Can You Keep Dogs And Tortoise At The Same House?

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Last night I watched a video of a tortoise playing with dogs and puppies. I know many keepers try to create such harmony among all their pets but fail. It raises the question of whether you should keep these two different types of animals in the same house.

Sometimes dogs and tortoises get along naturally and share the same common space. Even though they are friends, you must have separate rooms for them. Do not allow any interaction in your absence. Part the tortoise and dog immediately if you notice anything unusual in their behavior.

Catch more details below.

Key Takeaways

  • Dogs and tortoises can live in the same house with some general ground rules. For example, there must be separate rooms, less interaction, etc. Also, the tortoise enclosure should be secured with wired fences.
  • Train your dog accordingly before introducing it to the tortoise.
  • Never leave your tortoise alone with the dog. The dog may chew on the small tortoise, giving it permanent injuries.

Can Dogs And Tortoises Live In The Same House?

Honestly, the answer depends on several parameters. The most important one is your pet’s habitat type. If the tortoise is in a closed enclosure, inaccessible to dogs, then these animals can definitely live together.

But creating a co-habitat is troublesome when your tortoise lives in an open outdoor habitat. In such cases, tortoises and dogs will encounter each other at some point. So, any unexpected thing can happen.

Why Dogs And Tortoises Are Less Likely To Be Friends?

If you think logically, tortoises and dogs are totally different. In fact, none of their care requirements match.

Take the temperature requirements or feeding habits of these 2 animals. While tortoises need a specific temperature to thrive, dogs are born to survive the roughest weather.

Additionally, tortoises are totally into a herbivorous diet, while dogs are meat lovers. Again, tortoises and dogs share differences in body language and behaviors too.

For example, dogs love to be petted, and chasing is a fun game. On the contrary, tortoises are shy and prefer less handling. If these reptiles catch sight of another animal, they retract into their shell or hide in the burrow.

Hence, it seems like dogs and tortoises can not get along. Right?

Well, yes. In most cases, these 2 animals make the worst housemates. The dogs are always excited and love licking the owners or other companions. Such an approach can scare and stress the tortoises.

Furthermore, they tend to chew on things. The reptiles can get severely injured if the dogs bite the tortoises by mistake.

But hey! As they say, miracles happen!

Reportedly, many owners have successfully introduced their dogs to their tortoises. Both the animals get along just fine. Even the shy tortoises seem to enjoy the attention and excitement of the dogs. Check out this video.

But how do the owners make this possible? Keep reading to get the answer.

Why Are Tortoises Scared Of Dogs?

Tortoises are shy and quiet in nature. They prefer living a solitary life and demand personal territory. If anyone invades this safe space, tortoises mark them as a potential threat.

Now look at the nature of the dogs. They get excited at the tiniest thing. Last night, my puppy spent 3 hours chasing a silly butterfly.

Not to mention the over-friendly nature of the dogs. These animals bounce around strangers and sometimes bark for no reason at all.

This loud personality is enough to stress out the tortoises. In fact, these reptiles count anything bigger than themselves as a threat.

So, from all angles, dogs do not look friendly to tortoises. In the wild, dogs often feast on tortoise nests and hatchlings. Thus, you can not blame tortoises for taking dogs as a natural enemy.

Can A Dog Bite Kill A Tortoise?

Dogs are predators by nature. They are carnivorous, and even in the wild, these animals survive on their hunting skills.

When you house a tortoise and dog in the same house, there will be times these pets come face-to-face. In the heat of the moment, your overexcited dog may end up hurting the tortoise. For example, dog bites on the tortoise limbs and necks are common incidents.

Again, in most cases, tortoises tend to retract to their shell when the dogs are around. There are claims that dogs chew the hard shell of these reptiles out of curiosity. Though tortoise shells are strong, dog bites can puncture or make a hole in the scutes.

So, will a tortoise die because of a tortoise bite? Yes, if the teeth penetrate the limbs, skins, or shell, and the wounds go untreated.

The open cuts will entice infectious diseases, which may lead to necrosis. Sometimes, the infection reaches the bones, blood, and internal tissues, making the entire condition worse. 

A big no when the injury is minor and treated immediately.

Can All Dogs Make Friends With Tortoises?

The keepers often think all dogs are dangerous for tortoises or all of them are a good fit. Well, none of the beliefs is entirely true.

For example, you can not allow your pet tortoise to live with a wild dog in the same enclosure. The dog will not think twice before turning the reptile into a feast.

It means you have to be very particular when selecting a dog companion for your tortoises. Some useful tips are,

  • Welcome a dog who is already familiar with human touch and interaction. Sharing a house with other mates is easier for them.
  • Adopted dogs from the rescue shelter or with trauma may not be the best match for the tortoise. These dogs often act aggressively to the weaker pets.
  • Older dogs carry a mood, and they are barely interested in making new friends. Puppies and juvenile dogs, on the other hand, love meeting new pets and people. So, try introducing younger dogs instead of adult ones.
  • Some dog breeds you should avoid at all costs are pitbull, Dobermans, Rottweilers, etc.

How To Make Tortoises And Dogs Get Along?

I know housing tortoises with dogs can be a total disaster. But still, approaching the whole thing strategically may help you succeed. Some tips are as follows,

1. Push A Plushie

Forcing a tortoise to be friends with a dog all of a sudden is nothing but a joke. No wonder the tortoise will be scared out of its mind. Even a dog may get chills seeing the tortoise for the first time.

To eliminate this drama, adopt the slow introduction method. For example, buy a tortoise plushie and place it in front of the dog.

The dog will observe it first and then make a move. Scold your dog if it tries to bite or chew the tortoise plushie. Dogs are intelligent creatures, and they can be easily trained.

Do the same thing with tortoises too. Place a big puppy plushie in the tortoise’s enclosure. Treat the pet each time it interacts with the toy. Tortoises are smart, and training with treats helps them learn quickly.

2. A Formal Interaction

Are the pets gentle with the dummies? If yes, then now it is time to make a formal introduction.

Bring your dog closer to the tortoise’s enclosure. Of course, make sure the habitat is secured with chickenwire fences. Otherwise, the dog may jump on the tortoise out of curiosity.

Let the pets make eye contact. Yes, the dog will show overexcitement and try to get to the tortoise. Notice whether there are any aggressive traits in the dog’s behavior.

Also, observe how the tortoise is responding to the entire thing. If stressed, the reptile will hide in the shell. But the tortoise will walk around in the pen in a relaxed mood when it has no problem with the dog. This is a green flag.

3. A Training Period

Continue arranging these small meets between the dog and tortoise. Soon you will understand whether the pets can get along or not.

In the meantime, train your dog to be gentle with the tortoise. Use the dummy for the training session.

4. Prepare For The Meet Up

If everything goes right, you can allow the tortoise and dog to be in the same room. But first, prepare the pets for the meetup.

Professionals advise feeding both the tortoise and the dog beforehand. It is because these pets stay calm when they have a full tummy.

Also, do not irritate the dog or the tortoise. The pets should be relaxed when they first meet.

5. Real Face Off

Finally, place the dog and the tortoise in the same room. You must be extra cautious during the entire time.

Observe both pets closely and notice how they react to each other’s presence. Do not expect them to be friends from day one. They will bond over time.

Be prepared to separate the pets if anything goes south.

6. Red Flags

Tortoises who bond with dogs walk comfortably around them instead of hiding in their shells. Likewise, the dogs will not pull off any aggressive stunts on their new friends. But sometimes, the whole meetup backfires as the dogs behave out of order.

Barking, stalking, growling, chewing, crouching, etc., are signs that the dog will attack the tortoise. These also indicate that these two pets will not co-exist in the same house.

Safety Tips To Keep Both Dogs And Tortoises

Well, tortoises are very particular about their care guide. Hence, you have to build them a habitat indoors or outdoors, maintaining all the rules. As for dogs, they can adjust to the same environment as humans.

So, it is clear that tortoises need a separate living space. Keeping a dog in the house will not be a problem as long as the pen is protected.

Yes, dog barking can cause tortoise anxiety. Therefore, make sure the personal spaces of these two pets do not overlap.

These were tips if the dogs and tortoises do not get along. But what if they become friends?

Well, even in that case, you can not remove the wire protection from the tortoise’s enclosure.

Also, never allow these two pets to play without your supervision. It is always recommended to keep dogs and tortoises in separate rooms.

Finally, you already know that tortoises carry salmonella. So, the dogs may also get this bacteria through food, water, and contaminated surfaces.

Hence, maintain personal hygiene after you touch your dog or tortoise and prepare their food. Also, keep the floor and the pet toys cleaned.

Before You Go…

Tortoises can adjust to a community habitat with different species, reptiles, and animals. But what about turtles? Can turtles live with fish? Read the below article for insight.

Can You Put Turtles And Fish In The Same Tank?

About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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