Often, humans are surprised by changes in behavior that occur as a result of changes in the dynamics of the household when you add or subtract a pet. This could be the addition of a new puppy, adopting a cat, or sadly, the loss of a beloved pet.
While changes can be positive, they can also result in unanticipated tension or conflict which can be immediate or slowly escalate over time. A more obvious consequence is outright fighting among the animals. Other changes might be less obvious such as a change in the location where an animal spends time. If for example, an animal no longer spends time in the family room but opts to be upstairs and away from you or the other animal. It is important to ask “why?”. Does the animal isolate or spend more time upstairs or away from the family now because of low-level conflicts among animals, physical pain, or something else? Sometimes these conflicts remain at a low level but at times they can escalate. We recently had a client state that their cat now gets on the countertops in the kitchen much more often. We figured out it was since the addition of a new dog. We suspect the cat wants a higher place to escape to be away from the new dog as there is chasing happening. Another change could be in eating habits such as eating faster or not wanting to eat. Adding another dog can add stress around and over food. Sometimes we see changes in interactions with toys. The new dog enjoys toys and now the dog you had for 5 years that has not shown any interest in toys now suddenly does want to interact with toys. Overall it is important to make sure that each animal is comfortable in the home.
With the recent loss of our Sammy we are noticing that Chobani is now much more interested in interacting with other dogs whereas, in the past, he would rarely want to say ‘Hi’ to dogs. We have also noticed that other dogs and people are also more interested in him now that he does not have his big brother along. These are just a few simple examples. We are curious, what have you noticed?