Although I have thankfully never had to deal with this issue on my own (I doubt very much that our rabbit, Nugget, thought twice when we brought Penny the Cat home for the first time), I’ve heard through the grapevine that introducing a new pet to an old one can sometimes be a bit challenging.
Animal jealousy doesn’t even have to rear its ugly head just with new pets—pets you’ve had for years may start to develop jealous behavior, too. To help make it through the hard times, here are some suggestions on the best ways to deal with pet jealousy—should it ever arise.
Go With Nature
While it may go against everything you feel, sometimes the only way to truly curb jealousy is to think naturally. What I mean by that is the fact that dogs are generally used to living in packs, and in these packs there is a clear pecking order. This can apply to the household, as well. If one of your dogs, who is meant to be the “pack leader” of your group, sense that you’re treating everyone the same, he may start to get a bit jealous. If this happens, try determining which pet appears to be the true leader of the pack, and try following what comes naturally for the animals, meaning you could offer that pet his food first, greeting him first, etc. It might seem harsh, but it could solve your problem.
Remove the Problem
Sometimes jealousy in animals happens for the exact same reasons it might in people. Perhaps your baby won’t stop playing with your cat’s toys, or your cat is always sniffing at your dog’s food bowl. If you start to notice signs of jealous behavior in your pet (disappearing, always trying to get your attention, acting out, etc.), try paying attention to what might be causing the problem, and remove it. Perhaps you keep the cat in the bedroom when you feed the dog, or you hide the cat toys in places only your cat can find them, and not your baby.
Stay the Course
While it might not always be easy, changes in routine can cause animals to act out, and it’s important to keep their patterns as routine as possible. For example, perhaps the newest member of your family (a baby!) is making your pet jealous. As much as you can, try to keep feeding, walking and playing with your pet as often and at the same times as you did before baby came along. This may help your beloved furry friend feel like she’s still part of the (growing!) family.
Up Your Play Time
When all else fails, a little extra playtime with your cat or dog may be all she’s looking for. If you notice that your animal is looking or acting a little down in the dumps lately, try spending an extra 10-15 minutes playing with her every day for a week. After a little while, she should start to come around.
Image: uvw916a / via Flickr