Finally! After all the preparation, the nervous excitement of the meet and greet to find your perfect match, the shopping for pet supplies, the home preparation, and going through the whole nine yards of the pet adoption process, you’re bringing your new pet home!
Aside from all the fun parts associated with welcoming a new family member, there will of course be some not-so-fun but crucial parts which you must go through as a new animal parent. You know what we mean!
When welcoming a new pet, someone needs to help the animal develop a routine which meshes well with your lifestyle. You will also need to help the animal adjust to living with you. If you are adopting an animal in the family, another thing that needs to be settled is who gets to be the disciplinarian (a.k.a the bad guy) – and we’re pretty sure no one truly wants to be the least favorite pet parent! We’d all rather just cuddle up with the new cutie, right?
Okay, let’s talk about reality here. When we got our newly adopted goldendoodle Westin, the first few hours were pure bliss. He was shy at first but then he started to enjoy exploring our home. Needless to say, just like any puppy, he did manage to get into things he wasn’t supposed to play with (even though we puppy-proofed our home!), arrggh!
So what should new pet parents do when something like that happens?
Remember, it is All About Change, Change, Change!
Bringing your new pet home means a brand new time of change and adjustment for the whole family. If you have other pets and they all know that your prized antique-collection is off-limits, then guess what, the new fur kid does not know that!
In this installment of The Ultimate Guide to Pet Adoption series, we’ll talk about the wonders and pitfalls of the adjustment period which highlights the first few weeks after bringing your new pet home. We like to call this part the honeymoon period, but let’s not look at it with rainbow-colored glasses shall we?
This adjustment period can be a soft-and-fluffy- bed-of-roses experience or a thorny-bed-of-roses experience depending on how prepared you and your home are for the new arrival. It is indeed all about being prepared for lots of change – let’s look at a few:
Bringing Your New Pet Home Begins with: Preparing Your Home
There are a lot of ways you can make your new animal friend feel right at home, and we don’t just mean getting the right pet supplies! In our article on on preparing your home, we talked about the things you must have in place at least a day before the new pet arrives. We suggest brushing up on that chapter of the Ultimate Guide to Pet Adoption series plus our article on pet care before heading on to the rest of our book.
So are you ready? Here we go!
Bringing Home Your New Pet Starts with Proper Introductions
Yey! Your new pet is coming home in just a few hours! We bet you’re so excited and can’t wait for your loved ones to see your new friend; but wait – are you sure you are doing this the right way?
Whatever type of animal you’re getting, you have to understand that you would have to help the pet to properly adjust to living with you. This means that you may have to take certain things slowly - such as not throwing a big welcome party where you invite tons of people to see the newest addition to your family. Things like that can get very overwhelming for an animal, especially if the animal is from a shelter. Remember the differences between animal shelters and animal rescues?
While it is true that most shelter animals have some idea of how to be social and be in group settings (from their old homes), the first few days with you can still be bewildering even from a friendly pet’s point of view. Just imagine how it would be for you if you suddenly found yourself being whisked away to a new country where you don’t speak the language and you are forced to meet stranger after stranger who wants to pet you? We have a feeling you won’t find that experience very enjoyable, just like how animals must feel, right?
So how do we go about proper introductions? It is actually rather simple. The animal would have to meet the members of your household first and bond with them. That’s it! It’s easier said than done but we’re positive you can do it!
Jessica Martin, the Director of Healthy Pets of NYC Incorporated shared with us some great tips on proper introductions when bringing home a new pet dog for families with babies and resident dogs - and we’re sharing them with you in the next paragraphs!
“About babies: Let the dog hear the baby, smell your baby (from afar, dogs have great sense of smell!), after a few days introduce the baby to him in a safe environment (both mom and dad present if possible) A quick sniff and you are done. Slowly add more time.
About dogs: let the dogs smell each other, from afar. I you can keep them in separate rooms or areas for a couple of days, that is a good idea. Take them both out for a walk ‘on leash’ (you hold one and your husband or friend holds the other). After a block, switch dogs. Both the resident dog and your new addition will know that they are together and will get used to each other. Allow together time at home, supervised by you in order to make their transition easier. This would also apply to your neighbor’s dog!”
The same applies with cats with a few adjustments of course – especially when it comes to the litter box! For more information about cats, you should check out our article on How to Help Your Cat Survive a Move. Cats are highly territorial so any new home is a major change from a kitty-cat’s perspective.
Bringing Your New Pet Home: First Rule (For You) Is Setting Boundaries
Why is this rule for you? Well, too often, bad pet behavior is a product of the pet parent’s failure to set the boundaries right from the very first day. You cannot blame a dog for treating the couch as his bed if you’ve let the dog do so from day 1.
What we are trying to say here is that if there are certain things you don’t want the animal to get into, that should be clear from the very first time the animal tries to get to it.
Beagle 911 shared with us some pointers on setting boundaries when dealing with a dog:
“Even if your dog comes housebroken, you may experience a few accidents due to nervousness and a new environment. The following suggestions will help with the transition.
Do not give the dog full roam of the house immediately.
Confine the dog to the room you are in so you can watch him/her. A dog will not typically soil its bed area, so restricting to a single room helps them to identify that as their ‘area’.
When you leave, again, confine the dog to a single area, such as a kitchen.
After a few days, you can begin expanding the dog’s freedom, 1 room at a time until they have run of the house.
Note: If your new dog is a male, introduce him to your home by putting him on a leash and taking him from room to room. Allow him to sniff furniture, etc. If he starts to lift his leg, give a tug on the leash and say “NO” very sternly, then proceed to the next item/piece of furniture. Most times, you will only need to do this for a day or two before he learns not to mark the house. Do not let him have the run of the house until he no longer wants to mark the furniture.”
What else should you keep in mind as a new pet parent? Ever had a cat go for a piece of meat that fell from the table? Or have you had a puppy throw a tantrum whenever you don’t give it what it wants? You have to understand that these acts are not the animal’s fault. They do things like that because they think it is okay. If you don’t want an animal thinking that anything that falls on the floor is fair game, then stop the animal once it tries to get the table scraps. That way, the pet would understand what you want it to do and more importantly, what NOT to do. In other words, training!
Successfully Bringing Your New Pet Home: Start Training Your Pet ASAP!
House training should begin as soon as you get to the door and yes, we mean that! Training your pet starts with how you let the animal explore your place (especially true with dogs and cats and how you respond to its antics.
If you want the dog to have an identified place of its own like a crate or a bed, then that should be clear from the very first day. If the cat is not allowed to be inside the bedroom, don’t let it get inside that room in the first place. What this does is train the animal with boundaries (just like the previous tip).
But how about animals that can’t be trained, such as cats? If you think cats can’t be trained, think again. There are known cases where a cat has been trained so successfully that it won’t touch a piece of tuna right in front of it unless given the go signal. Sure it would take a lot of patience (and we mean A LOT!) but it is surely worth it later on. How about hamsters or guinea pigs? Can they be trained as well? Of course they can!
Most pet parents don’t know that training an animal means more than just teaching it tricks. Training means teaching the animal your ground rules, what is acceptable or not acceptable, what things are for fun, when to expect dinner, when to play, when not to bother you, and how to relate to other pets and people. While you can do most of the pet training yourself, it certainly won’t hurt to seek professional help or advice when needed.
Now, let’s talk about the ugly part of bringing home your new pet, dealing with behavioral issues!
Bringing Your New Pet Home: Being Ready to Address Behavioral Issues
Behavioral issues can sometimes come up because the pet’s owner has some sort of misunderstanding or expectation as to how the animal should behave. We are not saying it is the pet owner’s fault if the animal has some behavioral issues; however, let’s not discount the fact that the majority of behavioral issues could have been easily prevented or corrected if only the pet parent knew what to do with the pet.
The best way to deal with possible behavioral issues is avoiding them in the first place. How? With proper training, introduction, and setting ground rules as discussed above. You also have to be honest with yourself regarding what you are looking for. Have a realistic view about a perfect match before going through the meet and greet and the pet adoption process, this will significantly minimize the possibility of welcoming a pet with behavioral issues.
It is all about reading up on proper pet care and having reasonable expectations. Now that that part has been said, let’s move on dealing with behavioral issues which can develop despite all your efforts to prevent it.
First off, a lot of behavioral issues can be a sign of an underlying health problems. When a cat which has been previously well-mannered begins eliminating outside of its litter box, it is trying to tell you that something is wrong (thanks to Darlene of Happy Endings Cat Shelter for sharing this insight!). The same goes with a pet who is previously fine with being held but has suddenly become defensive and violent when someone approaches to pick it up. Instead of blaming the pet and abandoning it at a shelter, stop and consider the possible reasons why the pet could be doing this.
If a cat stops using its litter box, it can be a sign of medical problems such as kidney stones (or the litter box needs some serious cleaning!). Another scenario is that the pet now hates being picked up; it may be experiencing pain when held the wrong way. In fact, this story is from an episode of the TV series My Cat from Hell, wherein the previously sweet cat became a spitting fur ball of claws and arm-shredding destruction. It turned out that the cat developed rheumatoid arthritis and being picked up hurts so bad that it felt the need to protect itself. Wouldn’t you be all hissy as well if being given a hug felt like being hit with a baseball bat over and over again?
If ever things seem to be too overwhelming for you, contact the shelter or rescue where the animal came from. Chances are, the shelter staff or the foster family know what may be going on and there may be no issue at all.
Just to share, we’ve heard of a story of a dog who would almost always turn its food bowl upside down and create a mess before eating. The new pet parents thought that the dog was being difficult but decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and did some investigating themselves. It turned out that the dog is simply not used to the type of food bowl the new pet owners are using and prefers one that resembles a plate. Problem solved! Hey, you can’t blame the dog! That’s like being handed some fork and spoon after being used to eating with chopsticks all your life. He simply doesn’t know how to ‘use’ the new food bowl!
The lesson from this is that there can be plenty of reasons why a pet can seem to be exhibiting behavioral issues. No matter what the problem is, there are medical solutions and natural homeopathic remedies to a lot of pet behavioral problems, especially the ones which are caused by an ailment. Don’t give up on a pet just because you think it is acting up or is deliberately being a pain!! How would you feel if your partner ‘returned’ you to your parents just because you hog the bed sheets or that you mumble in your sleep? Sometimes the solution may just be as easy as a bit of training/retraining as recommended by our animal expert friends Keyria Lockheart from Last Hope Cat Kingdom, Robin Crowley of Rover Rescue, and Anne Fifield of Basset Rescue Across Texas, or simply communicating with the people who have handled the animal prior to you.
Bringing Your New Pet Home : Giving the Gift of Life
Everyone deserves a second chance. By adopting an animal from a shelter or rescue, you are not only changing that animal’s life for the better but are also giving yourself the gift of a richer life filled with love and affection. Isn’t that the best gift ever?
We hope that this chapter on bringing your new pet home helped you out with some insight on how to help your animal friend adjust to being a part of your family. Because we consider animal lovers like you as part of our family, don’t hesitate to contact us about a possible customized homeopathic product to help your pet. Whether your pet has arthritis, an ugly coat, pet allergies, the dreaded halitosis (although some pet parents find that endearing!), or even parasites and worms, we’re just a phone call or an email away. We would be glad to assist you and your new animal baby adjust to being a part of each other lives so you can enjoy the blessings of a loving pet-human relationship, just like we did with our new puppy Westin!
Don’t want to miss the next installment of this series? Then sign up for our newsletter! Joining our email friends list is completely free and ensures that you’ll get all the juiciest and freshest pet-related articles delivered right to your inbox! See you next time!
HOMEOPATH & CO-FOUNDER OF ZUMALKA
Suzie Cyrenne co-founded Zumalka over five years ago, and has worked in naturopathic pet medicine for more than six. Day-to-day, she works as the lead manager for the Zumalka staff and specializes in training the team to have thorough knowledge of pet health and the company’s extensive line of naturopathic remedies.
Suzie has gained a lot of experience from years spent in the pet health field and she earned her degree in Homeopathy at the School of Classical Homeopathy in Quebec, Canada, (a partner of the European Academy of Natural Medicine (AEMN) in France).
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