When you bring home your new pet, there are a few things you can do to ensure you both get off to a good start.
- Teach boundaries. From the first day, determine where your pet can or cannot go and what things you don’t want your pet doing. Pets are creatures of habit. Once they do something a few times, they tend to continue that behavior. If you’re OK with your dog jumping on the couch or other furniture, that’s fine; however, if you’re not, stop the behavior right away. Once you determine your boundaries, stick to them, even if those big brown eyes melt your heart. Remember, what may seem cute now (chewing on pillows, for example) can be disastrous later on. Realistically, many of the boundaries we set will be trial and error. Sometimes it takes bad behavior for us to take a look at a situation, declare it out of hand and make rules that will change it. Pets can get mighty creative in their curiosities and in their sometimes stubborn rebellions.
- Housebreaking. Of course there will be accidents; however, the goal is to housebreak your pet. Cats are easy. Bring your kitten to the cat box and put her in it. As long as she knows where the box is, mission accomplished. Dogs take a little more effort. There are many methods to successfully housebreak a dog, but sticking to the same regimen is key and rewarding with a treat and or a kiss reinforces good behavior.
- Obedience training. It does more than ensure an obedient dog. It ultimately makes for a happy dog and a happy pet parent. Training classes, offered by humane societies, veterinarians, select pet stores or private trainers, socialize dogs so that they get along with other dogs and people. They also teach the basics for good behavior and train you, the pet parent, how to be the head of the household.
- Pick a knowledgeable and caring vet. Your veterinarian is critical to your new pet’s health. General check-ups, vaccines, flea control and heartworm prevention must be taken seriously. Don’t select your veterinarian based only on location. Instead, choose a veterinarian you feel comfortable with. Visit the veterinary office first. If the staff is friendly and the office smells good, you are on the right track. Ask to meet one of the veterinarians. If you all get along, then you’ve probably found your pet a family doctor.