How To Manage A Large Pet Family In A Small Home


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By Maggie Clancy

As a studio apartment dweller, my life is no stranger to clutter. Add in my two chihuahua mixes and my calico cat, and there is a whole other level of potential chaos. Living in a small space with multiple pets has its challenges, but fortunately, there are steps you can take to make sure you and all of your animals coexist peacefully.

1. Management is key

(Photo Credit: Maggie Clancy)

With multi-pet households, it is essential to have a certain level of management over your pets, even if it is low. For example, I know that my older chihuahua, Genie, can become possessive and aggressive if my other pup, Betty, decides to play with one of her favorite toys. Because of this, I always make sure to keep this toy up and out of reach if I am not home to insure no fights go down while I’m out. In multiple animals households it’s not uncommon to see aggressive outbursts, just like you might see with kids. Knowing what sets off this aggression and managing it properly will make your life a lot less stressful.

2. Invest in a really good vacuum

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Given their compact size, apartments and other cozy abodes are prone to feeling and looking dirty very quickly. When you add multiple animals, even if they are not heavy shedders, that dust and dirt piles up quickly. For the sake of your air quality and to keep allergens at bay, invest in a heavy duty vacuum with a HEPA filter. If your animals are heavy shedders, set up a weekly cleaning routine to keep your small space from becoming an allergy sufferer’s worst nightmare.

3. Give each pet their own space

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Even in a small studio apartment, all three of my pets have their own little havens. Betty has a blanketed crate she likes to lay in. Genie has her corner of a giant pet pillow. Pookie has a window sill cat lounge. Giving each of your pets their own space not only keeps them happy, but helps you in the cleaning process as well. You can clean or wash that space once a week to keep everything fresh.

4. Groom your pets frequently

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A happy home is a home that doesn’t reek of dog blankets and cat litter. While you will still need to clean on a more frequent basis, keeping your pets non-smelly will help keep unpleasant pet odors at bay. I give each of my dogs a bath once a week, and I make sure to comb out Pookie’s hair daily and apply dry shampoo weekly. Not only does it keep your space fresher, it keeps your pets healthy and happy as well.

5. Consciously give each animal one-on-one time

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When I get home from work, I used to have the bad habit of playing with my all-too-excited-to-see-me pups and then greeting Pookie, my cat, with a quick head scratch. I have since made the conscious effort to make sure I am giving each of my pets equal affection. Giving all of your pets in a small space one-on-one time helps alleviate the fear that encourages resource guarding and separation anxiety issues.

6. But be sure to make time just for you

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When the four-legged family members outweigh the ones standing on two, it can be hard to get some time just to yourself. For the sake of your sanity, be sure to make time and have a space that is just for you. You can’t keep your pets happy and healthy if you are not happy and healthy, plain and simple.

Living in a small space with multiple pets can be trying at points, but it can bring so much joy into your life as well. Do you live in a small space with multiple pets and have any additional tips? Let us know in the comments.

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