 year old, the max life span of medium breeds is roughly 5 years ( I hate thinking of it that way, but I am realistic, the dog will still be around after the bunny has gone to the rainbow bridge, but I don't want her to be overly stressed with a dog around, which is not a full worry seeing as she has been around rambunctious dogs before.
  • zandramezandrame
    Posts: 1106
    Our rabbits were there first, so Kouda is used to them. In fact, he shares a room with them. We don't let them interact, but when he was small, we made a point of feeding him near them. He is totally unfazed by the noises they make. He also likes to clean up any loose hay.

    When he graduated from his puppy pen, we set it up as a barrier for the bunny area (ignore their cardboard "toys").
  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 6678
    Saya did fine with the guinea pig in it's cage she mainly stood there looking at it or laying down watching it move about. She never pawed at it she did sniff a lot, but If she got too excited I had her lay down.

    I'm sure there are people who have rabbits and stuff like zandrame.
    Nicole, 5year old Bella(Boxer), and 4year old Saya(Shiba inu)
  • RhondabeeRhondabee
    Posts: 175
    I think I have posted about this before. I have had a Dutch rabbit (PeeWee) for 10 years now & found as a stray when he was a baby. I had my oldest shiba at the time (he is 15 years old now). I kept them separated for about a week until Kenji was no longer excited about PeeWee. The summer before I found PeeWee, Kenji had found and killed two baby rabbits in my yard. PeeWee is not a shy rabbit & has always been very outgoing and curious. He is kept his cage when I'm not at home & at night when I'm asleep. Otherwise he has free run. He is not scared of any of my 3 dogs or cats & will in fact try to run them off if he is getting pets and they walk up to me :) When I adopted my second shiba Taizo at 7 months old. I basically did the same thing. Kept them separated until the bunny was no longer a novelty. Since PeeWee was already there, Taizo simply accepted him and my 3 cats as part of the family. When I fostered & then adopted my 3rd shiba, Mika, who was 3 years old at the time, same thing. She really wasn't fazed at all & very quickly realized PeeWee was another family member. However, I've no doubt she would chase & kill a wild rabbit or any rabbit that wandered into our yard. In my experience, shibas can adapt to living with other species of pets once they know that they are part of the family. They are smart dogs.
  • Kit_Keet_Kit_Keet_
    Posts: 206
    We have a Kit and an Irish Terrier mix, as well as two Chinchillas. The chins were here before the dogs, and the oldest chin will be 14 in August! Anyway, Kit is pretty used to the chinchillas, they have their own room, but they did live in our living room for a while when we lived in an apartment. Currently the chinchillas live in cages, in their own room, upstairs, and the stairs are blocked by a baby gate because I want to take no chances!! However, the chinchillas' room is right next to our bedroom, so when we pop into feed them at night I'll usually let the dogs in with us. They both do pretty well around the chins and tend to be more interested in picking up accidentally dropped food, but I would also never trust them around the chinchillas while they were out running around the room with me.
  • Thank you everyone! So, I will be putting my payment down in about two months (supposed to be roughly 8 weeks before the puppy can go home, and a week before the desired litter will be born to reserve the pup) he/she will be a birthday present to myself in my new place!I have been bringing my friend's dog's scent home with m, and even having her play with the dog's toys to desensitize her to dog smell. I am getting super excited and feeling very confident thanks to all of you!
  • yay for getting your Shiba!

    yeah, I'd just keep them separate all the time. I suppose some people can (and have) made it work, but I think it is too risky for the prey animal, and some Shibas would never get over that drive, or might until the animal ran, or whatever.

    My Shibas were great bird hunters, and could never get used to my BFF's parrots, even though they were there often, even stayed at her house while I was out of town. They were always obsessed with the birds. But I think the most chilling thing was this. My female Shiba acted like she didn't care. Unlike the male, she never stalked the bird cages, never seemed obsessed with them or anything. But she was stealthy, and when one of the parrots got out, she leapt on him immediately, and would have killed him if my friend hadn't seen and screamed at her, and she was so surprised, she opened her mouth and the bird fell out, unharmed.

    Also, on a related note, my friend's parrots have acted like they were ok with each other, but in one careless moment, the conure went to close to the African grey who nearly killed him. So what I've learned from this is you can never relax your vigilance on this kind of thing. Don't assume because they seem to be ok that the dog is not going to go after the rabbit (or bird, or whatever). Just be hypervigilant.

    (and honestly, in my opinion, it's expecting an awful lot from a dog bred to hunt small prey to expect it NOT to consider small animals/birds as prey. So if it were me, I would keep the rabbit in a separate room all the time).
  • Kira_KiraKira_Kira
    Posts: 2482
    I had a Senegal Parrot for 13 years, he was my love. One of my cats was a kitten when I got him and never bothered him. My other cat was a kitten when I got her and I already had my parrot for over 8 years. She never got over wanting to get him and one day she went for it and got him. He survived overnight but passed the next afternoon at the emergency vet about an hour after I dropped him off. I truly thought he was going to make it, it crushed me. I felt awful, but I still have that cat and can't lay the blame on her because it's her instinct. The fact of the matter is, the prey drive is in their blood and you just cannot deny that it is there.

    For what it's worth, I would keep my pet in a separate room if I had it to do all over again. You can't train natural urges out of your dog sometimes, no matter how much you try.
    Cynthia, Proudly owned by Kira
    Kira the Cream Shiba Inu 吉良 - Facebook Page
    Follow Kira on Instagram! Kira_the_cream_shiba_inu
    Kira's Life Story & Photo Thread - Chronicles of Kira

    “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
  • Kira_Kira said:

    I had a Senegal Parrot for 13 years, he was my love. One of my cats was a kitten when I got him and never bothered him. My other cat was a kitten when I got her and I already had my parrot for over 8 years. She never got over wanting to get him and one day she went for it and got him. He survived overnight but passed the next afternoon at the emergency vet about an hour after I dropped him off. I truly thought he was going to make it, it crushed me. I felt awful, but I still have that cat and can't lay the blame on her because it's her instinct. The fact of the matter is, the prey drive is in their blood and you just cannot deny that it is there.

    For what it's worth, I would keep my pet in a separate room if I had it to do all over again. You can't train natural urges out of your dog sometimes, no matter how much you try.

    I'm so sorry to hear about your parrot! That must have been heartbreaking!

    I told my friend that she should not trust her dogs around her birds either, because just because her GSD, now passed on, was very patient with birds (he'd even let them ride him), doesn't mean she can trust her other dogs. She kept insisting she'd find a dog that would be ok with them, and I said I wouldn't trust even the gentlest of dogs, because one mistake could be deadly. She's finally realized that's true...and now is more careful with them.

  • Kira_KiraKira_Kira
    Posts: 2482
    Thank you @shibamistress - some of my friends didn't quite understand how devastating his death was for me, I got the typical "it's just a bird" looks. People that don't have pets just don't get that they are practically children to those of us that have chosen child-free lifestyles. He was older than most of my friends' children are and should have lived to at least 20+ years.

    I appreciate that you understand how much animals are a part of a person's life, as I'm sure most of our members can relate. Thank you so much :)
    Cynthia, Proudly owned by Kira
    Kira the Cream Shiba Inu 吉良 - Facebook Page
    Follow Kira on Instagram! Kira_the_cream_shiba_inu
    Kira's Life Story & Photo Thread - Chronicles of Kira

    “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
  • KaijuKaiju
    Posts: 23
    So I see this thread is older, but I thought this would be a good place for my question. We are on a wait list for a Shiba puppy this summer, and we visited my inlaws this weekend and let them know we were hopefully getting a dog. Their first question of course was how we planned to visit when we have a pet (they have never had dogs, and like to keep their house at an ocd level of clean), and I said it would have to come with us, particularly in the puppy stage as we couldn't board them right away due to vaccinations.

    They do have pet rabbits who stay in a cage in their basement, and their response was that if we did bring our pup they "suppose we could put a crate in the garage for the weekend". Their supposed reasoning being that if their rabbits even smell the dog they would have a heart attack and would not make it.

    Now, the guest bedroom we usually stay in is upstairs away from the rabbit cage.I just assumed we would bring a crate and ex pen and puppy could stay either in the pen in the bedroom or outside with us if we visited, respecting the fact that it is their home and they may not want a dog having run of the house. I realize that a Shiba and rabbit together would not be a good combo and had no plans to even have the two in the same room. I guess what I'm wondering is if their reasoning is logical. Would having a dog closed in a bedroom on another level of the home bother the rabbits so much they would suffer a heart attack? I personally think they are just averse to having the dog visit because they want to avoid the "mess".

    Needless to say, I didn't respond to the crate I the garage statement, but if they won't allow our pup to come in the house with us then we won't be staying with them plain and simple. I don't want to harm their rabbits, but I'm not going to leave my puppy alone in their garage either. He will be a member of our family, not a piece of luggage. Ugh.

    It might be kind of silly to ask this when we haven't even gotten our pup yet, but I was just so upset by their comment... xD Hopefully we can work something out...
    Post edited by Kaiju at 2016-03-20 21:11:24
  • LilikoiLilikoi
    Posts: 1272
    Gah I've had some conversations like that with people too. They're always like "he's just a dog not your child or something." And me trying to explain that I'm not going to treat my dogs like livestock gets the response "he's just like any other animal, he's nothing special" and they think I'm being ridiculous. So many people I know treat their dogs so badly, not like members of the family at all. It's not like they physically abuse their pets or something, but they mean nothing to them. They have no worth and it's no problem in their conscience to leave a dog (or even a young puppy) locked in a crate all day. At times I'm just like "no I won't be doing that, I'm not planning on mistreating my dog like most people do." Hahah. I get so annoyed. There's no reasoning with them because dogs mean nothing to them. And the fact that mine means something to me is an anomaly and is just me overreacting in their mind. It frustrates me so much to see that people are so ignorant with their pets ugh.

    Anyway... I don't know much about rabbits. I know they are pretty fragile and I've heard tales of them being literally scared to death, but those are all in very intense situations like rabbit got loose and was being chased by a dog, not just smelling a dog. How would rabbits as prey animals ever survive in the wild if the whiff of a potentially threat was enough to kill them?? I have no real experience. I'm just trying to be logical, and I would think as long as they're not in the same room they would be fine (and as long as the pup isn't allowed to like scratch and bark at the door out of curiosity or something). I'm the same way as you... My grandparents across the country are having a family reunion in the summer, and I'd rather not go at all than have to board my pup or leave him with someone I don't trust. My boyfriend might not be around at the time I'll be gone, so as much as I'd love to see all of my family, if it comes down to it, I have no problem putting my pup first.
  • pyleapylea
    Posts: 235
    @Kaiju: I have a lot of experience with house rabbits, and they do scare easily and stay distressed for a while even after the scare. That said, bunnies in the basement and a dog not being allowed anywhere near the basement should be totally fine.

    It sounds like your in-laws just don't want a dog running around their house. Maybe you can explain that the dog will only be in an ex-pen when you're visiting, and that you'll clean furiously before you leave? Still, it's completely in their right to not want a dog in their house. I wouldn't be offended if I were you. Some people just aren't pet people (my immediate family included).
  • KaijuKaiju
    Posts: 23
    @lilikoi I know! Like, I understand my dog is not a human child, but that doesn't mean they deserve to be treated like a less valuable life. My dogs still a member of my family and I still plan to be looking out for their best interests, they can't speak up to do it for themselves!

    @pylea I totally understand if they didn't want a dog in the home, I just would hope that of that really is their reason that they would be up front about it. You're right, it totally is their right as its their home. I would totally be understanding of that, I was more upset about their dismissiveness of the needs of a puppy. That, and even though we are understanding of their desire for a clean, pet free home, they still insist we visit. So either visits are going to happen with a puppy (with the ex pen and furious cleaning promised! ;) ) or we cannot visit until our pup is old enough for us to make other arrangements, and then probably only for short trips. We just need to find a compromise that works for both parties xD Thanks for the info on rabbits though.
    Post edited by Kaiju at 2016-03-20 22:41:59
  • JuniJuni
    Posts: 1269
    In my experience pet rabbits are not too smart. I had one who liked cats but was afraid of chickens. Even after my friend's cat put her paw in his cage to get a good feel of him....I don't think the smell of a dog will upset them.
    We sometimes visit a few parks nearby that have different farm animals for kids to experience. A lot of the time the bunnies hop right up to Juni to check her out across the fence.

    If it makes it easier, maybe try to find a dog friendly hotel nearby the inlaws the first few times?

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