Almost no one takes this into account when choosing a new pet

By Dr. Becker

Finding the perfect dog or cat to add to your family is sometimes a matter of falling in love the moment you lay eyes on your new pet. More often than not, though, it’s not that simple, which can make a potential pet parent nervous about making the wrong choice.

To complicate matters further, shelters are not the best environments to meet your future four-legged best friend. Most animals feel scared and stressed in shelter situations, so it’s unlikely that your potential companion will be able to do their best under such difficult circumstances.

It’s also important to remember that love at first sight is often not an accurate measure of the depth of the bond that can develop between the pet and its guardian over time.

As an adopted dog or cat learns to feel safe and loved in a new home, their true character is revealed and is often very different from their “shelter personality.” Here are five important tips for creating a mutually satisfying relationship and lasting bond with your newly adopted pet.

#1 – Do your homework before choosing a new pet

Especially if you’re a first-time pet sitter, you’ll need to do a lot of research to understand whether a dog or cat is better suited to your activity level and lifestyle. THE the age of the animal will also be a factor: Puppies and kittens often require more effort and patience than adult dogs and cats.

Before you decide, talk to knowledgeable shelter staff about what type of animal is best for you. Allow them to point you in a direction and keep your brain and heart busy so you can make the best choice for you and the pet you adopt.

Abandoned animals usually come with information about their lifestyle and past circumstances that can provide very useful clues for the future.

For example, a young dog who grew up in a home with many children will have a very different set of behaviors than an older lapdog who lived with just one elderly person or a hunting dog of middle aged who lived in a kennel outside.

Some animals at the shelter were strays, so their past circumstances are unknown, and some animals arrive completely untrained or with behavioral problems. It’s not their fault – they depended on humans, and someone failed them along the way.

Since your future animal companion may come to your home with baggage, you must be prepared to put in the time and effort necessary to help them succeed in your home. Behavior modification using a positive reward system is the key to encouraging good behavior.

You may be able to do this yourself, or you may need help from a veterinarian or animal behaviorist. Please just commit to doing it. Be the only human in your pet’s life who doesn’t let them down.

If you are considering adopting a dog, to help him adjust to your home in the least stressful way possible, consider picking up a copy of “A sonic start” before his arrival.

You can apply the tips and tricks in the book (as well as use the calming, stress-reducing music CD) immediately after bringing your new family member home.

#2 – If your new pet is a dog, start obedience training from day one

As soon as your dog comes home with you – from day one – you should start teaching him basic obedience commands like come, sit, stay and down.

You may find that your dog can already follow basic commands. You may also find that you need to take it very slowly, working on just one order per day or for a few days or weeks and then moving on to another order.

Repeating a command over and over again will not make your puppy listen better. If he doesn’t seem to understand you, seek the advice of a positive dog trainer to help you communicate more effectively.

Studies show that taking obedience classes with your dog builds his trust in you and strengthens the bond that develops between you. This helps your canine companion learn desired behaviors and helps you understand why he behaves a certain way.

If your dog is having trouble adjusting, it’s a good idea to wait several weeks before enrolling in formal training classes outside your home.

It is also a good idea to assume your dog has not been socialized by the previous owners. At a minimum, he is not socialized to all the stimuli of his new life with you. It will be your responsibility to expose him to all the sights, sounds, smells and other living creatures of his new environment.

Be careful not to overwhelm it, however. Let him set the tone and gently encourage him if he is particularly shy or timid.

#3 – If your new pet is a kitten, enroll him in kitten kindergarten

Socialization isn’t just for dogs. Research shows that kittens also benefit from positive experiences with lots of people, animals, unfamiliar cats, new environments, and human handling.

Kindergarten for kittens is designed specifically for kittens aged 8 to 15 weeks who have received their first round of kitten vaccines. This is the time when they are most receptive and open to learning new things and bonding with other kittens and humans.

Classes offer young cats the opportunity to interact and play with people and other kittens. The goal of kitten kindergarten is to teach positive behaviors, which will help prevent the development of troublesome behaviors in the future.

Kittens who attend preschool during the critical developmental period of 8 to 15 weeks are more likely to be friendly and social adult cats. They are also better equipped to deal with life’s daily stresses, such as a change in their human’s work schedule or the arrival of a new member in the household.

#4 – Find a veterinarian whose approach to caring for your new pet matches yours

In veterinary medicine, there are allopathic and holistic practitioners. Those who combine the two approaches are called integrative practitioners.

Allopathic veterinarians are doctors of veterinary medicine (DVM) traditionally trained in Western or conventional medicine. The general approach of allopathic veterinarians is to treat the symptoms of a disease with medication and/or surgery. The main goal is to treat existing symptoms.

Holistic veterinarians are also DVMs. They receive the same training in the same institutions as allopathic veterinarians; they receive the same license and certification. They then pursue additional training in alternative healing methods, including herbs and nutritional supplements, chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, nutrition and movement therapy.

The goal of holistic veterinarians is to promote wellness and prevent the development of health problems. Integrative veterinarians bring the philosophies of Western and alternative medicine to the treatment of patients. Both types of drugs have practical application in pet care.

In your search for the right veterinarian, it is important to know which treatment approach you prefer for your pet. When you and your veterinarian work as a team, you are more likely to schedule regular health exams and your pet will receive an optimal level of care.

#5 – Give your new pet time to adjust and lots of positive attention

If you work full time and plan to bring your new pet home on a Saturday and then return to the office on Monday, I’ll be honest: you’re asking for a problem. Especially if you adopted a dog.

It’s the very rare animal that can settle into a new life in less than 48 hours, or spend 8-10 hours alone in a strange new environment without going a little crazy – especially if that animal is a dog with baggage that has just been thrown out of a shelter.

I recommend taking at least several days off to properly welcome your new pet, acclimate them, and ease them into a consistent daily routine. Many pets who have been with their families for years do not do well when left alone for many hours each day. So it’s easy to imagine how difficult it is for a newly adopted shelter animal.

The more time you spend with your new furry friend, giving him lots of positive attention and teaching him the rules and routines of his new forever home, the better the outcome will be for both of you.


Related Articles:

  What you need to know before bringing home a new pet

  12 Reasons to Adopt the Least Adoptable Shelter Animal

  Before Adopting a Pet, Make Sure You Can Say Yes to These 9 Things

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