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The 1st month guide – caring for your new pet

by Tim Kirby

Consider where your pet will be spending most of it’s time. Do you have a warm, comfortable sleeping place prepared?

Did you realise that, knowingly or not, you will actually begin training your pet from the very first moment you meet!

The first few days in a new home are a really exciting time for both you and your pet. It is natural for a new pet to feel a little confused in such new surroundings, and even a little nervous. However, by making sure that your family or housemates also understand how your pet feels, and what it’s requirements will be, the moving in stage should become a lot easier.

It is always worth performing the following mental run-through before your new pet arrives home…

Consider where your pet will be spending most of it’s time. Do you have a warm, comfortable sleeping place prepared, and as your new arrival may be a little confused, where is this best placed? It is not uncommon for a stressed pet to temporarily forget its already known house training duties, and some toilet “accidents” may happen. Therefore, being prepared and choosing an easy cleanable floor can make that process easier to deal with.

If your pet will spend most of it’s time in certain rooms, make sure that they are safe and any hazards such as ornaments, chewables or carpets are well fastened down, or even removed from the area. Breakable objects should not be within access of your pet, and a swishing tail can also cover a wide area!

Did you realise that, knowingly or not, you will actually begin training your pet from the very first moment you meet! This first interaction starts with words which you use to direct your dog, that also express your in-tentions. Similarly, your body language and tone of voice are immediately observed and reflected upon by your pet. Therefore, make sure that these words are consistent and also used by your housemates when addressing your pet. If a pet is constantly receiving commands where different words & visuals are used all the time, it can very easily confuse them. Therefore, keep it simple, clear and consistent.

Health and identity of your pet - Always know the ID of your pet, and this is available on it’s microchip form. If you sourced your pet from a previous owner, a change of ownership form must be completed. An accompanying veterinary vaccine certificate should also be sought, and micro-chipping is now a legal requirement in Ireland.

When you actually arrive home.

At this stage, we know that both you and your pet will feel a little trepida-tion as the front door opens for the first time. You both are entering a new relationship right! Any nervy moments are a natural reaction to change so don’t worry, we promise that they will pass! It is a good idea for you and your family to initially bond with your pet before introducing them to other people. Too many new faces all at once can be over whelming and too much information for your pet to process.

When your new dog arrives home, it is often a good idea to feed it a small meal which can help it to relax. The diet should be very similar to what it was previously being fed, and sudden changes in feed are not recommended and can actually cause stress. Slowly introducing a new food is always advisable and can help avoid tummy upsets. If you intend to introduce a new food, see our advise section on pet nutrition where we explain all about food.

After feeding, it is then a good idea to take your pet to it’s new toileting area. Having papers on the floor leading to an outside door will also help in the event of a “toilet emergency”. Please stay patiently with them until they relieve themselves. This habit will then become a normal learned routine over time. As this is a whole new chapter in your pet’s life, be prepared for the odd “toilet accident” which will be down to nerves. Once they become more settled in, normal routines will follow. Encouragement during this time is very valuable to your pet, and positive language can be very powerful.

Each day your dog will need to spend time bonding with you and your family, whilst also enjoying its own free time. Just like us humans, our beloved pets are also sociable beings, and enjoy some “downtime” or quite moments to themselves.

Key points for 1st few days…

  • For the first few days, just remain calm and allow your pet to become acclimatized to it’s new environment. Doing the basics right is the key. Keep all new people and new places to a minimum, as this will allow your dog to settle in more comfortably. It will give you both more bonding time and time to get to know one another’s traits.
  • Words and Ways – Your pet may have come from an environment where communication was mixed or even minimal, and as a result it may be confused as to how it should respond or react to com-mands or cues. You should therefore be prepared for sometimes unexpected responses to simple commands such as “sit” or even “come- here”. By using very clear words, backed up by positive reinforcements (a small treat), you can begin to train your pet in a positive growing manner. Our body language is also closely ob-served by pets, therefore bear this in mind also. For further infor-mation on pet training, see our regular petbond blogs.

 

Following Weeks:

  • New owners often say that it takes a few weeks before their pet’s true personality begins to shine through. We call this the “getting to know you phase”, where your pet learns more about your routines, whilst it also begins to express itself more. It is important during this time that you are patient, however keeping to routines around feeding and walking especially. This helps you both to understand one another more.
  • Always discuss your pet’s health and vaccination status with your local veterinarian. Once your dog has received it’s course of vaccinations and has been treated for worms, you should consider its socialization with other dogs. This can be a simple walk to meet other dogs in the park, or amongst larger numbers attending a puppy party. Either way, make sure that your pet is happy and comfortable in such an environment and not fearful or overly shy. In our puppy section, we discuss the absolute importance of the socialization period in your pets development.
  • If you are alarmed by your pet’s behaviour or actions, always contact your veterinary surgeon for professional advise. Sometimes they may see reasons to clinically examine your pet, or in many cases recommend your pet to a trusted behavioural expert. Reward based training programmes invariably deliver excellent results.

Always remember that there are so many resources and networks of pet loving people out there wiling to help you in any way. Just reach out!

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