Setting our pets up for success is extremely important and creating physical boundaries is often necessary in order to achieve this. There are many tools to assist in this, including ex-pens, baby gates, tethers (leashes), and doors. Here are a few examples of how these tools can be implemented:
While enjoying a daily dental chew, dogs Freddie and Maxine are closed into their crates to avoid any tension caused by resource guarding.
When Charlie the new rescue cat is added to the family, he stays in a separate room for a few days to allow everyone to adjust to the new smells.
While the family enjoys dinner around the table, the dogs are kept behind a baby gate to avoid any scuffles over a dropped food item.
You can also employ boundary training so you don’t even need physical boundaries! We can help you teach your pup to stay behind a boundary line of your choosing.
2. EXERCISE AND MENTAL ENRICHMENT
As always, exercise and mental enrichment are paramount to an animal’s health, well-being, and behavior. Walks are wonderful, but hikes in new places are better so they can explore all the news sights, sounds, and smells of a new environment! Pack walks can also be a fantastic way for animals to bond, especially dogs.
3. MAINTAINING INDIVIDUAL RELATIONSHIPS
When living in a household with multiple pets, it can be easy for every activity to involve all the pets, especially when they are all dogs. For many reasons, it is necessary to give each pet individual quality time with you as their caretaker. First, it can prevent resource guarding issues by ensuring that each animal has enough attention. Secondly, it can prevent your animals from bonding so much so that they become codependent. On a personal, somewhat selfish level, it gives me time to really know my animal’s individual personalities and quirks.
Independence and autonomy and essential to an animal’s mental well-being. You can ensure this by giving each animal special training and playtime in which they can make their own choices. The way I do this for my own dogs is by utilizing nose work by playing “Find It” with each dog separately.
In order for our pets to be on their best behavior, they have to feel good! If you are struggling to get your pets to get along, I recommend bringing them to the vet to make sure they are in good physical health. For example, say Buddy has a sore leg, and Molly bumps into him. He may react aggressively because it hurts!
Great health begins with a healthy diet. Every species of animal (including humans) needs a complete and healthy diet to thrive. Of course, this means something different for each animal, so always consult with your vet to ensure you are feeding the best diet possible. .
There are three training techniques that I always use in a multiple dog household. Train each of these behaviors separately before using them together.
Teach each dog his or her place. You can use dog beds, mats, or even a corner of the couch!
Train your pups to always sit and stay before going through doorways to avoid congestion in tight spaces.
Train your dogs to walk nicely on leash together.
For each of these behaviors, contact a positive reinforcement based trainer in your area to assist!
6. SAFETY FIRST
The last thing we want to happen is for any injuries to happen to any of our animals. Within a multiple pet household, there are many opportunities for tension to arise. It is up to you are the caretaker or parent of your household to maintain a healthy, positive balance and keep stress to a minimum. First and foremost, this means ensuring a safe environment so that everyone can thrive. For example, if you have cats and dogs, provide many high perches that are accessible only to the cats so they can hide safely if they need it. As discussed above, implement baby gates, crates, and tethers for dogs when necessary.
Occasionally, a muzzle may be necessary to ensure the safety of everyone. Muzzles can be a wonderful tool if you have a dog that has bitten in the past. Karen Pryor has an informative article about the reasons muzzle training is a great idea!
Lastly, until you are absolutely sure your pets are well socialized to one another, never leave them unsupervised together.
Living with a Variety of Species
We’ve all seen those adorable viral videos of interspecific interactions—the one that immediately comes to mind is the dachshund and the lion.
While these videos are heartwarming and ridiculously cute, the fact is that our responses to these videos can be dangerously anthropomorphic. It can cause people to put their pets in stressful and sometimes dangerous situations in their attempt to create similar relationships. Never allow multiple species to interact unless you are absolutely sure it is safe. It is not fair to them.
Sharing your home with multiple pets can be a fun and rewarding experience, though stressful at times. As always, we are here to help! Schedule your free training consultation today!