5 Ways to Make Smaller Spaces Work with Multiple Pets

Small space living with pets doesn't have to be hard! When you repurpose pet accessible areas of your home and use our tips to help your pets get along with other pets, you can enjoy your small apartment or home with all your pets.

When you love animals, of course you’re going to open up your home to three dogs, the stray kitten that needs a family and the hamster your daughter begged you to get. Your home knows no limits. But how do you make sure that your pets get along with other pets in your house, especially if you live in a smaller home?

Blogger Kate Spears has rescued three dogs and lives with all of them in her home of less than 1,200 sq ft.

Kate and Ruthie

Kate's dog Grampy

Kate and Sweetie

She’s given us the 5 tips below for small space living with pets.

Tips on Having Multiple Pets in a Small Apartment or Home

1. Make sure they have different eating areas

“Dogs can show aggression around their food,” Spears explained.

Since animals tend to be territorial about food, Spears makes sure each of her three dogs is fed separately. This helps prevent them from nipping at each other or trying to steal one another’s food. Spears has even separated eating areas by room — one of her dogs eats in the kitchen while her Chihuahua eats in a different room.

In other words, to help reduce conflict in your home between pets, especially if you’re still figuring out how to take care of multiple dogs and cats, create barriers between animals while they eat. Using a baby gate as a barrier between your dog feeding area and cat feeding area is one strategy. You can also feed cats up high to keep their food out of reach from other curious pets.

When taking care of multiple dogs, it’s also helpful to reinforce their pack order. Once it’s clear who the pack leader is, feed him or her first to reduce chaos at home and make your dogs feel confident in their natural positions. In a small home, managing your pets’ interactions is essential.

2. Repurpose furniture and decor

Living in a smaller apartment or home obviously means you have limited room for pet beds, feeding areas and pet toys.

“Any time you want to get something to do double duty for you, I think that’s awesome to have that,” Spears said. “If there is a table with a little space underneath, why not put a blanket or a pillow in there and make that a little spot for them to chill out?”

Like Spears suggests, turn empty bottom shelves into cat or small dog beds. Purchase coffee tables that have open space underneath for pet beds or lounge chairs that have a designated pet space underneath!

Consider stylish cat shelves that can reduce the amount of floor space you use or elevated pet feeders with storage underneath the food bowls, which work well with larger dogs.

3. Make sure each dog has its own safe space to go to

Some pets can get anxious in small homes if they feel too crowded or don’t feel like they have their own space where they can retreat. Spears’s Yorkie, Ruthie, has a blanket basket that she’ll curl up in where she clearly feels safe. Creating a designated pet space helps soothe your pet if they feel anxious with any other dogs or people around.

Spears explained that to the dog, “it reminds them that everything’s still the same, it’s still your house.”

To create a secure pet in a small space, place a small basket with blankets underneath a coffee table or desk. You can also invest in dual purpose, small home furniture like we already mentioned.

Multipurpose furniture options, such as dog crates that double as living room side tables, are often a perfect way to create a unique space for your pet. When you’re caring for multiple dogs and cats, make sure you have at least one bed option for each pet!

4. Have multiple pet toys

Dogs can get territorial about their toys. Spears’s older dogs may not play with toys as much, but she buys three versions of her dogs’ favorite toys so each dog has their own. Spears has noticed that having a toy for each pet helps reduce the conflict between pets.

Having multiple toys helps prevent “resource guarding” that pets inherently do. You can also teach your dogs to share if you truly don’t have room for multiple toys.

5. Socialize them

It’s important to socialize your dogs at a young age to get them comfortable with other animals of all sizes. Otherwise, keeping your pets in a smaller space will cause you and them numerous problems and stress.

Socializing a dog while it’s a puppy is the prime time to train their behavior and help them become a friendly and confident adult dog. After the first three years of their life, many dogs stop enjoying playing with other dogs. That’s why as they age, you should introduce your dogs to new animals and humans in a gradual manner.

“If we are entertaining and having people over, sometimes we introduce them to the people slowly,” Spears said.

Continuing to introduce them to strangers and other dogs can be useful as it reminds them of how to behave appropriately around other animals. Some dog breeds, such as Golden Retrievers and Golden Doodles, tend to have very friendly temperaments and are easy going with adults, children and animals alike. However, it’s perfectly normal for older dogs to stop wanting to meet other dogs.


Space Maximizing Style Guide

Maximize small spaces with 10 tips from this practical style look book.

Are you ready to find your dream home?

Start shopping now or find a Clayton Family of Brands home center in your area to learn more about Clayton Built® home options.