This article was contributed by guest writer, N. Robert.
Do Dogs and Lizards Get Along? The Best Species of Reptiles for Friendship
It may seem like lizards and dogs are too different to ever get along, and it is true that your beardie and your boxer will never be “friends” in the same way that two dogs or a dog and a cat might be, but they can form a relationship. Many of the same gentle species that are recommended for beginners will be good candidates for befriending a dog.
However, no matter how friendly they appear to be, playtime between your dog and your lizard should always be closely supervised, especially when the difference in size between the two animals will make it easy if not likely that the dog will accidently injure the lizard with excessive excitement or overly boisterous play.
How to Introduce a Dog and Lizard
When introducing a lizard into a house that is already home to a dog, the most important thing to remember is to introduce them slowly, working in gradual stages of increasing interaction. First bring your dog into the room where the lizard’s terrarium is kept, and let the dog explore and sniff the terrarium, with the lizard inside. Remember to read the room and watch your dog’s behavior; if they seem agitated or overly aggressive, take them out of the room and give them a chance to calm down before you try again.
If they are calm and well-behaved, you can reward them with treats and praise. Continue these sessions for increasing lengths of time, until your dog can basically ignore the terrarium. Only then should you try to introduce the two in person. Make sure to have two people on hand, one to handle each animal and remove them if the situation becomes tense or the animals agitated.
Finding the Best Kind of Lizard for Your Family
Another important thing to keep in mind while introducing your two pets is that they only need to be as familiar with each other as your desires and their safety dictates. Which is to say, that keeping your lizard in one room your dog is never allowed to enter is certainly an option. If you are interested in fostering a cross-species friendship, however, the species listed here are some of your best bets for striking up a good relationship with a canine companion.
- Blue-tongued skink – The blue-tongued skink is popular with amateur lizard keepers because of its eponymous bright blue tongue, a striking and unique physical characteristic used in the wild to disorient and dissuade potential predators. In addition to their looks, blue-tongued skinks also have a great personality, and the same easy-going manner and love of handling that makes them a great pet also makes them a good choice for dog owners.
- Leopard gecko – The leopard gecko is another favorite among amateur lizard keepers, beloved for their striking pattern and expressive faces. Their seemingly happy expressions are a good bellwether for their personalities as well, as leopard geckos are friendly, affectionate (as far as lizards go), and easy to handle. They are also crepuscular, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk – these may be great times to take them out and let them interact, under supervision, with your dog.
- Savannah monitor – The savannah monitor, so named for the African savannahs it inhabits in the wild, is a little bit smaller (“only” reaching five feet in length at most) and much less aggressive than the better-known Nile monitor lizard. Savannah monitors are incredibly docile, even lazy; their favorite activities are burrowing in their substrate and doing nothing. For this reason, a healthy relationship with a dog could even be a benefit to your savannah monitor, as it would encourage them to exercise and limit the weight gain that often plagues this species when kept in captivity.
- Bearded dragon – The bearded dragon, or beardie, is one of if not the most popular pet lizard, especially for children and beginner lizard keepers, and with good reasons. Beardies are friendly, docile, happy to be handled, easy to care for, and absolutely adorable. For dog owners, beardies are a great option because of their gentle, sociable personalities. Unless your dog is particularly boisterous or energetic, they should be able to safely strike up a sort of friendship with your bearded dragon, and the two can play together under human supervision. One thing to watch out for is any scratches the beardie gives your dog, as they (and many lizards) can convey harmful bacteria that might make your dog sick, even from a minor scratch.
- Argentine black-and-white tegu – The Argentine black-and-white tegu is a large and visually striking lizard, that on first glance might seem far too intimidating to make a good pet. However, their large size gives them the security that means they do not have to be aggressive, and they are instead among the most docile of all the tegus. That same size (around three feet for females, and five for males) also makes them a good option for dog owners because they do not have to be as concerned about an overly energetic dog accidently injuring the lizard. Tegus are also noted for their intelligence, and have even been known to be housebroken.
Dogs and lizards are indeed an unlikely pair of friends, but not an impossible one. With a well-chosen lizard and a careful introduction, there is no reason your dog and your lizard cannot become an affectionate animal odd couple for the ages!