Home Sweet Home: Settling In With a New Pet
It takes a lot of effort and discipline to care for, train and get to know your new pet. Dog trainer Vera Wilkinson, owner of The Pet Needs Company, emphasizes how much time it takes. “People are always looking for quick fixes,” Wilkinson says. “But we must teach our pets how to live with us.”
One of the biggest concerns of new pet owners is housetraining. Cats tend to be easy—most of them accept their litter box as soon as you put them in it. Dogs take more effort, and many vets and animal behavior specialists consider crate training to be an integral part of housetraining. For an introduction to crate training, see The Humane Society’s web site.
For Dawn Friedman of Columbus, OH, crate training was essential for her new pet. When she brought her terrier mix home, all Peanut did was cry. “We crate trained her right away,” Dawn says. “She was much calmer and happier once we wrapped a blanket around the cage so it was more closed in.”
As you teach your new pet the rules of the house, consistency is key. Choose your rules and stick to them. Language is important, as well, so use the same words repeatedly. Above all, adds Meyers, “Everything has to be positive and reinforcing.”
New Pet Paranoia: Is It All Worth It?
When faced with the reality of the time, expense and effort it takes to bring a new pet into your home, you may wonder if you’ve goofed. Max did, at first, but she soon realized it was worth it. “I thought I had made a terrible mistake getting a dog, but you just have to get through the first few months and learn how to adapt your life to having a dog,” she explains.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, turn to the professionals for answers, and keep the lines of communication open with family members.
Like millions of happy pet owners, Dawn says, “I can’t imagine life without Peanut, and neither can my children.” Pet adoption can be thrilling, challenging, frustrating and rewarding, so take your time and enjoy the fun and foibles.