During the first few weeks with your new pet, everything they do is cute. From barking and sleeping next to you in bed to jumping and playing with your dirty socks…you are entertained by their adorable antics. Most owners spend a lot of time interacting with their new pets during these initial weeks. As time goes by and life goes on, the amount of time owners devote to their pets normally lessens. While sufficient play and love are still provided, the adjustment into the normal routine can cause some behavior issues. There are some simple steps you can take to minimize stress on both you and your pet and make this adjustment phase smooth and happy.
Have general knowledge about your type of pet
Be sure that you choose a pet that will fit in with your family, home, and lifestyle. You may have always wanted a rottweiler, but if you live in an apartment it probably isn’t a good choice. Big dogs need fenced-in yards, long-haired cats and dogs will need frequent grooming, and birds can be very loud. It’s important that you are prepared for the type of pet you want to bring home. Trying to force an animal to fit unrealistic expectations is a disaster in the making.
Animals need to be taught what is acceptable behavior and what is not, and it’s up to their owners to teach them. Decide what will be allowed in your home and be consistent. If you don’t want your dog sleeping in your bed every night for the next 10 years, don’t let them do it in their first weeks home. It may be cute to see your puppy jumping up when you come home from work but will it be welcome behavior from your 60 pound adult dog 5 years from now? Establish the rules and enforce them from the first day. With consistency, your pets will learn quicker and you’ll all be happier.
Plan for the right time
Bring your new pet home at a time when stress is low and no major changes are planned. Holidays or right before a vacation aren’t good choices. You and your pet will need time to get to know each other and find your routine. Plan their homecoming for a time when you may have a day or 2 to spend with them. Remember that your pet is being introduced to many new things in a short time and can be easily overwhelmed. Try to limit exposure to unnecessary people and places until they have had time to get used to their new family and home.
Prevent problems by providing a pet safe space. Evaluate areas your pet will have access to for items that may tempt them to chew or fragile items that could be knocked over and broken. Remove hazardous items such as cleaning fluids and poisons from the area as well. Provide appropriate enrichment items to encourage safe play and keep your pet entertained.
Establish a routine
Having a routine of feeding, walks, and bedtime helps relieve stress in your pet. It increases their sense of security and makes your life easier. Be sure to find a routine that will work for your household long-term and then stick to it.
If there are areas in your house that you do not wish your pet to go, begin training them to stay out from their first day home. Again, consistency is very important. Your pet will not understand if they’re allowed to get in bed with you one night and punished for it the next. Be sure all family members understand the rules and adhere to them.
With a little bit of planning and a lot of consistency, your pet’s transition into your home can be a smooth one. Remember, it is your responsibility to teach your pet how to behave. The time and effort you invest in working with your pet during their first weeks home will be rewarded with a lifetime of love from your well adjusted 4-legged family member.