Bringing Home a New Member of the Family

by Whitney Callahan
With 69 million households owning pets (according to the American Pet Products Manufactures Association), each of those families has had to incorporate their new dog or cat into their homes. It is easy to fall for the sad brown eyes in the whelping pen or on the other side of the bars of a kennel; it is not always so easy to have your pet assimilate successfully into the family and become a well-behaved member of your life. After the emotional decision, the practical work begins.
Bringing a new dog or cat into your home is very similar to bringing home a new child. Anything they can get into, they will. So it is best to make sure all household cleaners are put away, trashcans closed and those expensive nick knacks placed on a higher shelf.
Your new pet may seem hesitant at first. That is normal. Your pet is checking out the new digs. When you first introduce your pet to your home, show the animal where it will be going to potty - outside or in the litter box. Be sure to praise your new pet for not going on your new oriental rug. Remember your new pet may have to learn a new name, so when praising them feel free to say, "Good boy, Rover, good job!"
Most dogs only want to please. Good training will help dogs to associate positive things with their names. By the same token, never use your pet's name when punishing them. All new children make mistakes and your furry ones are no exception.
Most dogs will not go potty where they sleep. Crate training is very helpful in such training.
When work and life takes us away from supervising our new companion, the need to control the environment remains. Even an older dog or cat will have to learn your boundaries and may make a mistake or two.
A chew toy is a much better substitute for an old shoe or a couch. Dogs cannot tell the difference between that old slipper and your favorite pair of Jimmy Choos. Most importantly, no matter how many dogs you've owned, get your new friend into a dog training class. Puppy classes offer socialization and all training classes offer an hour each week to positively focus on training and bonding with their new family. Your local shelter, veterinarians and other pet professionals can recommend a good trainer.
When introducing your new pet to your household, remember it is a big adjustment for everyone in the home, including your other pets. If you have a dog at home already, take your puppy and the dog to neutral territory where they can sniff and get to know one another. If you have cats, keep you new dog or cat in an adjoining room until they can figure things out. Most puppies will learn that cats and dogs can be excellent companions.
When adopting a shelter dog, ask if that dog likes cats or would rather eat them for dinner. It is important to consider all members of your household, including your pets, when bringing home a new friend. For more information on making your adjustment as smooth as possible, consult your animal trainer or library. There are many resources out there for us pet lovers!
Whitney Callahan is the co-owner of Inn The Doghouse, a daycare, boarding and grooming facility for dog and cats. She was a Co-chair of F.I.D.O., the citizens committee that helped build the Lakewood Dog Park, and she serves as Vice President of CCLAS (Citizens Committee for a Lakewood Animal Shelter). Her family bred and showed Champion Chocolate Labradors and Whitney has whelped over 40 puppies. Her heart now belongs to a bullmastiff, "Dublin", and her rescue cats, "Bogart" and "Bacall". To contact Whitney directly call (216) 651-0873.
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Volume 1, Issue 4, Posted 06.21 AM / 09th August 2005.