How to Train Dogs to Be Kind to Gerbils

Dogs and gerbils can sometimes be friends if you introduce them properly.
gerbille image by jérôme caffin from <a href=''></a>

Many people think that having a small animal such as a gerbil in the house with a dog is asking for trouble. Some dogs are more predatory than others and might want to kill a gerbil or other small animal if introduced. Other dogs are gentle to small animals and can live quite happily in the house with a gerbil. While not all dogs can learn to be kind to gerbils, certain dogs, especially younger ones, are capable of living in harmony with a small fur sibling.

Step 1

Get your dog used to gerbils while he is still a puppy. A dog that grows up with gerbils is less likely to see them as prey.

Step 2

Put your dog and gerbil in two separate rooms. Bring the leashed dog into the room with the gerbil and remain by the door. Enlist the help of a friend or family member so one person is supervising an animal at all times.

Step 3

Sit down next to your dog and try to get the dog's attention by petting or offering treats. Ask for any obedience commands the dog might know and reward the correct behavior.

Step 4

Ask your helper to entice the gerbil to take a few small steps toward the dog. Try to keep the dog's attention on you and reward her with food treats for calm behavior.

Step 5

Move slightly closer to the gerbil with your dog. Sit on the floor and pet your dog, encouraging calm behavior for approximately five minutes. Close the gap only if your dog is calm. Take a step back if your dog is getting excited or agitated at having the gerbil in the same room.

Step 6

Allow the dog to wander the room on-leash only once he is able to remain calm in close proximity to the gerbil. Keep the leash loose but watch carefully in case the dog lunges and you need to pull him back.

Step 7

Permit the dog and gerbil more freedom to interact under close supervision. Muzzle the dog to be on the safe side, and be prepared to separate them if necessary. Gradually increase the length of time you allow the dog and gerbil to interact until they are comfortable together and you're confident that they will not harm one another.


  • Do not leave your dog unsupervised with a small animal such as a gerbil, even if you trust her not to harm the gerbil.

  • Never introduce your dog to a gerbil if he has killed a small animal in the past, if he is aggressive over food, treats and toys, if he obsesses over chasing rabbits and squirrels, or if he is not obedient.


  • Feed the dog and gerbil treats when they are in the same room to create a positive association with each other.

  • Leave the gerbil in his cage if you do not have a helper.

Items You Will Need

  • Leash
  • Helper
  • Treats
  • Muzzle
  • Gerbil cage