Living with Rats!
I live in a happy little condo in suburbia with my big black one-eyed gsd, Kane. Recently I adopted two baby rats from the science department at the school I work for- they're sweet little girls names Bret and Jermaine.
My condo has two full bedrooms, one of which I converted into a library, and this is where the rats live. They have a lovely critter-nation cage with lots of enrichment and I handle them every day, and have found that they're wonderfully low-maintainance pets.
However, Kane would very much like to eat them, seeing as he is a GSD with a prey drive like something with a huge prey drive. He will whimper at the door and I keep it locked when not at home. If allowed in the room, he does his best to eat the ratties, although for safety I use a prong collar on him.
Worst case- the rats live in the library and I split time between the animals when I can, the way things are now, which is fine.
Middling case- the door to the library can be open and Kane can watch them without freaking out in an effort to Nom Da Terrible Rats. I can hold them and walk around the condo.
Best case- I can cuddle up on the couch with a happy dog on one side and a rat on my shoulder while one burrows in my pockets.
Does anyone have tips for cohabitation, besides very slowly acclimating Kane to the sight and smell of them? So far I've been keeping him out of the room, reinforcing downs and commands.
Being around Other Animals He Wants to Eat makes him really drivy, but this means he ends up listening really well, if tensely. For instance, if he sees some deer he will go into a down or a sit the second I tell him, but will be ready to spring into action and become a Wild Predator at the first sign of a release command, haha.
I'd like to use this as an opportunity for enrichment and training, but only in a way that is safe for all the animals. Please let me know of any tips you have in these regards.