canine companion pets for your dog
General Dog Talk

Friends for Lonely Dogs: 6 Pets that Live Well With Dogs

If you’re a Houston Dog Mom or Pet Parent, you may be worried that your dog gets lonely. That’s more true as we go from 2 years at home to our “old life” back in the office or out and about with friends.

Do you think your dog might want a friend? When it comes down to it, your dog sleeps most of the day when you are gone. But having a playmate may do wonders for their demeaner, keep loneliness at bay and make pet parents feel a little less guilt.

Here are 6 pets that do well with dogs.

1. Two Dogs Are Better Than One!

The first idea of a canine companion is always a second dog. If your dog does well meeting other dogs while on walks or at a friend’s house, this may work out for you!

If your dog is a pup, getting one around the same age or slightly older can work out well. It’s more work to potty-train two than one, but if one is slightly older, he/she can show the younger one the ropes! Others prefer waiting until their first dog is a little older, with a gap of 3-5 years between dogs.

Be aware that dogs close in age sometimes develop aggression toward each other around the age of 2 or 3 as they come to maturity. Make sure you fully train both dogs.

When you bring in a new dog, just know that your first dog may be requiring some extra care and affection to get used to the change. Just as with siblings everywhere, a rivalry may develop. Make sure each dog gets some time with you.

Pro tip: If your dog is aging, you may need to look into stocking 2 types of food. Consider soft food for old dogs so that they can eat without any issues.

We always recommend checking local animal shelters or breed specific rescues. Houston has a surprising number of mixed breed and purebred dogs at its shelters. And breed specific rescues abound, from Dachshund to Great Dane and everything in between.

Before bringing home a new dog, research the steps to introduce a new dog to your existing dog.

When you get your new canine companion for your canine, remember the rule of 3’s.

the rule of 3 days 3 weeks 3 months for new dogs adopted

2. Cats as a Dog Companion

Although there is a stereotype that cats and dogs are archenemies, you’ll be surprised to know that they are actually quite compatible when raised together.

If you adopt from an animal shelter or a foster-based rescue, you can often find out ahead of time if a dog is cat friendly and vice-versa.

In order for them to live in harmony, you need to follow the advice given to you by experts and supervise the two pets, analyzing their interactions to see if they get along or not.

This website has a 7-step checklist to introduce a dog to a cat. One of the steps is allowing the pets to see each other through a divider such as a baby gate. Allow them to get used to each other’s scent first. And always allow your cat to have an escape route, somewhere that the dog can’t follow.

And, be sure to secure your litter box! Dogs are notorious for sneaking “snacks” out of the litter.

3. Lizards Can be Good Friends for Dogs

In researching this piece, we were surprised to find the lizards can be a popular pet friend for dogs. One of our rescue friends shared adorable pictures of their rescue pups and cats playing with a rescue lizard! So of course we had to ask their advice and for some cute pix!

For us, a slow introduction was key. We let the animals see Spike the Bearded Dragon through the glass for a few weeks before introducing him to them. We let them smell him and get close to him, for a few minutes. And we repeated that a lot every day. Once we felt comfortable we let Spike roam around, but always with supervision of course.

– Estie, adopter and rescuer
local houston dog and lizard are friends

4. Ferrets Are Amazing Playmates

Ferrets are popular pets for apartment dwellers, and, as with cats, above, they can be great friends for your dogs.

Some dogs can be extremely playful and can tire you out while still maintaining their own wish to play. Enter, the ferret to save the day! A ferret will bring an enormous amount of energy and enthusiasm to the home, and your dog will love every bit of it!

That being said, you need to introduce them properly and see if they build a connection first before letting them play on their own. Introduce them first with your ferret in a cage. Allow the animals to smell each other and get used to each other. Then, get a friend to help you introduce the pets with both on a leash. Even after a slow introduction, recommends that you supervise them at all times.

Just remember, dogs are predatory by nature, and ferrets would be a source of food for them in the wild. Also remember that ferrets have very sharp teeth that could hurt your canine companion.

5. Rabbits Can Be a Hopping Buddy for Dogs

Rabbits are surprisingly popular as a pet. Or maybe not surprising…cute, fluffy and able to be potty trained, they are a common addition to the pet-loving home.

As with cats, you may initially think that your dog and rabbit will be enemies. But take the time to make the introduction slowly and soon the dog will think of the bunny as a friend, not food.

As with the cat introduction steps, make sure that any play is supervised initially. Allow your dog to smell the rabbit and vice versa. Make it clear that the rabbit is not a chase or squeaky toy. On-leash, allow your dog to approach the rabbit, maintaining control at all times. Continue to have regular play-dates under your control until you feel like the risk of a 1-sided game of chase is gone.

Due to the size difference between a rabbit and dog, we do not recommend allowing them to play together unsupervised, unless your dog is under 20 pounds. While a cat has claws for defense, a rabbit’s duller claws and slow speed are no match for a dog if play gets out of hand.

6. Ranch Animals Can Be Friends with Dogs

Since we live in Houston, it obviously doesn’t make sense to consider a cow or horse as a friend for your dog.

However, if you have the opportunity to have a hill country home, consider allowing your dog to meet different animals around the farm, such as donkeys, goats, horses or cows.

If you have a herding breed dog, you may be surprised at their innate behavior. The first time Doug Dog was on a ranch, he immediately went out to the pasture and brought the cows in. Now, he didn’t do as well when he went to get the bulls. But as a novice, he was pretty good.

Make sure you have a good “here/come/spot” command for your dog, or keep them on a long line and secure collar when introducing them to ranch animals. Your dog should never be allowed to interact with ranch animals without the rancher’s permission.

A kick from a ranch animal could easily injure or kill your dog. Make sure to monitor their interactions until they are used to the animals.

In Conclusion

Whether you have prior knowledge or not, bringing in a new member to the family will always take time for adjustment. Your dog may be initially frustrated by a cat inside the house but they become best friends later on. It is truly all about the love and affection shared with each other that creates a bond between all animals, even humans.



HoustonDogMom Rebecca G. is a Houston-based dog lover and shelter volunteer.