Can Dogs Live With Fish?

If you have a fish tank or pond and you’re thinking of getting a dog, you’ll want to know whether dogs can live with fish.

How can you keep your dog away from your fish if he shows a little too much interest in them? And would your dog try to eat your fish?

Keep reading to find out if Fido and your finned friends can live in harmony!

Red Flags

Most dog owners that have a fish tank don’t experience any problems whatsoever. However, there are a few red flags to watch out for that could indicate a possible conflict between the two species, including:

  • Your dog spends lots of time staring at the fish tank or appearing to be excited by the fishes’ movement
  • Your dog tries to get around behind the fish tank to find the fish
  • Your dog barks at the fish tank
  • Your dog jumps up at the tank, pawing at the fish through the glass

If you have a fish pond in your garden, you might find that your dog tries to get to the fish by putting a paw into the water or even jumping right into the pond!

What Attracts Dogs To Fish Tanks?

Some dogs that have a high prey drive enjoy chasing things, such as squirrels in the park, or perhaps a ball, or a frisbee, during playtime in your backyard. If you have a dog that loves to chase things, the fish swimming back and forth behind the glass of their aquarium might trigger that same prey response in your dog. 

However, since fish don’t make a noise and their movement is limited to the confines of the tank, it’s more likely that your dog will quickly lose interest. 

Fish in ponds are slightly different in that your dog can potentially smell and touch the fish. Some dogs might even be tempted to try to drag the poor fish right out of the water!

Fish Food And Toys

Most dogs are notorious scavengers that are always on the lookout for a tasty snack. Fish food contains lots of yummy ingredients that your dog might find just too tempting to resist. So, the smell of the fish food wafting through the air could be what’s attracting your dog to the aquarium cabinet rather than the fish themselves.

Also, if you have a betta fish, you’ll most likely have a collection of toys for him. Dogs are curious creatures that might be attracted to your betta buddy’s toy collection, especially if you have a jealous pup that resents the attention you give your fishy friend. 

So, keep all your fish food and fishy toys well out of reach of your dog, ideally somewhere away from your aquarium.

Dog Breeds And Compatibility With Fish

How your dog reacts to your fish tank or pond will be influenced by the age and breed of your dog.

For example, puppies are typically curious and want to get into everything, including your aquarium! Luckily, puppies also have a pretty short attention span, and you can usually distract your pup from your fish by offering him a toy or a treat. Older and senior dogs tend to ignore the fish altogether.

Dogs with a high prey drive and herding breeds, such as terriers and Border collies, are typically more inclined to chase fish than companion breeds such as Pugs and Maltipoos. If you have a fish pond, water-loving breeds, such as Portuguese Water Dogs that were bred to herd fish into nets, could do what comes naturally and try to catch your collection of Koi for you!

How To Keep Dogs And Fish In Harmony

Hopefully, your dog won’t show any interest in your fish. However, if necessary, you’ll need some ideas on how to keep the two species in harmony.

Keep Your Dog Out

The easiest way to stop your dog from harassing your fish is to put the aquarium in a room where your dog isn’t allowed.

Make sure that everyone in your household knows to keep the door to that room closed when your dog is loose in the house.

Location, Location, Location

If it’s not practical to keep your dog out of the room where you keep your fish tank, put the aquarium somewhere that’s not accessible to your dog.

Small tanks can sit on countertops or a high shelf that’s out of reach of your dog. A large tank can be put in a place where your dog can’t get around the back of the setup. Don’t put the aquarium in the center of the room where a cavorting canine could knock the tank over.

Introductions

Wherever you have your aquarium, it’s essential that you introduce your dog to the fish in the right way.

Keep the dog on a leash and let him look at the fish tank from a distance so that he can’t leap up at the fish. Most dogs won’t even notice the fish or might just give them a passing glance. In which case, simply unleash your dog and breathe a sigh of relief at the anticlimax.

However, if your dog gets excited and tries to get to the fish through the glass, you’ll need to keep him out of the room until he’s been trained not to bother the fish.

Distraction

Dogs generally have a very short attention span. So, distracting your dog from the fish with a toy or tasty treat is usually a very effective tactic.

Keep your dog’s favorite toy and a supply of tasty nibbles within easy reach so that you’re prepared to step in when necessary.

Tank Odor

Your dog has a much better sense of smell than you do, and they just love to roll in stuff that really reeks. So, if your fish tank is stinky, that will attract your dog.

Now, you should be keeping your aquarium clean and safe for your fish anyway, but that’s especially important if you have a curious dog.

Get Alarmed

You can warn your dog away from your fish tank or pond by investing in a motion sensor-controlled alarm system. These systems can have loud noises or flashing lights that are designed to startle the dog away from the fish and can be very effective.

Training

If you have a dog or puppy that’s obsessed with your fish, it is possible to train him out of the habit.

Problems with dogs and fish generally arise if the dog has a very high prey drive. So, you need to train him not to chase your fish when they take flight around their tank or pond. Training your dog not to chase can be challenging, and if you’re inexperienced, it’s usually best to hire a professional dog behaviorist to help you.

In Conclusion

So, you see, dogs can live in harmony with fish, provided that you take the steps outlined in this guide.

Do you have fish and a dog? How do the two get along? Share your experience with us in the comments box below!

Tim Hanson (77)

Contributing writer at Preferable Pups!