Bringing Home a New Pet. Part 1.

Are you thinking about welcoming a new furry friend into the family? How exciting! Congratulations! As exciting as this will be for you, we’re sure you’re aware of the work it will take. Pets help to complete a family – that’s for sure – but we have some tips to make this new responsibility a little easier for you. Check them out below:

Puppies

Your family’s first step in welcoming a new puppy into the home is to create list of responsibilities among your family members: decide who will let the puppy out, who will feed the puppy, who will make veterinary appointments, etc.  An extremely important part of puppy training is getting your entire household on the same page with the vocabulary you will use to discipline it. Using words they will commonly here otherwise in your home will make your disciplinary tactics less effective. For example, “No” isn’t the best choice of word, since people say this frequently in their everyday vocabulary. Consider coming up with a noise instead, that is only used when your puppy is doing wrong. Instead of “down”, which could also be used for fun to get the puppy to lay down, try “off” as a way to tell the puppy to get down or off of something. Use key words such as “outside,” “treat,” and “food” to tell your puppy when it’s time to enjoy such things. They’ll get used to the phrasing and they’ll even show excitement when you say those words. Picking a consistent, uncomplicated vocabulary is the easiest way to get your pup to listen. Also, dogs like schedules, try to keep yours on a consistent one if at all possible. A good routine for a family that’s away from home during the day might be to feed first thing in the morning and let out, let out and feed as soon as you get home in the evening, and maybe give a treat before bed. Your pup will look forward to seeing you even more because of the routine, and the pre-bed treat will teach them it’s time to settle down for the night. Any consistency you can give to the dog will truly benefit your family as well.

Now it’s time for a pre-puppy shopping trip! This is probably just as fun as actually bringing the puppy home! You will need to purchase a variety of supplies – food and  water bowls, chew toys, grooming supplies, bedding, collar and identification tags, leash, and a crate to keep them in when you’re gone and overnight, until you know you can trust them around the house otherwise. The crates provide a sense of security for the puppy as well – it’s their space. Their comfort zone. Puppies can have a tendency to chew, so it really helps to keep them in the crate when you’re not able to keep an eye on them.

Believe it or not, you should also “puppy-proof” the house. This includes storing household chemicals or cleaners on high shelves, taping loose electrical cords down, removing plants (some plants can be poisonous if eaten by animals), and setting up the puppy’s bed/crate.

When you are picking up your new pup, ask what their current schedule is for feeding and try to replicate that for the first few days. If you don’t plan on using the same type of dog food, change the food slowly over time. First start off with one part new food and three parts old food; then switch to equal parts; and then one part old and three parts new.

On your way home with your new puppy, the puppy should ride in the backseat, preferably in a carrier or in someone’s arms. When you get home it’s important not to overwhelm the pup. First, take him to where he will be going to the bathroom. Then, give him some time to check out his new home and get adjusted. From there, go about your scheduled routine for the puppy. Most importantly, remember to be consistent your new pup will thank you!

Kittens

Before you bring your kitten home, you will want to “kitty-proof” the house! Look at your home through a curious kitten’s eyes, as they can get to very high places and into tiny spaces. Take down any breakable items that are up high that could be knocked off. Also, check for holes or small spaces you wouldn’t want your kitten getting to.

Adjustment periods for kittens tend to be quite a bit longer than that for puppies as they are particularly sensitive to new surroundings.. To avoid a catastrophe, provide one space for your kitten to call home for the first few days. Bathrooms and laundry rooms work very well since they are traditionally a small space that isn’t frequently visited. Furnish the room with kitten amenities – food, water, litter box, bed, and toys. After a while, leave the access to this room open, allowing them to explore the rest of the house on their own terms.

When setting up the litter box and food, try to keep them away from each other. Cats won’t go potty where their food is, so you have to keep a distance between the two if you want your furry friend to actually use the litter box. Kittens will pretty much lay wherever they want to, but if you’d like to set up a designated space, just make sure there is enough room for the kitten to turn all the way around in.

When you bring your kitten home, you will want to open the cat carrier and wait for the kitten to come out. Don’t force it out of the carrier and don’t immediately pick it up and start moving about. Let your kitten get acquainted on his own time - if he doesn’t approach you right away, leave him alone and try again later.

If at all possible, keep your kitten’s food the same as what they were being fed before you brought them home. If you’d prefer to switch, do so gradually by mixing with the old food until you can safely feed the new stuff only. Kittens can have very sensitive stomachs, you just have to be patient when switching to the new food so they don’t get sick. Be sure to refresh their water every few days, and if your kitten isn’t eating or drinking as much as you think they should, call a vet for advice.

Cats have to scratch their claws somewhere out of habit (and you’ll want them to so their nails get worn down) – but what you probably don’t want is your furniture to be destroyed because of this habit! Thus, we recommend that you provide your kitten with an acceptable scratching place. One option is to lay cardboard down for him to scratch at. However, a majority of kittens like to extend their body upward, so a scratching post would be a good choice. To encourage your cat to utilize the scratching area/post (and not your furniture) sprinkle it with catnip or hand a toy for him to play with from the top.

We hope our tips on welcoming a new pet home are helpful to you. Part 2 of this pet series will be posted tomorrow – if you are looking for tips on ridding your home of pet stains and odors, be sure to check it out!

 


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