Will A Dog Catch A Mouse In The House?

Why Mice Enter Homes

Mice often enter homes seeking food and shelter. They can squeeze through gaps as small as a quarter-inch, allowing them access even in well-sealed homes. Mice are opportunistic feeders and will eat any crumbs or garbage left out (see this article). They need very little open space to infiltrate a home. Even small crumbs from human or pet food can attract mice.

Mice enter homes at higher rates in fall and winter when outdoor food sources dwindle and they seek warm shelter. But mice may enter homes year-round if they detect an opportunity for food and shelter. The best way to prevent mice is to seal all possible entry points and store food securely in rodent-proof containers.

Dangers of a Mouse Infestation

Mice can pose serious health risks when they invade homes. According to the CDC, rats and mice are known to carry many harmful diseases that can spread to humans[1]. Here are some of the main dangers of having mice in the house:

Contaminate food with urine and droppings – Mice contaminate food sources and preparation areas with their urine and droppings. Their urine and droppings can contain bacteria like salmonella and viruses, which can cause food poisoning in humans[2].

Spread diseases – Mice can directly transmit diseases to humans through their urine, droppings, or bites. Some concerning mouse-borne diseases include hantavirus, leptospirosis, lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, and plague[3].

Cause damage by gnawing and nesting – Mice will gnaw on electrical wires, wood structures, and insulation. Their gnawing and nest building behaviors can cause fires or other property damage. Nests can also allow more mice access into the home.

Do Dogs Catch Mice?

Some dogs do have a strong natural instinct to catch mice and other rodents. Certain breeds were originally developed to hunt small prey like mice and rats, giving them an especially strong prey drive. Terriers in particular, including breeds like the Jack Russell Terrier, Rat Terrier, and Cairn Terrier, are known for their skill and determination in pursuing rodents.

Smaller dog breeds tend to be better mousers than larger dogs. Their size allows them to easily enter small spaces where mice may hide. Terriers and other compact hunting dogs like Dachshunds can swiftly chase down and kill mice.

With proper training and exposure, many dogs can become quite proficient at catching mice, even if they lack an innate hunting drive. Using encouragement and rewards, dogs can be taught to identify and pursue rodents. Giving a dog safe opportunities to interact with and catch mice helps develop their hunting skills.

According to Martha Stewart, some excellent mouse-hunting breeds include Rat Terriers, Yorkshire Terriers, and Schnauzers. So while not all dogs are natural mousers, certain breeds have the ideal traits to effectively catch mice.

Best Dog Breeds for Catching Mice

Certain dog breeds have natural rodent-hunting instincts and are well-suited for catching mice. Some of the top breeds for mousing include:

Jack Russell Terriers – This feisty, energetic breed has strong prey drive and excels at sniffing out and killing small rodents. According to experts, Jack Russell Terriers can “catch a mouse in the house with no problem.” [1]

Yorkshire Terriers – Originally bred to hunt rats and other vermin in mines, Yorkshire Terriers will eagerly chase mice indoors. Their small size allows them to squeeze into tight spaces to flush out rodents.

Dachshunds – With their long bodies, short legs, and tenacious temperament, Dachshunds are highly skilled hunters adept at capturing mice. Their low-to-the-ground build gives them an advantage pursuing rodents.

Poodles – Despite their refined appearance, Poodles have an energetic, playful side and will vigorously chase mice if given the opportunity. Their intelligence aids their mousing abilities.

Shiba Inus – As a primitive hunting breed, Shiba Inus have a strong prey drive and thoroughly enjoy pursuing small furry creatures like mice. They are alert, agile hunters.

With training and supervision, these breeds can be excellent natural pest control for minimizing mice in the home.

Training a Dog to Catch Mice

One way to deal with a mouse problem is to train your dog to catch mice around the house. With proper training and supervision, many dogs can be taught to detect and capture mice. It’s important to use positive reinforcement techniques so the training is an enjoyable activity for your dog.

Begin by gathering some interactive toys that resemble mice in size and shape. Squeaky toys work particularly well. Allow your dog to play with the toys, offering praise and small treats as rewards for attention to the “mice.” Gradual introduce some simulations of real mice, made from fur or materials that smell intriguing to your dog. Continue to positively reinforce attention and interaction with the fake mice.

According to wagwalking.com, you can also hide some toys around the room and encourage your dog to hunt them down. Use an excited tone of voice and clear direction to direct your dog toward the hidden “mice.” Reward successful discovery and capture with play time, praise, and treats. This helps build your dog’s drive to seek out mice.

Always directly supervise training sessions. Do not allow real mice to be used until your dog is reliably responding to commands and supervision. The key is to make hunting mice a fun game associated with rewards from you. With time and patience, many dogs can learn to eagerly search for and catch toy or even real mice in the home.

Allowing Safe Interactions

While dogs have natural predator instincts, allowing them to freely catch or consume mice can be risky. It’s best to monitor dogs closely and use leashes or crates as needed when mice may be present. According to Pet Place, eating mice can expose dogs to parasites, viruses and toxins.

If your dog does catch a mouse, it’s wise to check the rodent for signs of disease before disposal. According to the CDC, mice may carry hantavirus, lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus and salmonella. Avoid any direct contact and use gloves when handling.

Letting your dog eat mice is not recommended. Consuming mice can lead to vomiting, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues. According to Dr. Jeff Nichol, the bones, fur and parasites of mice can all cause problems if ingested by dogs. It’s best to immediately take any caught mice away from curious canines.

By supervising interactions and preventing consumption, you can allow dogs to satisfy natural hunting behaviors while minimizing risks. Leashes, crates and early training are key to safely channeling chasing instincts.

When to Call an Exterminator

If you have a large mouse infestation that is beyond your control, it may be time to call in a professional exterminator. Signs that you need professional help include seeing more than 10-20 droppings per day, hearing mice in walls or ceilings, or seeing multiple live mice in your home. Mice reproduce rapidly, so a large infestation can quickly spiral out of control.

You should also contact an exterminator if you’ve tried traps, natural deterrents, and sealing up entry points, but mice keep returning. Persistent mouse activity, despite your best efforts, indicates a severe infestation that requires professional treatment. The longer an infestation persists, the more engrained the mice become.

Additionally, commercial and food handling establishments like restaurants should immediately call an exterminator at the first sign of mice. The health risks of having mice around food, and the potential damage to your reputation, make prompt professional extermination a necessity.

According to EMCO Pest Control, exterminators have the proper tools and training to fully eliminate a mouse problem. They can find hard-to-reach nesting areas, provide thorough treatment, and offer preventative maintenance to keep mice away in the future.

Natural Mouse Deterrents

Mice are repelled by certain natural scents and substances. Using natural deterrents in and around the home is an easy, chemical-free way to discourage mice from entering or staying.

Peppermint oil is a commonly used natural mouse repellent. The strong scent overwhelms the sensitive noses of mice and acts as a deterrent [1]. You can soak cotton balls in pure peppermint oil and place them along baseboards, under sinks, and in other areas mice may enter. However, the effects are temporary and must be reapplied often.

Cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes also irritate the respiratory systems of mice. Sprinkling them in potential entry points or mixing cayenne pepper with flour and baking soda can drive mice away [2]. But like peppermint oil, frequent reapplication is required.

Used cat litter has a strong ammonia odor that mice dislike. Place containers of used litter in areas prone to mice, being sure to change it out every few days to keep the scent fresh and pungent [3]. Cat litter can be messy, so exercise caution when using it indoors.

Sealing Up Your Home

One of the most effective ways to prevent mice from entering your home is by sealing up any potential entry points, both inside and outside. According to the CDC, you should seal up any gaps and holes you find to stop mice from getting in.

Focus on fixing cracks and holes in your home’s foundation, walls, floors, ceilings, and around joints as well as openings for utilities like pipes and wires. You can fill small holes with steel wool or copper mesh, and seal larger gaps with caulk, cement, hardware cloth, metal sheeting, or expanding foam. Pay attention to areas around the porch, under doors, near the attic, garage, and basement.

You should also seal up any exterior openings using weather stripping around doors and windows and replacing any loose mortar around the foundation. Mice can squeeze through incredibly small spaces, so be thorough in sealing any possible entry points.

Clean Housekeeping

One of the most effective ways to deter mice is through diligent housekeeping. Mice are attracted to food sources and clutter that can provide nesting areas. By keeping a clean home, you eliminate these attractions.

Be sure to store any food, including pet food, in sealed containers that mice cannot chew through. Tightly sealed glass, metal, or plastic containers are ideal. Don’t leave any crumbs, garbage, or unattended food sitting out.

It’s also important to regularly vacuum and mop floors. This removes any traces of food or grease that can attract mice. Pay extra attention to corners and along walls where crumbs may accumulate. A thorough weekly cleaning regimen helps prevent mice from viewing your home as a potential food source.

With consistent diligent housekeeping habits, you can help deter mice without the use of poisons or traps. Removing their attractions is an effective first line of defense against mice in your home.


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