Yes, absolutely…with a properly socialized terrier you can!
Terriers, by breeding, are hunters. Most terrier breeds were used to root out vermin and pests, and assist in hunting fox, weasel, otter, badger, etc…Our 5 terriers are great little hunters and still have great instinct. They love chasing squirrels, birds, bugs…anything that moves in our backyard.
Knowing this, you would think that having a small exotic animal as a pet would be out of the question around your terriers…Well, let me tell you from experience that it is possible.
I know, I know…You’re thinking that a hedgehog has quills and can protect itself and deter a terrier from attacking. In part, this is correct. However, at no time whatsoever have any of our 5 terriers wanted to attack our African pygmy hedgehog.
If you properly socialize your terrier to accept other animals that are not seen as threats, they can have a friendly relationship with other pets in your household. I was a little leery, especially about introducing our little Knosey, as she can be the most “fierce” of our minis, but it all went well and continues to go well. There comes a point where you just have to trust your parenting skills…
Knosey, Precious & Kurious sit next to the our hedgehog, Kokonut Kreampuff’s cage and pine away for Kokonut to grace them with her presence. Any small movement of the hedgie sparks their interest and they run to the cage to view anything that Kokonut does. Our miniature schnauzers will even come to inform me that the hedgie has awoken out of her sleep and to come and see. It is the cutest thing.
I know…Now you’re saying, well, the hedgehog is in a cage…I let the hedgehog out of the cage with no problems either. In fact, our terriers fight over who can get the closest to the hedgehog.
They encircle Kokonut as she walks around the house, not at all scared or bothered by her large friends, and they “protect” her from going under furniture or into areas she is not supposed to go. They have been known to “herd” her into appropriate and safe areas of the house or room.
The female terriers, especially, think that it is a baby in the pack and try to tend to it. Kurious has been seen trying to gently lick the hedgehog’s ears and has even attempted to gingerly pick up Kokonut with her front teeth to move her to a better area. Amazing! What motherly instincts! They know she is little and vulnerable and want to protect, groom and play with the hedgehog.
I know…Now you’re saying, well, this seems to be a very controlled environment. To that I snicker…Even when the hedgehog is allowed to roam a bit in the backyard, our dogs continue to nurture their relationship with their little friend.
Kaptain, our male miniature schnauzer, runs around the yard with a big chest as a lookout to make sure nothing is going to invade the yard and injure the hedgehog. The girls take turns walking next to the hedgie…It’s all so adorable!
The Reason This Works: Socialization!
We made certain when our terriers were puppies, to introduce them to a variety of people, animals and pets. When you do, you must treat that person, animal or pet how you want your terrier to treat them. In the case of a child or a pet, your terrier needs to know that the child or pet is important and not to be harmed.
Sit with your terrier and this new friend, and tell your terrier that the friend is good. If it is a pet, pet both of the animals (or leg/arm of child) to ease any uncomfortable feelings. Say, “Good “your pet’s/child’s name“, Good “your terrier’s name” in a calm, soothing voice to show them that they are both important in your books. This will display to the animals how you want them to treat each other.
If any behavior arises that is unsatisfactory or aggressive, you need to nip it in the bud immediately by reprimanding your terrier or other pet accordingly. Remember: You are in charge!
On the same token, you can train your terrier to dislike another animal by being aggressive yourself to that animal…For example, if you don’t appreciate the squirrels in your backyard, you can teach your terrier to show aggression towards them and scare them away. Again, they will take cues off of your behavior, so make sure you are sending the right signals.
Dogs, especially terriers, are super-intelligent and it is easy for them to learn good behaviors as well as naughty behavior!
by Kimberly Edwards