Pets are wonderful companions to humans, but sometimes they just can’t get along with each other. As a pet owner, it’s stressful and sad to see when your pets are enemies instead of friends. Lizards and dogs would seem like natural enemies but that doesn’t have to be true.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent hostility between pets, even before adoption. For instance, if you have a dog and want him to get along with a lizard, there are specific lizard breeds you should adopt that are more likely to get along with your dog than others.
Here are three top lizard choices that will be great companions for you and your dog.
Bearded dragons are a top beginner pet for you and your dog because of their sociability and their calm demeanor. They are very curious, and they use their tongue to examine their environment. They have many social gestures, and while they typically display those gestures to other beardies, you can mimic some of the gestures, and it may respond!
When a bearded dragon is threatened or wants to appear dominant, they will puff out their spiky beard, and sometimes the beard will turn black. They may also try to chase away threats, stare them down, or circumduct by bobbing their heads and rotating one of their arms in circles. If they feel threatened, they may run away.
Before you introduce your dog to any lizard, make sure your dog has had plenty of positive experiences interacting with other animals. Interacting with cats, chickens, or just other dogs will dramatically help your dog get along with new animals like lizards. Additionally, you should always bring both your lizard and your dog to the vet before they meet. If your bearded dragon is captive bred, it is likely parasite-free, but it can still be a carrier for other illnesses. Finally, you should wash your hands before handling your lizard.
Introduce a bearded dragon to your dog
- Approach your dragon slowly before picking it up. For babies, place a finger under the chin, then extend it under the dragon’s body before transferring it to your hand. For older dragons, simply scoop your hand under its body, supporting it fully in your palm with its head facing your fingertips. Support its tail with your upper arm. You can rest your thumb lightly on its shoulders.
- Keep your dog on a loose leash, and let him sniff your lizard. Give him positive reinforcement by petting him.
- End the interaction and try again at a later time if your dog starts to growl or bark, or his fur prickles, as these are signs of aggression.
- If your lizard is squirming, you can put a hand over its head. If they try to run, do not grab him. Instead, try to trap him under a cupped hand.
Like beardies, leopard geckos are great beginner pets, and taking care of a gecko is easy. They are docile, friendly, and love to be held once they’re acclimated to their owner. They love to explore their environment and will climb on anything if you let them.
Leopard geckos also make a lot of vocalizations like chirps, barks, or hisses to express themselves. Male leopard geckos are territorial towards other male leopard geckos, but otherwise, they can get along well with other pets.
Introduce leopard gecko to your dog
- Hold your leopard gecko during the whole first interaction. To hold him, lay your hand down flat then gently guide the gecko onto your palm. As you carry him, keep your palm flat and make sure his feet and tail are entirely supported.
- Move slowly to avoid startling either of your animals.
- If your gecko is stressed, he will make a barking sound, hiss, or wave his tail. If he becomes extremely fearful, he will drop the tail altogether; this is a severe consequence of stress and should be avoided. If any of these things happen, end the interaction, or give them a short break.
- Again, keep your dog on a loose leash and provide positive reinforcement.
Blue-tongued skinks are less social than bearded dragons and leopard geckos, but they are just as docile. They are flighty when they’re still getting to know you, but they are easy to tame and will grow more comfortable around you in a short amount of time.
Although these skinks are rarely aggressive, your dog may scare them. When threatened, the skink will stick out its blue tongue, hiss, and puff out its body to look bigger. Like the leopard gecko, the blue-tongued skink can drop its tail if it becomes too frightened.
Introduce a blue-tongued skink to your dog
Introducing a blue-tongued skink to your dog will be very similar to introducing a leopard gecko.
Your dog should be on a loose leash and should be given positive reinforcement, and your gecko should be held gently in the palm of your hand the whole time. With the blue-tongued skink, however, you need to make sure the lizard is very comfortable around you before you try introducing him to your dog; the skink will likely be scared of your dog at first, and it will not be comforting for him if he is afraid of you too. Additionally, you will have to be extra vigilant about making slow movements and should keep the interaction short.
Final thoughts on lizards and dogs
Although there are differences in how you should introduce lizards and dogs, bearded dragons, leopard geckos, and blue-tongued skinks can become great friends for your canine companion.
As long as you are careful and keep the animals’ safety in the front of your mind, the introduction will go smoothly, and they will be off to a great start!
Johnathan David is the editor of Everything Reptiles, a fourth-generation reptile keeper and wildlife biologist.