By Robin Hawn Rhea, Senior Brand Manager
Benefits of a multi-pet menagerie are…many. In fact, 42% of pet owning households in the U.S. have multiple pets. Why are we all finding ourselves with herds of pets? Pets just seem to go well in pairs. Multiple pets usually means they get to enjoy each other’s company, and keep each other entertained so they have less occurrence of separation anxiety.
They often play together, which keeps their activity level up as they age, and they teach and learn from each other, which can make training easier. From a more selfish stand point, there is more to enjoy and more to love when you have multiple pets in your home. But keeping things to a low roar in a household full of furry and not-so-furry friends can be a challenge.
When Finn came into our lives last winter, it was a great experience but feathers still got ruffled especially at feeding time. Buckley became very possessive of her food bowl. I began feeding them in separate rooms. But then Buckley would go FIND Finn and start a fight. Luckily I got to talk to one of our best Training & Behavior Experts, Michelle Mullins. She explained that guarding tends to be the biggest issue multiple pet households experience. Our pets have preferences about what items and activities are important to them. Michelle recommends respecting your pet’s preferences when possible, while managing for safe and pleasant interactions. Training basic behaviors like sit and wait will make those situations much easier.
To keep the feeding frenzy to a peaceful level in my own home, using more of Michelle’s advice, I had Buckley sit while I served Finn’s food to him. Then, while he ate I stood between them. When she tried to get up, I reinforced the sit. When he was done, I gave Buckley her food and praised her. Buckley is nobody’s fool and she quickly understood that I was in charge of the food, not her. It worked great! But Michelle explained that even happy times around the barn yard can still require special attention. Play can turn into aggressive behavior quickly. Michelle recommends watching each pet closely to determine when play is getting over the top, and to redirect to a calmer activity.
She encourages pet owners to use breakaway collars when dogs are not supervised. Remember most of all to share the love. Michelle recommends taking time to give each pet some individual attention. Even plan some separate training and fun time with each pet, even if it’s just five minutes a day. Make the time extra special by incorporating your pet’s favorite treats. It is also important to know what issues you can handle yourself and when it’s time to call in an expert to help you tame your zoo. Read more at TrainMyPet.net, When it’s time to Call in a Pro.