Petting a Kakapo When You Already Have a Dog - Things You Need to Know

Posted by Shawn Richard on Jan 19th 2023

Dogs and parrots like kakapos can easily share the same household with time and adequate training. If you are up for the challenging task, the resulting successful friendship will more than makeup for the hard work you put into.

Here is what you need to do for your feathered friend to settle in its new house with its furry neighbor.

The Cage

Despite their appearance, kakapos are far from being the dumbest animals. Kakapos, like many parrots, can easily open cages with simple lock systems. You will need a sturdy, escape-proof cage that cannot be opened by either of your pets. The cage must also be big enough for the bird to move away if the dog tries to paw at it.

Invest in a heavy, preferably stainless steel cage that your pets cannot topple. Place the cage in a corner or an area that allows the bird to escape any threats. Give some privacy and a sense of security by placing toys and nesting boxes within the cage.

Introduce Your Pets Slowly

Dogs are predatory animals by nature so they will view birds like the kakapos as prey instinctually. Despite being relatively docile, it is a dog’s instinct to hunt birds. Therefore, it is important to exercise patience regarding getting your pet neighbors accustomed to each other.

Start slow and only allow brief periods of contact during the initial few days. Keep your dog leashed and your kakapo in the cage to avoid accidents. As they become more comfortable in their presence over the next few weeks, you can amp up their socializing time.

Choose A Neutral Area

The first introduction should be done in a place that isn’t territory to either animal. For example, a room where your dog is forbidden from entering, your bird’s cage isn’t located, or your bird doesn’t spend much time in. Unfamiliar territory for both pets reduces the chances of aggressive behavior and fosters an amicable relationship.

A helpful tip is to keep your kakapo confined for at least a month, during which the dog will occasionally see the bird. This way, they will realize that neither poses a threat to the other.

Reward The Animals

Kakapos, like other parrots, are amenable to treats and bribes. This also applies to your furry best friend. Treats and rewards also help reinforce good behavior, making them more likely to adopt certain habits.

It is necessary to train your dog with a ‘no’ command to deter it from the bird. Encourage them to stay calm and collected in the presence of your bird. When your dog listens to your commands, be sure to treat them with their favorite snack. Remember that dogs sniff new family members but don’t let them lick birds, as this can cause skin infections.

Always Supervise

Dogs are mostly descended from wolves, so hunting is a natural instinct. Although dogs and birds can live together in harmony, there is always the risk of your dogs hunting on their prey drive, especially in the case of hunting breeds.

Supervise every interaction until both pets are comfortable in each other’s presence. Once you can trust your dog, you can release your kakapo in the room and keep your dog unleashed.

However, no matter how trained or trustworthy your canine friend is, never leave your kakapo and pet dog unsupervised in a room. The ideal solution is to keep your kakapo in a cage when your dog is around to avoid the risk of any unfortunate accident.

Problems And Proofing Behavior

The difficulty of dog-proofing depends significantly on the breed and age of the dog. If you have a puppy or a hunting dog breed, expect the process to take longer. Although the process may be long, most dogs eventually become acclimatized to the presence of birds, so don’t be disheartened.

Tips For Introducing Your Dog To Your Bird

Leashing your dog and caging your kakapo for the initial meetups has already been discussed. In addition, observe your dog’s behavior. Is it barking, growling, trying to attack the bird repeatedly? If so, then cut short the interaction and separate the two.

It is also essential to spend time with both your pets instead of relying on leashes and cages all the time. Play and interact with both your pets to avoid jealousy and keep them happy.

Signs Your Dog Is (Or Isn't) Getting Along With Your Kakapo

After both of your pets have lived under the same roof for a while, you will learn to observe the signs indicating whether they are getting along with each other. Check whether your pup is disinterested or curious. Be on the lookout for tell-tale signs of predatory behavior such as growling, stalking, acting hyper near the bird, chasing the kakapo, or has a stiff tail.

An easily distracted dog with no interest in the bird is an essential sign that your dog can be trained to live with kakapos. Therefore paying attention and active participation is an important component of the decision-making process.


Training your furry friend to live with your feathered one is easier than you think. Careful observation, patience, and reassurance through rewards are great techniques for creating a strong friendship between your dog and kakapo.

Be sure to make time for both pets and slowly allow them to get accustomed to each other so that all the household members can live in harmony.


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