Dogs might not be the first option that comes to mind when you need to get rid of mice. However, they are great for this task as they are incredibly territorial and loyal to their masters.
Yes, dogs can hunt mice; they have been doing it for centuries! With proper training, you can efficiently train your dog to become an excellent mouse hunter. Their strong sense of smell and behavior helps them detect mice, and they also tend to scare them away from your property.
If you are looking to know how to teach a dog to catch mice, you are in the right place. In this article, you will find out:
- What are the signs you should notice in your dogs indicating a mice infestation?
- Why should you not use mouse traps and poison for catching mice in your house?
- Which are the best mousing dog breeds?
- How can you train your dogs to catch mice?
- What would happen if your dog eats a mouse?
- What are the effects of eating a poisonous mouse?
Signs to Look Out For In Dogs That Suggest Mice Infestation
As dogs have exceptional senses of hearing and smell, you only need to pay close attention to their unusual behaviors to understand that something odd is going on. If you start seeing the following gestures in your dog, you might have a mice problem in your house:
- Head tilting
- Ears up
- Alert pose
- Intent listening
- Fast moves to locate something that is not visibly there
- Sudden high prey-drive
Why Not Use Mouse Traps and Poison to Get Rid of Mice?
While using poison and traps may be the best go-to option for people who don’t own pets, this is not the recommended method for cats, dogs, or other pet animals’ owners.
The probability is high that if you set up traps or poisonous baits, your pets can become the involuntary target of these actions. You may train them not to digest items off the floor randomly, but you can’t keep a constant check to know if they are not disobeying that order.
Furthermore, it is unwise to apply these methods when you have infants or kids at home. There have been some cases where the children ate the poisoned food off the floor because they didn’t know any better. Sometimes they also come in the trap’s way, which always ends badly.
What Are the Best Mousing Dog Breeds?
Mouse hunting dogs are the best solution to catch mice in your house. Although you can train almost all dogs to catch mice, some breeds are especially adept for this purpose. Most of them are terriers of different types, as they are experts in hunting small animals with surprising amounts of strength.
Here are the top dog breeds ideal for catching all kinds of rodents:
- Rat Terrier
- Lakeland Terrier
- Jack Russell Terrier
- German Pinscher
- Norfolk Terrier
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Cairn Terrier
- Yorkshire Terrier
- West Highland White Terrier
These breeds are the most fearless when it comes to chasing mice. However, you don’t necessarily need them if you already have a different dog breed. As stated before, you can get any dog to chase mice as long as you know how to train them.
How to Teach a Dog to Catch Mice
Before you begin the dog training, make sure to get a pet mouse, a toy mouse, a commercially available mouse scent, and if you can, a wild mouse in a trap, from a pet store.
There is more than one technique you can use to train your dog for hunting mice. Let’s go over them one by one.
1- ‘Play Time With the Toy Mouse’ Method
- Spray a toy mouse with the store-bought mouse scent and then play a throw-and-catch game with your dog. Allow him to sniff the toy whenever he wants.
- Now, drag the toy on the floor and hide it somewhere your dog can easily locate. Dragging the toy will create a scented trail for your dog to follow.
- Let your dog follow the scent and discover the toy. Move the furniture out of the way to assist him.
- When he finds the toy, shower him with praise, give him a treat, and play with the mouse toy for another ten to fifteen minutes.
- Repeat this method every day while moving the toy to a more difficult place to make it challenging.
- If you find the mice’s dropping anywhere in your house, make sure to introduce your dog to that scent as well.
- Soon, your dog will be familiar with the scent while getting the confidence to catch mice.
2- ‘Chase the Mice’ Method
- Place a caged mouse where your dog can see, hear, and smell it. Allow your dog to paw, trying to get to the mouse inside the cage.
- When he gets close to the mouse, talk excitedly to him, and appreciate his efforts by giving him a treat.
- You need to make sure your dog is confident around the mouse. While he tries to get to it, reinforce that the display of aggression towards the mouse is good. You can do that by giving him treats on each accomplishment.
- Repeat this for a week or two, then take the confined rat outside and release him. Use pet barriers so the rat can’t get away.
- Let your dog chase the mouse. Make sure he is entertained, and you are talking him through for encouragement. Motivate him to catch the mouse by giving him treats every time he comes close to the mouse.
- Once he captures the mouse, talk animatedly to him. This will show him that his master is happy with his job, which will push him to try and catch mice every chance he gets.
3- ‘Mouse-to-Rat’ Method
- Keep a caged mouse somewhere your dog can sniff around and paw.
- Let your dog get familiar with the scent and encourage him to grab the mouse. Do this every day for at least fifteen minutes.
- When your dog reaches for the mouse, trying to grab or eat him, award him with a treat and talk excitedly. It will boost up your dog’s confidence.
- Whenever you see signs of mice or mice droppings, make sure to introduce your dog to that scent. It will help him scope out all the mice-related smells.
- Once you start seeing the signs that your dog wants to get to the mouse without your engagement, you will know he is ready.
- Now, release the mouse in a room or your yard where it can’t escape, and let your canine hunter get close to it.
- When your dog comes close to the mouse and tries to catch him, start praising him and talk excitedly. It will encourage him to continue with the task. Eventually, he will start catching mice.
- Now that your dog is familiar with the mouse and is confident with his strike, you can repeat the process with the rats, which are bigger than a mouse. If you want your dog to be well-trained, he should have a killer instinct for the rats as well.
Now that you know how to teach a dog to catch mice, you should learn about the extra details and knowledge that come with mouse hunting activity.
Here are a few things to know about:
Should You Be Worried If Your Dog Eats a Mouse?
Even though mice carry disease, killing them wouldn’t affect your dog. However, there might be a problem when your pooch decides to eat a mouse.
Mice eat about fifteen to twenty times a day, so you can’t be sure what your dog just digested. It may contain things that upset your dog’s digestive system. There is also a high chance that the dogs end up with the following infections or diseases after eating a mouse:
Your dogs can catch this infection if the rat had Toxoplasmosis cysts developing in its muscles. Its various symptoms include diarrhea, liver disease, and pneumonia.
Your dog can get infected with roundworms and tapeworms, which will lead him to experience vomiting, diarrhea, and irritation around the genital areas.
What To Do If Your Dog Eats a Poisoned Mouse?
Mouse poison is as dangerous to dogs as it is to mice. If your dog eats a poisoned mouse, even if it was poisoned with something other than rat poison, you can’t do much about it yourself. You must visit the vet immediately and explain everything in detail to understand the situation better.
If the rat has consumed a rat poison that you put into some bait, remember to bring the poison bottle with you to the doctor’s clinic so they can judge the severity of damage accordingly.
How To Tell If Your Dog Ingested Poisoned Rat?
Some common symptoms can tell if your dog ate a poisoned rat, such as:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Bleeding gums
If you find these symptoms in your dog, never waste time, and take your pet to the vet.