Will Having A Dog Scare Away Mice?

Many homeowners want to know if having a dog will help scare away and deter mice in their homes. Mice can be frustrating and destructive pests, chewing through items, contaminating food, and causing damage. Dogs are often thought of as helpful for keeping yards and homes free of pests.

But can man’s best friend be an effective way to scare off mice? Determining if dogs actually deter mice requires looking at evidence on both sides. Some dogs may instinctively chase and hunt mice. But mice also have behaviors and survival strategies that allow them to coexist near dogs.

This article will examine the question of whether dogs effectively scare away mice from homes. It will look at dogs’ hunting behaviors, mouse psychology, differences between dog breeds, and other factors to consider.

Reasons Why Dogs May Scare Away Mice

One of the main reasons why dogs may scare away mice is due to dogs’ strong predatory instincts toward small prey animals like mice. Dogs are descended from wolves and often retain a desire to hunt small, fast moving creatures. The mere smell or sound of a dog can trigger mice’s instincts to flee and avoid becoming prey.

Additionally, dogs have an incredibly keen sense of smell, far superior to humans. They are able to sniff out even the faintest traces of mice urine and pheromones. Their sensitive noses allow them to detect where mice are active in a home, even if the mice are hiding behind walls or under furniture. This can prompt dogs to alarm bark and frighten away mice.

Dogs also have loud, booming barks that can startle timid mice. Mice are very sensitive to sounds and vibrations, so a dog’s sharp, sudden barking can scare mice and make them less likely to enter areas within earshot of the dog. Though not guaranteed, a dog’s loud vocalizations may help deter mice.


[Source 1] (https://www.jjext.com/do-dogs-keep-mice-out-of-the-home)

[Source 2] (https://www.terminix.com/blog/education/are-mice-afraid-of-dogs/)

Reasons Why Dogs May Not Scare Away Mice

Mice can become accustomed to a dog’s presence over time, reducing the dog’s ability to deter them. According to this source, mice may exhibit caution around dogs initially, but can become desensitized if the dog poses no real threat. The mice may learn that the dog will not chase or harm them.

Additionally, dogs are limited in their access to potential mouse nesting spots. As discussed here, mice can find hiding places in walls, attics, crawl spaces, and small crevices that are inaccessible to dogs. They can build nests and reproduce even in the presence of a dog if provided with enough shelter.

Some dogs, especially smaller breeds and those bred for purposes other than hunting, may also lack a strong prey drive toward mice. They may ignore or be indifferent to mice rather than perceiving them as a threat. Their presence alone is not enough to effectively scare mice away long-term.

Mouse Behavior and Psychology

Mice are adaptable and resilient animals that can thrive in a wide range of environments. They have strong survival instincts that drive them to seek food, shelter, and safety. Studies on mouse behavior and psychology show that mice are intelligent creatures capable of learning, problem-solving, and even empathy.

Researchers have found that mice display anxiety-related behaviors when exposed to unfamiliar or threatening stimuli. However, they can also become desensitized over time. One study published in Science showed that mice with a certain genetic alteration continued to explore exposed areas despite potential threats – evidence of reduced anxiety 1.

Additional studies on helping behaviors in mice demonstrate they may feel empathy and act altruistically to help other mice in distress. This suggests mice have some capacity for complex social behaviors and emotional processing 2.

Overall, research indicates mice have resilient and moldable behaviors shaped by experience and environment. Their strong survival drive means they are difficult to deter long-term without addressing the root causes drawing them to a location.

Dog Breed Differences

Certain dog breeds are more likely to scare away mice due to strong prey drives and instincts to hunt rodents. Terriers and other hunting breeds are often the best choices for deterring mice. For example, according to https://www.marthastewart.com/8119678/dogs-that-hunt-mice-and-pests, the Russell Terrier, Dachshund, Cairn Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Lakeland Terrier, Norwich Terrier, and Bedlington Terrier all have strong instincts to hunt small rodents like mice.

Scent hounds can also be effective for scaring mice because they are able to track the rodents’ trail. Examples of scent hounds that may deter mice include Beagles, Bloodhounds, and Basset Hounds. Their keen sense of smell allows them to locate even well-hidden mice.

On the other hand, herding breeds often lack a strong prey drive directed towards mice and other rodents. While individual dogs may vary, breeds such as Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, and Collies are less likely to show interest in hunting mice. Their instincts are more focused on herding behaviors.

Training Dogs to Deter Mice

You can train some breeds of dogs to deter mice using positive reinforcement. Start by encouraging stalking and chasing behaviors using treats and praise as rewards. Practice having your dog “mouse hunt” on command in areas you suspect mice may be present. Use an excited tone and body language, and reward with play when your dog shows interest in pursuing mice. You can also use fake mice or build mock mouse tunnels for practice sessions.

In addition to play, use food rewards like small pieces of cheese or meat when your dog displays the correct behaviors. Over time, your dog will learn that investigating and alarming mice leads to rewards. Teach your dog a specific action, like barking or pawing at the floor, to alert you to signs of mice around your home.

Some breeds like Terriers and Dachshunds may naturally pursue rodents without much training. But supervision is still required, as mice can carry diseases. Avoid punishing dogs for killing mice, as this can cause confusion. Instead, redirect and reward ignoring mice after the alert behavior. With patience and consistency, you can harness your dog’s instincts to help deter mice without harming them.

For more tips, see this guide on training dogs to pursue mice: How to Train Your Dog to Catch Mice

Other Rodent Deterrents

Traps and poisons are commonly used to get rid of mice, but they can be dangerous for pets and children. A safer alternative is to use natural repellents that deter mice humanely without harming pets.

Peppermint oil is highly effective at repelling mice. According to research from Taste of Home, mice hate the smell of peppermint oil. Place a few drops on cotton balls and wipe along baseboards and other areas where mice may enter. The strong scent drives mice away. Refresh the oil every few days. Moth balls made from naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene also make mice uncomfortable with their strong odor. Use them in confined spaces like attics or crawlspaces.

Sealing any cracks, holes or openings in your home’s foundation, walls, floors, and ceilings is important to prevent mice from getting inside in the first place. Use weather stripping, steel wool, copper mesh, caulk and other sealants to close off potential entry points so mice can’t squeeze through.

Preventing Mice Infestations

There are several effective ways to help prevent mice from entering and infesting your home in the first place. Keeping your home clean and decluttered is key.

Make sure to store any food, including pet food, in sealed metal or glass containers rather than plastic bags or boxes. Clean up any crumbs or spills right away, and regularly clean appliances like your refrigerator and stove where crumbs can accumulate. Wipe down kitchen surfaces frequently using a disinfectant cleaner.

Decluttering your home can eliminate nesting sites for mice. Get rid of any unnecessary boxes, papers, or other clutter around the home, especially in the kitchen, basement, attic, and garage. Tidy items into bins with tight sealing lids to discourage nesting [1].

Using natural deterrents can also help repel mice. Planting mint around your home’s foundations or entry points creates a strong scent that mice dislike. Peppermint oil, cayenne pepper, and garlic are other natural repellents you can use [2].

When to Call an Exterminator

There comes a point when dealing with a mouse problem that calling a professional exterminator is the best option. Here are some key signs that indicate it’s time to bring in an exterminator:

The infestation is severe or persistent – If you continue to see multiple mice over an extended period, despite your own pest control efforts, it’s a sign the infestation is entrenched and difficult to control on your own. Persistent sightings of live mice, droppings, gnawing damage etc. indicate an infestation. (Source)

People are getting sick – Mice can transmit diseases through their urine and droppings which can cause illness in people. If you suspect mice may be making you or your family sick, don’t delay in calling an exterminator.

Signs of major structural damage – If the mice have done significant damage by gnawing electrical wires, wood structures, insulation etc., a professional assessment and treatment is needed not only to remove the mice but repair the damage.

In these cases, a qualified exterminator has the expertise, equipment and chemicals to fully eliminate the infestation and prevent the mice from returning. Delaying can allow the problem to get worse.


In summary, having a dog can deter mice in some circumstances, but is not guaranteed to scare them away completely. Large, active dogs that are trained to hunt rodents are more likely to be effective deterrents. Small dogs may actually attract mice looking for food. Ultimately, the breed, size, temperament and training of the dog will determine its mousing abilities.

To answer the original question posed, “Will having a dog scare away mice?” – the answer is maybe. It depends on the individual dog and the mice infestation situation. Dogs can certainly help, but should be just one part of an integrated pest management plan.

In conclusion, look at getting an active, rodent-hunting breed if you want a dog that will deter mice. But also rely on other tactics like sealing up entry points, removing food sources, and traps. And if the infestation is advanced, do not hesitate to call in a professional exterminator to fully remove the mice and prevent their return.

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