I’m pulling together my thoughts for a presentation this Friday and want to share some of those ideas with you in this series. The first weeks and months with your new pet are very important – so many dogs (and cats) are eventually surrendered to shelters because the relationship didn’t get off to a good start.
11. Choose and prepare the place where your new pet will be spending most of its time. Many times folks set up a restricted space in the kitchen because of easy clean up. Make sure to remove all potentially dangerous items like loose electrical cords, cleaning products, breakables and plants.
12. When you actually go to pick up your pet, ask what food they’ve been eating and when they were last fed. It’s a good idea to keep the same feeding schedule and food, then gradually transition to new food and feeding times.This will help to prevent intestinal upsets. There is a lot of information available about the many types of pet food. Speak with your veterinarian and trusted experienced pet professionals, such as trainers, breeders and pet store owners. Read labels. Compare. Keep aware of recalls on pet foods and treats, too. How you feed your pet impacts both health and behavior.
13. Bring a collar and name/ID tags with your phone number when you first get your pet. The first few days days (and weeks) can be particularly confusing or stressful until the new environment and routine becomes familiar. Consider getting your pet microchipped at the first vet appointment, too. If your pet gets loose, you’ll be more likely to be reunited.
14. Start off on the right paw – as soon as you get your new friend home, be sure to go out to the designated toileting area. Spend time out there, allow for lots of sniffing of the new environment and make frequent trips, especially in the beginning. Be patient.
15. Remain calm and mellow around your new pet for the first few days. Be consistent and positive with the new routines, too. This will help to make the transition go smoothly and quickly.
16. First meetings with other pets and with other humans can be stressful. Make sure that children understand how to greet the new pet. Have a plan – and an extra human or two – to help with first pet-to-pet meetings. Keep all pups on leash. Be patient if the first greeting does not go as well as you’d like.
17. Get your new pet to the vet for a wellness check and any required vaccines. Remember to make this first trip a good experience with lots of positive rewards.
18. Continue to make sure your pet gets regular and sufficient exercise and playtime. A well exercised pup will be easier to train and may be less likely to chew inappropriately. Be sure to provide lots of chew toys, too. Don’t forget that cats need to play and an appropriate place to scratch.
19. Whether you know it or not, training will begin the moment you get your new pet. Make sure that all humans interacting with your pet use the same consistent vocabulary from the beginning – and that the same behavior is expected and reinforced consistently. We’ll cover more on training in a future blog post.
20. Remember that you and your new pet are experiencing a lot of change in a short amount of time. A calm, positive attitude – and lots of repetition – are the keys to a successful transition!