Spending time looking at an aquarium can bring significant health benefits. Watching fish swimming around a beautifully aquascaped tank reduces stress, lowers your blood pressure, and can even soothe Alzheimer’s patients.
Unfortunately, your fish tank can also attract the attention of your dog, sometimes with disastrous results!
So, how can you keep your dog away from your fish tank?
Read on for our eight top tips!
1. Keep Fido out!
Start by putting your fish tank in a room where your dog doesn’t go.
Perhaps you have a family room, lounge, home office, or maybe your bedroom that you keep as a dog-free zone. Although that sounds ridiculously simple, keeping your dog out of the room is the easiest way to keep your dog away from your fish tank.
When you leave your dog home alone or go up to bed at night, make sure that you shut the door to the room where your fish tank is kept.
2. Location, location, location
If you have a small betta tank or nano aquarium, you could set it on a countertop or high up on a shelf, well out of reach of your pet. Larger tanks should be set on sturdy purpose-built stands for safety and tucked out of reach in an alcove or another spot that’s awkward for your dog to get to.
If your dog can only access the front viewing pane, that will prevent him from sneaking around the sides and back of the tank, where he could get tangled in the cabling and potentially cause mayhem.
Don’t put the tank in the center of the room or adjacent to a doorway where frolicking Fido could wreak havoc as he dashes through.
As you can see, you shouldn’t have to choose between your dog and your fish tank, but instead, prepare and set up your aquarium the right way to set a boundary for your pets.
3. Introductions are crucial
How you introduce your dog to your aquarium is crucial, whether the tank or the dog are newcomers to your home.
Keep your dog leashed and allow him to check out the tank from a safe distance. That way, you can prevent your curious pup from jumping up to take a closer look at the fish, potentially tipping the tank over.
If your pet sniffs the tank and is content to sit and watch the fish swimming around, that’s great; you can remove the leash … happy days!
However, if your dog shows signs of aggression or excitement, and you think he might try to chase or grab the fish through the glass, you need to keep your pet out of the room. In the meantime, go back to your dog’s initial training to teach him to stay away from the tank.
4. Keep fish food off the menu!
Dogs often explore new sights and smells with their mouths, especially if it looks like a treat might be coming their way.
Commercially produced fish food often contains ingredients that smell yummy to dogs and cats, and the prospect of a snack might lure your pet too close to the fish tank. Prevent problems by keeping your fish food in a sealed, waterproof container and hide it in a cupboard that’s well out of your dog’s reach.
5. Keep your aquarium clean
Now, it should go without saying that you keep your fish tank clean, but that’s even more crucial if you have a dog in the house.
Dogs have an extremely keen sense of smell, and many pups love nothing more than diving into a smelly, stagnant pond in the park. So, if your fish tank isn’t kept clean, not only will that be bad for your fishes’ health, but the pong might also attract your dog.
A dead fish begins to decompose and stink extremely quickly, and that smell is guaranteed to catch the attention of your dog’s super-sensitive nose. Check your tank every day, carry out a headcount, and be sure to remove any deceased fish right away. Put the dead fish in a plastic bag, seal the bag, and dispose of it outside in your garbage can, well away from your dog and cat.
6. Train your dog!
Just as you can train your puppy not to chase your cat (yes, you really can!), you can train him not to show an unhealthy interest in your fish tank.
Dogs are predatory animals by nature, and they have what’s called a “prey chase drive.” The dog’s prey chase drive is triggered when an animal takes flight. The dog automatically chases after the perceived prey, and that can include fish flitting around in an aquarium.
Training a dog not to chase is a time-consuming process that takes a lot of patience on your part. So, if you’re not sure how to do it, take your dog to a professional dog trainer or behaviorist and get help.
You can prevent problems from arising by starting your pet’s training from day one when he’s still a puppy. Rescue dogs that are already adults are trickier, but retraining can still be successful given enough patience and time.
7. Set a fish tank alarm system
Another effective way of teaching your dog to stay away from your fish tank is to set up a motion sensor-controlled alarm system.
The alarm can take the form of loud noise or flashing light that spooks the dog when he gets too close to the tank. The system can be set according to your dog’s usual behavior. So, if your pet likes to jump up at the tank from the front or check it out from above, you should set the sensor where it will be most effective.
8. Distract your dog
Distraction can be a very effective way of keeping your dog away from your fish tank.
If you have a playful pooch, try having a few of his favorite toys on hand or perhaps a treat ball. Often, providing a more interesting alternative to the fish is all that’s needed to change your pet’s focus.
Another highly effective strategy is to provide your dog with a chew bone to keep him busy when he’s in the room with your fish tank. When it comes to munching on a tasty bone or running up and down in front of a bunch of fish that are out of reach, there’s absolutely no competition, and the bone wins almost every time!
Creating aquarium harmony
So, you see, your dog can live in perfect harmony with your fish tank if you follow these top tips.