How to introduce dog to Chinnchillas

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Well-known member
Dec 11, 2011
Hello Everyone,

We adopted an 8 month old Pit Bull Terrier from the shelter a few weeks ago. She is crazy and young and active and fun, but I have been keeping my chins in my sons room for now. The dog did not know we had chins for a long time, but she can hear them sometimes in the room and starts barking. Well my question is, how do I introduce them to each other. I do not plan to ever have them out together, but I would like to have our chinnies back in the living room, since they like watching TV and hanging out by the fireplace with us. So our dog hangs out in the living room. How can I have them together without either one going crazy.

I did try this about a week or so ago. I was holding our dog and had plenty of snacks, and made sure she was calm and tired. We wheeled in our cage slowly and put them on the opposite side of the room. The do right away wanted to go over there, and would start crying, but it did not seem she wanted to be friends, I would rub her belly and give her snacks and just talk to her calmly, but she was lazered in on the chins.

I have heard that my breed of dogs have the prey drive in them, so I am not sure if this will ever be possible where we can all hang out in the room again. Anyone who has suggestions I would greatly appreciate them

P.S. While we were purchasing our house, we were staying with some friends while waiting on the paperwork to finalize. They had kittens, and at times they would sneek in the room with the chinnies; they were more curious than anything, by my Nanuk (female) chin, would bite them every chance she could when they would stick there face next to the cage. She would literally try and reach for them to try and beat them up. As far as when they were out with the dog, the chins seemed to careless about him, the dog on the other hand was very interested in them.

I would keep them separate, at least, until the dog is used to his new environment and learns to 'chill out' - You may never be able to have them in the same room. A lot of people on this forum would say to never do it anyway. I do have my chins with dogs and cats. However my dogs are big friendly lovers of other animals/people and actually totally ignore the chins. I, of course, NEVER let my chins loose with the dogs and/or cats.
I would keep them separate, at least, until the dog is used to his new environment and learns to 'chill out' - You may never be able to have them in the same room. A lot of people on this forum would say to never do it anyway. I do have my chins with dogs and cats. However my dogs are big friendly lovers of other animals/people and actually totally ignore the chins. I, of course, NEVER let my chins loose with the dogs and/or cats.

I agree, I will never let them out together but would love to have them in the same room. I think you are right, we are training her currently, and teaching her doggy manners so that she listens and calms down. We are also making sure that she meets tons of new people so that she can get accustomed to others and different environments. Thanks.
I have a pitbull as well. He is pretty laid back but he will go over and sniff at them and get them all upset so I have an xpen around their cage area so he cant get to them to bug them. He doesnt bark at them though... maybe if he saw them he wouldnt bark? perhaps it is the unknown that is making him bark. Has he ever lived with animals before?

Introductions should always happen after extensive exercise ESPECIALLY with pitbulls. Take him on an hour to 2 hours walk because pitbulls do not exhaust easily at all and if he is still hyper it won't go well. I have learned that very quickly.

Also, backpacks for dogs are a great tool for pitbulls. We fill ours with water bottles because the weight helps them work out the energy.

I would go on some pitbull forums too for some tips on how to introduce to other pets. A good one is
Thanks Tillygizmo, those are some great ideas and I will check out that site....
An xpen around the cages helps but an exuberant or determined dog will just move the pen. You have to work on control first, then teach the dog that chinchillas are off limits. With some dogs, this is much easier said than done.

My lab has been around chinchillas since he was a puppy and he completely ignores them unless there is a crying baby. Then he wakes me up or comes to get me.

Meg, my Border Collie, seems the think the chinchillas are her 'sheep' and that she needs to monitor them. She gets very upset at me when I move the chinchillas from one cage to another (she knows where each chinchilla is 'supposed' to be).

I've had Meg for a year and a half. As first, she would just check on the chinchillas every time she entered the room by looking into all the cages that are at her eye level (5 cages). After she checked on everyone, she pretty much ignored them. The chins ignored her and didn't seem bothered so I allowed that, but then she started removing water bottles from the cages and trying to make the chinchillas move by bumping the cage doors with her nose, so I had to put an xpen around the cages and she's not allowed to be in their room unless supervised or crated.
An xpen around the cages helps but an exuberant or determined dog will just move the pen. You have to work on control first, then teach the dog that chinchillas are off limits. With some dogs, this is much easier said than done.
Thanks for adding this! It is definitely key. My dog is pretty could about staying in his area and not going near what is off limits but not all dogs are.
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These are all great suggestions, I did buy a backpack already for my pit, and it was the easiest walk I have ever had with her. She loves pulling on her leash even with the special ones that are suppose to curb that behavior, but with the backpack, I loaded it up with water bottles, plastic bags, my keys and my phone, and she pulled very minimally, and never jumped up. She even let some random strangers pet her without getting all jumpy. I will definitely use the other suggestions that were given to me...Thanks again.
She's still a puppy and all dogs, especially terriers, have a very high prey drive. You might want to look into hiring a professional trainer or taking her to obedience classes. I also agree with walking her/giving her exercise but be aware she will likely still be really high energy both due to her breed and age. For now, keep them separate since it will be stressful for everyone to have them together. Slowly, as she adjusts and starts taking commands/ can try again to introduce them. My chins are in my basement and my dog will walk over and look at them but she never bothers them in any aggressive way. It's actually pretty funny...the chins will stick their little hands out and touch her nose and it freaks HER out...she's a scaredy dog lol! I hope it works is always a challenge adding a new pet, but I am sure that if you stick with it, you will come up with a situation that works and isn't stressful :)
I have 4 pits, and some exhibit prey drive while the others dont, But one thing they have in common is they want to get at the chins if they ever run up to the chin room. All dogs instinctively can have prey drive, not just pit bulls. It is not in their breed, it is a canine thing.

Take it very very slow, your dog may never be ok with the chins and you may have to keep them closed off in a separate room. Don't ever leave the dog alone in the chins room or near the cage. My one dog literally bashes the cages with his head to try and get in them. You can never be too careful.

Reward only behavior that you want the dog to repeat. Don't offer treats just to distract the dog, because you could be rewarding behavior that you don't necessarily want. If the dog is sitting and being calm with the chins in the same room, treat the dog. If the dog is fixated and trying to charge towards the chins cage, don't treat, wait until the dog can give you her attention and then treat. Using a clicker may help form certain behaviors that you want her to repeat.

It wouldn't hurt to consult a positive behaviorist or trainer either, and since she is a puppy, obedience classes definitely wont hurt and in fact would be recommended by anyone.

Hope you find a happy medium for the two and good luck :) But don't expect them to be best friends. Even the most calm dog can show signs of prey drive, regardless of what breed they are.
There are several ways I would not do this. Firstly the dog knows they're there, by thinking she doesn't you're extremely underestimating her. I would not take the chins out of their environment to show her. That's putting them in her territory, and making them more uncomfortable. You need to have her be more uncomfortable. I would not give her any snacks or treats while trying to introduce them either, whats one snack or a chin snack? That will set a response that the chins equal food. Classic bell training theory.

I would simply allow the dog into the room with the chins, on leash if needed, and let her smell the chins and what not. If she gets too aggressive or gets into "play mode" jerk back the leash indicating this is not acceptable behavior with this other pet.

Pit bulls are not bad dogs, but they need a special kind of owner. Some breeds do. Weimaraners are that was as well. If your dog is hyper as you say, and you are not able to control her when needed without the chins, then I think you need to work there. Ceasar Milan works with being the pack leader, this is how ALL owners should be. I would recommend reading some books by him and start by establishing yourself if you have not done that yet.
Nicole, I would have to disagree with your suggestions - Caesar Milan is not the kind of trainer I suggest anyone with a pit bull takes their advice from (or any dog owner) as the pack leader/dominance theory is no longer accepted by most trainers and professional organizations. And giving treats for positive interaction will not make her associate the chins themselves as food - it will make her realize being gentle or ignoring the chins gets her food.

My first suggestion is to let your girl settle in. Dogs should have a minimum of two weeks to really get used to your home before you start doing much training/introducing to new things (it's called the two week shut down). That will let you get to know her real personality. Also, she's a puppy, and pit bull puppies stay puppy-like until they're 2 or 3 (my two year old male is just starting to settle down). Pit bull puppies are excitable, which means the "new" chinchillas (although they were there first) trigger excitement, prey drive or otherwise - make sure you give her enough exercise and mental stimulation (mental stimulation is JUST as important in intelligent breeds like the pit) before doing anything.

Also, before trying to intro, I'd clicker-train her. Click-treat-click-treat until she associates the clicker sound with a positive event.

Then, start slowly introducing her. Make sure there is an x-pen or baby gate between her and the actual cage so she can't get to the chins through the bars. Having her on-leash is a good idea, but don't reprimand her for lunging or something - tell her "leave it" and get her attention back to you, then click-treat. If she's interacting gently or ignoring them, tell her "good leave it" or "good gentle" and click-treat. Do this for longer periods over a period of time until you can remove the barrier, then keep the door to the room open, then move the chins back out.

Don't expect immediate results and be patient. Pit puppies go through phases where they just lose their brains because life is so exciting, but they're smart dogs and they can learn. However, don't be surprised if she just can't be around them. My male pit is too interested for me to feel comfortable even allowing him in my chinchilla area, although he doesn't exhibit prey drive or aggression in any other situation.

Good luck.
Thank you Dee. Well said and I 100% agree.

Using Caesar Milans methods would only be setting Pit trainers and rescues back. They/We have accomplished so much over the past few years, with education and putting a positive label on pit bulls. It would only be irresponsible to use his training on your dog.

Take what Dee says seriously and look into real training for your dog, clicker training works amazingly well. I've used it with all my dogs. Pits are very active, and will be like that for years! My 4 and 5 year olds still act like puppies. So be prepared for a long road ahead if you don't look into training her now, the proper way that is. You will thank yourself in the future, and so will your dog :)
Thanks everyone great ideas and suggestions. I definitely have a good starting point now, and can use your suggestions to just build on that. I know that she hears them and knows they are on the house, but she has stopped barking when she hears them at night. She has also learned that she is not allowed to go into the hallway where the rooms are, which is where the chinchillas are. So a long road, I would have to agree, but a rewarding one. She is currently teething as well, so I will wait for this phase to pass before even letting her see them.
Gizmo & Liam

We just adopted a one-month old puppy from PAWS of Chicago. He is a Terrior mix named Liam and we love him and his energy!! However, our chinchilla, Gizmo, doesn't feel the same way. We need to keep them separate at all times! When they get close enough together Gizmo bites Liam! Liam doesn't do anything to Gizmo, but she has bad memories of dogs in the past before we adopted her. Liam is still in "the cone of shame" because he was neutered while he was at PAWS. Is there ever going to be a time that they can play together?

We are keeping the two separated at all times... by three levels of bars. Liam (terrier) is such a small dog though, she is still about double Gizmo's size though. But only double, not quadruple... we had hopes that they could get along... I've seen wonderful relationships emerge between the most unlikely pairs of animals, dogs & cats, cats & rats, dogs & ferrets etc.