Bringing Home Your New Best Friend

Adding a pet to your life is a big step. Pets provide companionship, love, and fun, but they’re also a big responsibility because another life is now entrusted to your care. If you’re about to become a first-time pet owner, here are a few tips to help you prepare.

Choosing the Right Pet

Don’t buy a pet on impulse. Even if the puppy at the store is the cutest thing you have ever seen, if you weren’t planning to get a pet, go home and do some thinking and research before you pull the trigger. If you live in a second-floor apartment, for example, a puppy that will grow into a large dog may not be the best option. Consider how much space you have inside and outside, how much time you have to devote to your pet, and how much your pet will cost in terms of veterinary care, food, supplies, and more. Popular pet options include dogs, cats, fish, birds, guinea pigs, hamsters, lizards, and many more. Think about your health as well; if you’re allergic to cats, for instance, don’t get a cat, even if your kids are begging you.

Where to Get Your Pet

While pet stores exist in most areas, you should also consider adopting a pet from your local animal shelter. The staff there can help match you with the right pet, or you can check with local rescue groups that help animals recover from difficult situations before placing them in new homes. A resource like Petfinder, which lists thousands of pets available to adopt from shelter and rescue groups in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, can also be helpful. You can search by pets available in your area as well as by type of pet.

Preparing Your Home

Once you have decided on a pet, prepare your house before you bring the pet home. Make sure you have whatever food and water are necessary, along with the proper cages, leashes, toys, collars, and other supplies. Contact a vet to schedule a visit and make sure they can accept your pet as a patient. Determine if you need to add a fence or any boundaries to your yard to keep your pet contained.

Settling In

Time your pet’s arrival for a weekend or other time when you can be at home for an extended period. This will help your pet adjust to its new surroundings, which is especially important for rescue animals that may be understandably fearful because of how they have been treated in the past. Establish a bond by building trust and communicating with your furry friend. Also, spend time playing with and loving on your new pet; this will go a long way toward helping them get to know their new environment. If you have children, this a great time to get them involved in starting a relationship that may last for years.

Starting Off Right

Once your pet is home, it’s important to help them establish definite daily patterns, including eating, sleeping, and playing. Research when and how much they need to eat and what their bathroom needs are. Teach them where their food and water will be, and show them where they can and cannot go in your home and yard. Go above and beyond to give them as much human interaction as possible. Playing with them is one of the best things you can do as they adjust to living with you. If you have a dog and know you will be working long hours because of your busy schedule, look into hiring a dog walker to keep your dog active and entertained.

No matter what kind of pet you decide to bring home, it’s a big deal. Enjoy the process and celebrate your new arrival — just make sure to prepare everyone in the house before you bring your pet home. Follow the tips above, and before you know it, you’ll have a new member of the family!

Photo from Pixabay

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Help for Hand Shy Dogs

If your pup flinches or backs up a bit when you reach toward their head, they may be hand shy.   Here are some ways to practice desensitizing them to this issue.

Accept Reaching Hands and Touching

This exercise will help hand shy dogs become more comfortable with being touched. It is important to begin practicing with familiar and accepted adults first. Again, keep in mind that your objective is not for the dog to merely tolerate, but rather to remain relaxed and enjoy the process, and that an inexperienced helper can get bitten if you proceed too quickly without making sure that the dog is truly accepting rather than merely tolerating the touching.

Goal 1: Relaxed Dog will accept face touch from owner and/or helper.

1. Reach toward dog, stop 6 in. from side of dog’s face, treat from other hand.

2. Repeat reach toward dog, stopping 3 inches from face, treat from other hand.

3. Repeat reach, stopping 2 inches from face, then repeat stopping 1 inch from face.

4. Lightly touch the side of dog’s face.

5. Repeat toward chin.



Goal 2: Relaxed dog will accept collar and body touch from owner and/or helper.

1. As you feed the treat with one hand, touch the dog’s head with the other.

2. As you feed the treat with one hand, touch the dog under the ear and on the ear.

3. As you feed the treat with one hand, touch the side of the dog’s neck.

4. As you feed the dog with one hand, touch the collar.

5. As you feed with one hand, touch the dog’s chest, front legs, back, lower back, belly, down the back legs, the tail, and finally the paws.

6. Progress to touching from different positions and at different speeds.

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