Fishkeeping and Dog Training: How to Teach Your Dog to Respect Your Aquarium

Fishkeeping and Dog Training: How to Teach Your Dog to Respect Your Aquarium

Kim Irwin


Image by spiritseed and Brandon Day





Did you know that owning a pet fish can bring numerous health benefits to your life, from reducing stress and anxiety to lowering blood pressure? But if there are also dogs in your household, it's important to know that there are potential risks involved. Not only can dogs that come into contact with fish tank water diseases and parasites, but their behavior around the aquarium can also stress out and potentially harm your fish.





According to PetMD, some common diseases that dogs can catch from fish tanks include bacterial infections, parasites, and fungal infections. In addition, dogs may contaminate the water with bacteria, oils, or other substances from their paws, fur, or saliva, which can harm your fish and disrupt the delicate balance of the aquarium environment.





In addition, the curiosity of dogs around aquariums can induce stress and anxiety in your fish, regardless of whether they are two-foot long arowanas or a tiny fish of the red line tetra species. This heightened state of agitation can potentially result in various health issues, and in severe cases, can even lead to the death of your fish. Agitated fish may exhibit behaviors such as reduced appetite or attempting to hide when dogs approach or stare into the tank, disrupting their regular behavior patterns and daily routines





In this blog post, we'll show you how to teach your dog to respect your aquarium and avoid these potential health hazards. With the right training, you can ensure that your furry friend remains happy and healthy, while also keeping your fish safe and secure. Let's get started!





Step 1: Get Your Dog Used to the Aquarium





Before you can start training your dog to respect your aquarium, it's important to get them used to the presence of the tank. Here are some steps you can take to help your dog feel comfortable around the aquarium:





● Start Slow: Introduce your dog to the aquarium in a controlled manner. Start by letting your dog sniff around the tank while it's empty. Once your dog seems comfortable, slowly add water to the tank and let them get used to the sound and movement of the water.





● Positive Reinforcement: Use treats and praise to reward calm behavior around the tank. If your dog shows curiosity towards the aquarium but doesn't jump or paw at the tank, give them a treat and praise them for being calm.





● Gradually Increase Time: As your dog becomes more comfortable around the aquarium, gradually increase the amount of time they spend near the tank. Start with short periods of time and slowly increase the duration as your dog becomes more accustomed to the aquarium.





● Create a Positive Association: Consider giving your dog a special treat or toy only when they're near the aquarium. This will help create a positive association with the tank and encourage them to view it as a safe and pleasant environment.





This is a great start to get your dog comfortable with your aquarium and set the stage for the next steps in training your dog to respect your aquarium and avoid potential health hazards.





Step 2: Train Your Dog to Stay Away from the Aquarium





Once your dog is comfortable around the aquarium, it's time to teach them to stay away from it. This is an important step in keeping your fish safe and secure. Here's how to train your dog to stay away from the aquarium:





● Use a "Leave It" Command: Start by teaching your dog a "leave it" command. This command will be used to discourage your dog from approaching or bothering the aquarium. Use positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, to reward your dog when they respond to the command.





● Set Boundaries: Create physical boundaries around the aquarium to help your dog understand where they're allowed to be. For example, you can use baby gates or furniture to block off the area around the tank.





● Be Consistent: It's important to be consistent in your training. Whenever your dog approaches the aquarium, use the "leave it" command and reward them when they respond appropriately. Over time, your dog will learn to associate the command with staying away from the tank.





● Gradually Increase Distance: Once your dog responds well to the "leave it" command, you can gradually increase the distance between your dog and the aquarium. Start by moving a few feet away from the tank, then gradually increase the distance as your dog becomes more comfortable.





Step 3: Teach Your Dog to Ignore the Fish





Now that your dog is staying away from the aquarium, it's time to teach them to ignore the fish inside. Here's how to train your dog to ignore the fish:





● Use the "Leave It" Command: Use the "leave it" command to discourage your dog from chasing or bothering the fish. Reward your dog with treats and praise when they respond appropriately. They should master this before introducing fish to the equation. This way, your dog has a chance to become familiar with the aquarium and its surroundings before the fish are introduced. 





● Use Visual Aids: Consider using visual aids, such as a toy fish, to help your dog understand what behavior is expected. Use the "leave it" command whenever your dog shows interest in the toy fish, and reward them when they respond appropriately.





● Supervise Your Dog: It's important to supervise your dog around the aquarium at all times. If your dog shows signs of wanting to jump or paw at the tank, use the "leave it" command to redirect their attention.





● Be Patient: It may take some time for your dog to learn to ignore the fish. Be patient and continue to reinforce positive behavior with treats and praise.





This may take a while, but with patience and consistency, you can train your dog to be a respectful member of your household, both to your aquarium and your other pets.





Step 4: Supervise Your Dog Around the Aquarium





Even after your dog has learned to respect and ignore the aquarium and its inhabitants, it's important to continue supervising your dog around the tank. Here are some tips for supervising your dog around the aquarium:





● Keep a Close Eye: Always keep a close eye on your dog when they're near the aquarium. Watch for signs that they may be getting too close or showing interest in the fish.





● Be Prepared to Intervene: If your dog shows signs of wanting to jump or paw at the tank, use the "leave it" command to redirect their attention. You may also need to physically move your dog away from the tank to prevent them from harming the fish.





● Consider Barriers: If you're not able to supervise your dog around the aquarium at all times, consider using physical barriers to keep your dog away from the tank. Baby gates or furniture can be used to block off the area around the tank.





● Continue Positive Reinforcement: Even when your dog is behaving appropriately around the aquarium, continue to reinforce positive behavior with treats and praise. This will help your dog remember what is expected of them and encourage them to continue to behave well around the aquarium.





Conclusion





Teaching your dog to respect your aquarium may require some patience and consistency, but the end result will be worth it. Not only will you be able to relax knowing that your fish are safe from harm, but your dog will also learn valuable lessons in obedience and respect.





It's important to remember that every dog is different and may require additional training or time to learn the desired behaviors. Be patient and keep working with your dog, and remember to always supervise them around the aquarium to prevent accidents or harm.





By teaching your dog to respect your aquarium, you are not only creating a safe and harmonious environment for your pets, but you are also setting an example for responsible pet ownership. With your dedication and hard work, you can create a loving and respectful home for all of your pets to enjoy.