Can hedgehogs and terriers get along? Socialization is a problem!
Yes, absolutely … with a properly socialized terrier you can!
Terriers, by reproduction, are hunters. Most terrier breeds were used to eradicate vermin and pests, and help hunt foxes, weasels, otters, badgers, etc. Our 5 terriers are great little hunters and still have great instincts. They love to chase squirrels, birds, insects … 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 with your terriers … Well, let me tell you from experience that it is possible.
I know, I know … You’re thinking that a hedgehog has spikes and can protect itself and deter a terrier from attacking. In part, this is correct. However, at no time did any of our 5 terriers want to attack our African pygmy hedgehog.
If you properly socialize your terrier to accept other animals that are not considered threats, they can have a friendly relationship with other pets in your home. I was a bit apprehensive, especially about introducing our little Knosey, as she may be the “fiercest” of our minis, but everything went well and it’s still going well. There comes a point where you just have to trust your parenting skills …
Knosey, Precious, and Kurious sit next to our hedgehog, Kokonut Kreampuff’s cage, and long for Kokonut to honor them with his presence. Any little movement from the hedgehog piques their interest and they run to the cage to see everything Kokonut does. Our miniature schnauzers will even come to inform me that the hedgehog has woken up from his sleep and that he will come to see him. It’s the cutest thing.
I know … Now you’re saying, well the hedgehog is in a cage … I let the hedgehog get out of the cage without a problem either. In fact, our terriers fight over who can get the closest to the hedgehog.
They surround Kokonut as she walks around the house, not at all scared or bothered by her great friends, and “protect” her from going under furniture or in areas she is not supposed to go to. They are known to “lead” her to appropriate and safe areas of the house or bedroom.
Female terriers, especially, think he is a baby in the pack and try to take care of him. Kurious has been seen trying to gently lick the hedgehog’s ears and has even tried cautiously lifting Kokonut with his front teeth to move her to a better area. Amazing! What a maternal instinct! They know that it is small and vulnerable and they want to protect, groom and play with the hedgehog.
I know … Now you’re saying, well, this seems to be a very controlled environment. That’s what I laugh at … Even when the hedgehog is allowed to roam around the backyard a bit, our dogs continue to nurture his relationship with his little friend.
Kaptain, our male miniature schnauzer, runs around the yard with a large chest as a lookout to make sure nothing invades the yard and hurts the hedgehog. The girls take turns walking next to the hedgehog … Everything is so adorable!
The reason this works: Socialization!
When our terriers were puppies, we made sure to introduce them to a variety of people, animals, and pets. When you do, you should treat that person, animal, or pet the way you want your terrier to treat them. In the case of a child or pet, your terrier needs to know that the child or pet is important and should not be hurt.
Sit down with your terrier and this new friend, and tell your terrier that the friend is good. If it’s a pet, pet both animals (or the child’s leg / arm) to ease any uncomfortable feelings. Say good “the name of your pet / child“, Well”the name of your terrier“in a calm, reassuring voice to show them both are important in your books. This will show the animals how you want them to treat each other.
If any unsatisfying or aggressive behavior arises, you should nip it in the bud immediately by reprimanding your terrier or other pet accordingly. Remember: You’re in charge!
In the same way, you can train your terrier not to like another animal by being aggressive towards that animal … For example, if you do not appreciate squirrels in your backyard, you can teach your terrier to show aggression towards them and scare them . Again, they will take cues from your behavior, so make sure you send the right signals.
Dogs, especially terriers, are super smart and find it easy to learn to behave well and to behave in a mischievous way.
by Kimberly Edwards