1. PICK THE RIGHT PET FOR YOUR LIFESTYLE
If you want to camp, hike and swim, CHOOSE A PET that is suited for the activity and with the temperament to match. Some pets that cannot go with you or prefer to stay home and hang out with family members might not be the best MATCH YOUR LIFESTYLE. And vice versa if you pick a pet that has been bred to work, hunt or herd for hours on end, your pets innate desire for mental and physical exercise might be more than you bargained for. A pet's TEMPERAMENT is more important than its CUTE looks when selecting a lifelong family member so choose wisely. Many shelters have MEET YOUR MATCH programs or adoption counselors that will help you in selecting an appropriate companion for your family.
2. PREPARE YOUR HOME IN ADVANCE
Before your pet comes home, DECIDE where they will eat, sleep, go potty, play and exercise. Decide what and when you will feed them and where if any places you will designate off-limits areas and potty areas. Also decide how and when you will provide appropriate playtime, exercise, walks and mental stimulation. Make these decisions before you bring your new pet home so you can implement the HOUSE RULES from the beginning and not confuse and frustrate your pet in the process. Knowing what is appropriate and what isn't for a particular pet will make life a lot easier for both you and your pet.
3. BUILD A TEAM
It takes a village to raise a pet and look after them at times when you cannot. Identify a veterinarian, pet sitter, trainer, groomer, dog walker, etc. INTERVIEW people in advance or get REFERRALS from those you trust. Ask about their experience, philosophies, schedules, pricing and so on. SCHEDULE your new pet's appointments with each of them in advance if possible. WATCH how your pet interacts with each of them. Knowing how they respond to different people will help you decide if they need additional training to become comfortable with new situations, or you might find that pet care provider isn't the best match for you and your pet and look elsewhere.
4. CREATE HOUSE RULES
Consult with your family members and DEFINE HOUSE RULES for the pet, such as acceptable greeting behaviors (e.g., jumping up and giving you a kiss, allowed on furniture, sleeping on family member's beds, cats jumping on counters or tables and so on). It's easier for pets to adhere to these rules when they are consistently enforced by all family members. DO NOT allow your pet complete freedom in your home, too much responsibility can make them overly anxious can lead to destructive behavior. Dogs are den creatures and a KENNEL TRAINING is key for your newly adopted dog. It can become a safe haven for them and gives them a life skill! HIGHLY recommended.
5. EXPECT AN ADJUSTMENT PERIOD
It can take weeks or months for your pets to ADJUST to a new home and family routine. Your new pet might be more reserved in the beginning and gradually become more confident and boisterous, or vice versa. During the first few weeks the pet is home, ESTABLISH ROUTINES and get to know each other. Hold off an going to group training classes for your dog, dog parks and other environments that might be overly stressful for some dogs that haven't experienced these places. Be PATIENT and BUILD TRUST with your pet first. It might take three to six weeks for a dog to RELAX enough in their new home before they can get the most value from classes and other activities. By waiting a bit, your new pet has time to bond with you and you have time to learn more about our pet so you can help them adjust to stressful situations.
6. ADJUST YOUR SCHEDULE
Spend some TIME at home with your new pet so they feel comfortable in their new environment before you leave for an extended period of time. Brief ABSENCES at the beginning will help your pet adjust. If you'll be away from your home for long periods of time, consider hiring a pet sitter or having friends and family help out when they can for a few hours. When you leave, DON'T make a big fuss. When you return, keep it low key (especially for dogs). Your goal is for your new pet to accept your comings and goings as a normal routine; nothing to get excited about. This will help you all in the long run.
7. EXERCISE DAILY
Adjust your schedule to allow for EXERCISING for your dog and playtime for your cats. That might mean waking up earlier in the morning, coming home for lunch or skipping your favorite tv show so you can go for a walk together or practice training. Most dogs benefit from at least a 30- 45-minute brisk walk a day. If that is not possible to fit into your schedule two 15-20 minute walks will be of great benefit. RUNNING is a great outlet for some dogs, hiking, swimming, dog parks are also great outlets for those dogs that tolerate it. Treadmill is a great indoor machine during winter months or really hot days.
8. START TRAINING
Keeping a LEASH attached for the first few weeks after bringing a new dog home when they are out of their kennel, could save a lot of problems from forming. A group class might be too much stimulation too soon for your new pup, so consider hiring a PRIVATE TRAINER to come to work with and help you begin training. You can implement BASIC COMMANDS into your daily routine from the start. Having your pet give you the wanted behavior before any rewards. Asking them to SIT before they eat, exit doors, attach the leash, etc. Preventing an unwanted behavior from forming is a lot easier than correcting a problem behavior that has become a habit, so it is definitely WORTH INVESTING the time, money and patience in training.
9. CHOOSE A SPORT OR HOBBY
Animals love to do ACTIVITIES with us, so if you are adopting a dog think about what activities they would like to do with you! Nosework? Agility? Rally? There are so many activities and sports to choose from. Once you get to know your pet a little better, you can decide whether they might like a quiet low-key activity or whether they have the energy and temperament for some of the more energetic sports.
10. CELEBRATE YOUR PETS
Take a few minutes a day to simply CELEBRATE and SPEND TIME with your pet. Each pet is different, so finding out what their FAVORITE ACTIVITIES are, will make for a healthier, happier life with your pet. Some animals would just like to sit with you and observe the world, and others might like to play an intense game of fetch or a walk around the block. Remember to celebrate the pets in your life and BE THANKFUL for what they teach us!
"Rescuing an animal won't change the world, but it will change the world for you and that rescue animal."
DISCLAIMER: Due to the lack of regulations and the nature of the animal industry, as well as the changing practices of pet professionals - Midwest Animal Welfare Society, Inc. cannot be responsible for the actions of other pet professional companies and organizations. This includes pet professionals that have trained under the Life Changing Dog Training™ and Communicative LeashWork Process®. We will do our very best to connect you with pet resources and services and educate you on best practices, tools and information to help pet owners. However it is up to you the individual to do your own research and make a decision to hire a pet professional or work with an organization that will best meet you and your animal's needs.
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