Are you planning on adopting a puppy or kitten this holiday season? Congratulations on your new furry bundle of joy! However, bringing a new pet into your home during the chaotic holiday season can be filled with pitfalls, so our Loving Family Animal Hospital team has compiled tips to help you welcome your new pal properly. Let’s get started.
#1: Pet-proof your home prior to welcoming a new pet
Bringing home a new puppy or kitten is a lot like setting a toddler loose in your house. Their zest for fun and mischief can be adorable, but also destructive, and sometimes hazardous to their health. During your pet-adoption planning, consider how to pet-proof your home, especially during the holiday season, when many more potential perils are lurking. Your new pet will need time to learn the rules, so check your home for the following:
- Exposed cords and wires
- Accessible trash cans
- Unsecured, accessible household chemicals
- Small toys
- Gaps in your backyard fence
- Medications left on bedside tables
- Toxic plants
If you’re lucky, a new pet may finally teach your children to pick up their toys, jackets, and other belongings, lest they suffer from the puppy’s sharp teeth.
#2: Set and stick to a routine with your pet from the start
Learning about a whole new world is hard, and your puppy or kitten can easily be confused. Before you bring your new pet home, discuss their schedule with your family. Set up feeding, walking, playing, and sleeping times, based on your entire family’s schedule and availability. Once you’ve decided on a routine, stick to it. Pets, especially puppies and kittens, thrive on a predictable routine, and house training a puppy is much easier with a set schedule.
#3: Expose your new pet to new sights, places, and people
If you plan on adopting a puppy or kitten during the holiday season, all the goings-on can be incredibly overwhelming to a tiny pet in a new situation. While the socialization period, from 3 to 14 weeks of age, is perhaps the most critical part of your puppy’s life, you must socialize them properly to avoid permanent emotional and behavior problems. Unfortunately, a kitten’s socialization period ends at around 7 weeks of age and will likely have closed by the time you bring your new pet home. During this time frame, your new pet will learn a great deal about their world and form lasting impressions. Ensure each experience with a novel place, person, sound, animal, or situation is positive, and allow your pet to proceed at their own pace to prevent overdoing it. Pair each experience with a tasty treat, encouragement, and praise, and keep a close eye on your pet. While toting your adorable new puppy to all your holiday gatherings may be tempting, your pet could be terrified by all the strangers and loud noises. Proceed slowly, and give your new pet plenty of time to rest, relax, and decompress.
#4: Teach your new pet the household rules
As a family, agree on the household rules for your new pet. Will your Great Dane puppy be allowed on the couch? Will your kitten sleep in your bed? If you are all on the same page, your new pet will not be confused about what is allowed and what isn’t, making training much easier.
#5: Take advantage of your pet’s eagerness to learn
Young puppies and kittens are full of curiosity and an eagerness to learn. While old dogs and cats can learn new tricks, young pets tend to pick up skills more quickly. Take advantage of this time to teach your pet proper manners, obedience skills, and fun tricks. Sign your puppy up for a clicker training course, and be impressed at how quickly they’ll pick up on “Sit,” “Down,” “Shake,” and more. Or, teach your kitten tricks at home, using a feather wand and treats as rewards.
#6: Get your new pet a clean bill of health
In addition to investing time into socializing and training your new pet, you’ll want to ensure they have a clean bill of health and remain in tip-top shape. Puppies and kittens require a series of vaccinations to ward off deadly diseases, plus they often have intestinal parasites that need to be eradicated.
Once you’ve welcomed your new pet home, our Loving Family Animal Hospital team would love to welcome them into our family, too. At your new pet’s first wellness visit, we’ll discuss age- and lifestyle-appropriate vaccinations, diet, parasite prevention, behavior, training, and disease prevention. Give our team a call to schedule your pet’s wellness care and start them off on the right paw.