Thinking of Getting a New Pet? Read This First.

IMG_3842 Thinking of Getting a New Pet? Read This First.

Thinking of adding a furry (or scaly, or feathery) friend to your home? Springtime can inspire feelings of rebirth and excitement, and is also a time when many folks decide to add a new pet to the family.

There are plenty of great reasons why this is a popular time to add a new pet to the household– warm weather makes house training puppies easier, summer vacations mean more time at home with your new friend, and longer days provide more time for walks and socializing with your pet.

After spending 5 years as a Humane Society CPDT (Certified Pet Dog Trainer) and animal behavior and adoption specialist, I’ve seen thousands of animals find new homes in the spring and summer months, but I’ve also seen many animals end up back at the shelter once that summer glow fades.

If the sunshine and abundance of baby animals have you considering a new pet, check out these 5 tips for a smooth transition to support a fulfilling and vibrant relationship for all seasons to come.

1. Choose Carefully

While it may be tempting to take home the last little puppy or kitten of the litter, take time to determine how that animal, as an adult, will fit into your lifestyle. How much room do you have in your home? Where will your new friend sleep? What, and how much, will they eat? How much exercise and attention will they need, and do you have the resources – energy, money, and time – to support them? Different breeds of dogs (and even cats) will require different things to be happy and healthy. If you’ve ever had a pet before, you know that when your pet is happy and healthy, you will be too, so take some time to carefully consider your lifestyle and how a new pet will best fit into it.

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Mary and her dog, Tinkerbell.

2. Transition Takes Time

Especially if your new pet is from a shelter or adoption center, it can take time – up to a few months – for a new dog or cat to feel comfortable in their new home. This is especially true for adult animals. Don’t be surprised if your new companion acts differently when you get them home than they did at the adoption center, or if they act out or display behavior problems like digging, chewing, clawing at furniture, or barking. Domestic dogs and cats thrive on stability and consistency, and transitioning between shelters or homes is disruptive to their natural tendencies. Be as consistent as possible with your new pet’s environment. Avoid repeatedly moving your pet’s comfort items like their bed, food, and litterbox (how would you like it if your bed and bathroom kept being placed in different parts of the house?) and strive to maintain regularly scheduled exercise, feeding, and play times.

3. Respect Your Other Critters

Do you have other pets already in the home? Adding a new animal will have an effect on the comfort and stress levels of current four-legged residents. It’s usually best if you can arrange a time for your current dog to meet their new potential roommate outside of the home, and before committing to taking the new pet home. Allow dogs to meet on neutral territory, without treats or toys around, and on a loose leash (pulling tightly on a dog’s leash while they are investigating a new dog can cause them to feel restricted and vulnerable, thus triggering a defensive response to another dog’s approach). Cats can be very weary of new felines in the house, and sometimes it’s even more stressful on your current cat to bring them out of the home to meet a new cat. The key to introducing cats in the home is to take it s-l-o-w, and give everyone plenty of space. Cat behavior guru Jackson Galaxy has some great tips for cat-cat and cat-dog introductions here.

4. Make a Plan

Adding a new pet to your life is exciting, and provides many opportunities to enhance both you and your family’s life, as well as the life of your new friend. Make a plan to attend training classes with your puppy or dog to prevent behavior issues and share some fun bonding moments together. Get excited about trying out different toys to see how your new kitty really loves to play. The name of the game with welcoming a new pet into your home is taking the time to build a strong relationship from the beginning, which will create a lifetime of connection for your pet. 

5. Have fun!

Animals and humans have shared their lives for thousands of years, providing support and companionship to one another. Having pets in our homes influences how our homes feel and operate, and and can provide an abundance of health benefits. If you’ve done your research and are ready to help a new pet transition successfully into your home and life with other family members and pets, then it’s time to embrace this exciting time and have fun with your new pet. It may be once every 10-15 years, or hopefully longer, that a new pet enters your life, so take the time to play, have fun, be present, and enjoy!

With love & tail wags,

Your Conscious Homes Team

Written by Noelle DeWitt Pierrat on behalf of Conscious Homes

Consider adoption first – there are thousands of pets in your area that will make wonderful lifetime companions. Looking for a pet in the Boulder area? Start here. Outside of Boulder? Find your next pet here

IMG_5156-1500x630 Thinking of Getting a New Pet? Read This First.

The author’s adopted dog, Ollie, and cat, Lola.

Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu

“May all beings be happy and free” – Sanskrit Mantra

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Noelle DeWitt Pierrat is a contributing writer for the Conscious Homes blog. She spent 5 years dedicated to strengthening the relationship between pets and people as a CPDT (Certified Pet Dog Trainer) and animal services specialist at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. She now teaches humans yoga and fitness classes, and pursues her creative and geeky sides by blogging and developing websites.