The more the merrier

Tell any pet parent that three is a crowd and all you’ll get is a pair of raised eyebrows or a sound lecture on how that holds no good. Look around and you wouldn’t be surprised at homes that have more than one pet – homes that thrive on a lot of woofs and wags, along with the love and licks.

Parul Chandra’s two dogs – a German Shepherd and a Pomeranian – and herself is a single woman working out of home. “I’ve grown up in a home full of pets, hence, it’s no surprise to those who know me that I continue having pets. It’s a saving grace that Bosky and Hugo have me around mostly since I operate out of home,” she says, adding, “At the end of the day, when I sit back and watch the babies (not literally) snooze or squabble among themselves or simply do nothing, life seems so blissful.” A full house is always a pleasure for any pet parent. The logic they go by is simple – if there’s one, why not another one. Having a pet at home is also synonymous with companionship.
Of course, there are a few logistical considerations that need to be considered while opting to have more than one pet at home and few of these include:
Ample space: Having more than one pet at home is a conscious decision that one needs to make weighing all the pros and cons. The topmost among these should be space – both within the home and outside. Irrespective of the size of the pet you keep, it’s simply not acceptable or justifiable to cram them up in a small home. Just like humans, they too don’t want to jostle for space. Also, dogs need regular movement and exercise outside the home to stay fit. As a pet parent, one must be in a position to provide these and more comfortably to all the pets at home.
As film actor Priyanka Upendra in Bengaluru, the proud pet parent of three dogs – one St Bernard and two Siberian Huskies, shares, “It’s a house full you know with them all over the place at the same time. In fact, I wouldn’t ever dare to keep three together if I didn’t have the convenience of space in the bungalow we stay in or even the adjoining lawn. It’s imperative they get all the running space they need, just as we.” Priyanka, the mother of two school-going kids, Ayush and Aishwarya, is thrilled with the way her kids bond with the pets. “It’s wonderful to see them all together running havoc in the lawn or even in the house. I think these pets have a calming influence on the kids. In fact, they also have a very positive effect on the elders at home,” she says.

Smartly dealing with sibling rivalry: Pets are no different from your two-legged babies. Just the way an older child might tend to feel insecure when there’s another baby at home, an older pet too is most likely to go through such feelings on the arrival of another pet at home. Hence, it’s a matter of careful handling that could come to a pet parent’s rescue. The idea is to get them to co-habit peacefully rather than develop insecurity, which might lead to aggressive behaviour.
One caution that any pet parent should exercise if you decide to have multiple pets at home is the initiation process of the new and old members of the household. This can be a very tricky affair and mostly determines the course of future interactions.
Shyamala Unni had one Golden Retriever for three years before she got home another one. She recollects, “I was apprehensive initially about how they would take to each other and would always be on guard when they neared each other. Over time, which included long play hours or strolls together, they started getting along well, very well in fact. When I look back, I feel my fears were baseless but I’d like to believe I was plain lucky.”
Responsible parenting: More dogs at home also mean more works and there’s no escaping the grooming, feeding, exercising sessions for either of them, irrespective of breed or size.
But more dogs also mean more love and memorable moments to look forward to. Every dog has a personality of his own and that makes life with them as much a challenge as fun. In fact, studies on pets have shown that they too can act as sounding boards to each other, apart from the others living at home.

Maintaining harmony

  • Early socialisation & basic training: Make sure you socialise all your dogs early and they are trained for the basic training.
  • Be the alpha member: Let all your pooches know that you are the alpha member and they all need to follow your commands.
  • Toy safe: Dogs can be possessive about their toys, so whenever you feel there is some aggression because of a particular toy, remove it immediately.
  • Exercise together: Exercise them, preferably at the same time. You wouldn’t want the other to feel sidelined as you walk out of home with one of them.
  • Dealing with food aggression: Food aggression is very common when there are multiple pets at home. Keep their food and water bowls separate. Take special care during meal times to prevent tempers from flaring. If required, feed them in different rooms.
  • Give them individual space: Just like us, they too need a quiet moment with themselves. Don’t insist on them staying together always – rather provide them with a separate comfort zone, complete with a warm rug, bed, a cushion and some toys.
  • Beware of infections: Timely medical examinations are a must with multiple pets at home. They tend to catch sickness easily from the other and you wouldn’t want to have a home full of sick babies at the same time.
  • Spay/neuter: It will go a long way in controlling aggression and will be easier to maintain.
  • Individual quality time: Your pets dote on you – so you must take out time to spend quality individual time with them rather than treat them as a collective one.