The Keys to Creating a Multi-Pet Home
The impulse to adopt every pet is universally understood by other animal lovers. However, while a perfect match is possible, a harmonious household is sometimes only achieved after weeks of doubt, fear, anxiety, and stress. This is often the case in a multi-pet home.
The ways to navigate sticky situations between pets are not always clear, but when you know where to start, you and all your pets can begin the journey toward household bliss.
One Happy Family?
It’s natural to want a peaceful, multi-pet household, but the reality can often be far from that daydream. First of all, not all animals want to be with other animals, regardless of species. Sure, it’s well known that cats and dogs don’t always get along, but many pets don’t even want to be near their own species. What is a poor pet owner to do?
The Back Story
Knowing as much as possible about your pet’s background and history is integral to your success. Many breeds revel in the company of other furry friends; others like to be around just one other pet (or in some cases, none).
Your current pet’s likes and dislikes should play a major role in what kind of pet you bring home next, and how you choose to introduce your pet to his or her new sibling.
Before you move ahead with a new addition to your existing dynamic, we recommend ruling out any underlying medical conditions that could create certain reactions or behaviors. A pet that is in pain, unwell, or dealing with problems that aren’t immediately visible can affect how they cope in a multi-pet household. Schedule a wellness exam first.
It doesn’t matter which species you are introducing to your resident cat or dog; the guidelines are generally the same:
- Choose a neutral location or your own pet-proofed home
- Keep the animals safely confined and apart from each other for the first few days (this is especially important while you’re away from home for any reason. Ensure that each pet is safe from the other)
- Rotate which animal has freedom to roam the larger areas of the house, encouraging each pet to learn about the other new animal via smell
- You will know when it’s time to allow full integration by normal eating and bathroom habits
- Do this by leash-only interactions at first
- Do not break from this until your pets are completely at ease with each other
- Once the leashes are off, you can experiment with unsupervised time together, but only once you are confident neither pet will act defensively or territorially
- This process can take a month or more.
If there is aggression in your multi-pet home, or you have a dog that won’t stop wearing down the separation barriers, you will likely have to seek out professional training services.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to lift some of the tension:
- Do not favor one pet over the other(s)
- Remain consistent with all routines
- Redirect your pet’s energy when trouble starts to brew
- Always have safe spaces that allow quick and safe retreats
- Spay or neuter your pet
If our team can assist you with any questions or concerns regarding your multi-pet household, we encourage you to contact us. It may take time and patience, but your dreams of a happy, furry household are well within reach!