ِAre Golden Retrievers Good with Small Animals? 7 Steps to Introduce Them

Golden Retrievers are the perfect companions and the ultimate family dogs, but what if you want more than one companion. What if your spouse already has a pet? What if your kid wants a smaller pet?

Living with more than one pet can be difficult, but if they can get along well, it will take a huge load off your back.

So, are golden retrievers good with small animals? Yes, Golden Retrievers are good with small animals because they are gentle, affectionate, and easy to train. You can train your golden retriever to get along with small animals in the house relatively easily by doing the introduction right and supervising them for a few weeks.

But what makes golden retrievers good with small animals and how you can make this introduction is what you should be actually concerned about.

The guide below can help you introduce your golden retriever to any animal smaller than them. However, for even more concrete steps with specific animals in mind, I have created more detailed guides as follows:

Now, let’s discuss the specific steps that allows you to help your golden retriever get along with any smaller animal;

How to introduce a dog to a smaller animal?

a golden retriever with a cat to illustrate why are golden retrievers good with small animals

Here is how you can introduce any dog to smaller anmials:

  1. Introduce them to the smell
  2. Ask a friend for help
  3. Choose a good time and place
  4. Make the first introduction
  5. Let the small animal free
  6. Let the dog off the leash
  7. Supervise their interactions

Let’s take a look at each of these steps and how you can execute them perfectly.

Introduce the smell

There is a very good trick used to introduce newborn babies to dogs which is to bring a blanket or something that smells like the baby home first to let the dog get familiar with the baby before they arrive home.

You can use the same trick to introduce your small animal to your dog before you bring them home. Get something that smells like them and let the dog get familiar with the smell. This will make the first introduction less of a surprise for the dog.

Ask a friend for help

It’s a really good idea to ask your partner, friend, or family member to help you with the first introduction. Chances are it will go smoothly, but an extra sets of hand and eyes can give you even more control over the introduction, which can only be helpful.

The friend can usually help by holding the small animal while you hold on to the dog’s leash.

Choose a good time and place

For the time: It must be later in the day after your dog has had their daily exercise. The goal is to have the dog calm but not sleepy.

If your dog still has plenty of energy, they can easily get too excited during the introduction, and if they are too sleepy, they can be cranky during the introduction or just very uninterested as they simply want to go to sleep.

You can learn other ways to calm down your golden retriever here, by the way.

For the place: The first introduction must be done somewhere neutral where neither animal feels territorial. Stay away from rooms where they usually eat or sleep, and instead make the first introduction outside the house or in a neutral space such as the living room.

Make the first introduction

For the first introduction, you want to have both animals under control. Depending on the animal, you may need to put them in a kennel, cage, or put them on a leash.

Your dog must be on a leash for this first introduction, and you must go about introducing them slowly.

Dogs, and most other animals, learn about other animals through smell, so they should be able to smell each other. You can have something separating them but also allows them to see each other clearly and smell each others’ scents.

Let the small animal free

If the first introduction goes well, with no animal getting stressed out, anxious, or aggressive, you can let the small animal free around the dog but keep the dog leashed.

This will let the dog get more comfortable with the small animal roaming around them and roaming free in the house while also letting the small animal feel comfortable and safe around the larger dog.

The dog should stat leashed for at least one more week while the small animal roams freely around them. Constant supervision will tell you when the dog is 100% comfortable with the situation.

Let the dog off the leash

After one to three weeks of the first introduction, your dog should be comfortable with the presence of the small animal.

Now it’s time to remove the leash off the dog and let them both spend time together unrestricted but still supervised.

Supervise their interactions

For the following weeks, and possibly months, you should keep a close eye on their interactions and closely monitor their body languages. This will allow you to make sure neither of them is hurting the other and that both are getting along nicely.

Whenever something goes wrong, you should immediately separate them and work on the introduction again. You may need to repeat a step one or more times.

8 Pro tips for introducing dogs to smaller animals

Here are a few very useful tips to help you introduce your dog to any smaller animal and can make the process easier:

  1. Remove their favorite possessions temporarily
  2. Feed them at different spots
  3. Don’t favor
  4. Never allow fighting or rough play
  5. Understand the body language of both animals
  6. Keep the sessions short
  7. Understand that it’s a process
  8. Be patient, persistent, and consistent

Here is a break down of these tips:

Remove their possessions temporarily

While some dogs may be okay with the new animal living under the same roof as them, they may not be acceptant of them playing with their favorite toys, even if this toy is an old stick they grabbed from the park.

To eliminate the risk of aggression over small things, remove all their favorite possessions temporarily until both animals get along with each other well enough that you can bring back their favorite toys.

Feed them at different spots

Dogs can also be quite territorial around their feeding spots, so you will need to dedicate different spots for both animals, at least at the beginning.

Depending on the animal and how well they are getting along with the dog, you may start to get their feeding spots closer to each other if it’s possible.

Don’t favor

Dogs can get really jealous and it can make them aggressive towards the other animals if you show the other animal more attention, affection, and love than you show your dog.

Dogs are like kids in this regard very much, and they can act mean and aggressive when they get jealous as kids do. You can learn more about why golden retrievers can be mean here.

Avoid carrying the other animal in front of your dog, avoid spending too much time with them – especially time that you used to spend with your dog, and never leave your dog in the middle of a play session to go to the other animal.

Never allow fighting or rough play

Dogs are likely to be a lot larger than your new pet, especially if they are large dogs like golden retrievers, and that means they can be a lot stronger than them.

That’s why you will need to teach your dog to play more gently with the small animal and with a lot less energy than they do with other dogs or even when they play with you.

And, of course, you should stop any fighting once you see the signs. Break fights immediately and separate the two animals and don’t allow them back to the same place until they calm down completely.

Understand the body language of both animals

While you may be fluent in your dog’s body language and can understand what every move they do means, you may not be as fluent in the body language of the other animal, but you need to be.

Take some time to understand how the other animal expressed their feelings and emotions in order to be able to identify when they are getting stressed, anxious, or scared when they are around your dog.

Keep the sessions short

It’s a good idea to keep the introduction sessions to a few minutes at the beginning of the introduction process and then gradually increase the time of each session as the two animals get familiar with each other.

Long sessions can put a lot of stress on either animal and they can associate this stress and anxiety with the other pet, which will make the process of introducing them and getting them familiar with each take much longer than it needs to be.

Understand that it’s a process

Introducing your dog and smaller animal to each other is not a do-it-and-forget-it kind of thing, but instead is an ongoing process that take weeks and months.

You need to understand that in order to be okay with any setbacks, delays, or problems that can occur. It’s totally fine if you need to roll back to a previous step in the process and repeat it to get it right.

You are unlikely to get every step right from the first time, so you should be ready to rinse and repeat with the same high spirit as you did the first time.

Be patient, persistent, and consistent

Patience, persistence, and consistency are your keys to success in introducing your dog to a smaller animal.

You must be patient and let the process take it’s time. You must also be persistence in your sessions and steps, and you should be consistent in your instructions and what’s allowed and what’s not.

You can’t allow one animal certain things that the other animal isn’t allowed to do. They both should be treated equally and you should be persistent and consistent in everything you do with them.

That’s it. You are now completely ready to welcome a smaller animal in your house and introduce them to your golden retriever.

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Related Questions

Can golden retrievers live with small dogs?

Yes, Golden Retrievers can live with small dogs in the same house and they can get along with them well if they are both trained, socialized, and you can introduce them to each other properly and keep an eye on them for the first few weeks of living together.

Do Golden Retrievers get jealous?

Yes, Golden Retrievers can get jealous when they feel they are being ignored for another human or animal. Golden Retrievers can get jealous of your partner, kid, or new pet if you ignore them, change their routines too much, or show the other pet or person more affection than the dog.

However, jealously is not a big problem in golden retrievers and it’s more common in other breeds. Your golden retriever is also unlikely to show aggression over their jealousy.

Is a lab or a golden retriever better?

While both are excellent family dogs, golden retrievers are considered to be better than labs especially as family dogs. Labs do shed less than golden retrievers and need less grooming and care, but golden retrievers tend to be more affectionate, loving, and gentler than labrador retrievers.

Helpful Resources

How to introduce a dog and cat – Animal Humane Society

How to introduce dogs

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