Dogs and cats have been domesticated for thousands of years. They have become trusted companions and roommates, but no matter how well-bred they are, we still need to provide education to ensure they fit into our modern human lifestyle. We can’t bring an 8-week-old fur ball into the house and expect them to know all of our house rules. Even rescuing an older animal will require some adjustment for both the two-legged and the four-legged members of the household.
First things first:
Set your boundaries before you bring the cutie home. Make sure everyone in the house is on board with the rules and why they are important. Examples: No human food. Never from the table or the plate. Why? Because dogs and cats have different digestive systems from humans, feeding them our preservative-filled food of choice can create major health issues. It can also disrupt behavior, causing counter-cruising and dumpster diving. Setting firm food boundaries is crucial to overall training. Another boundary might be furniture access or room access. If you do not plan on having your 80 lb Golden Retriever sleep on your bed, do not give in when she is 10 lbs. We get it, when the 8-week-old baby is crying in her cage, a little extra cuddle time is okay. But it will get old when she is 12 weeks, and has YOU trained to “rescue” her every time you put her in the cage. She will survive kennel time, and will soon appreciate the breaks in her own “den”. If she falls asleep in your lap after playtime, let her wake up in her cage. It will become normal part of her day.
Likewise, if you do not want your pet to overwhelm guests (some of who may be legitimately wary of our furry family members), teach them from a young age to wait patiently for attention. (no jumping or tripping!) This will make visits much more pleasant, and less stressful for all involved. In general, lowering expectations for any stressful moment; e.g. feeding time, leaving for work, arriving home, etc., will help your pet overcome separation anxiety. Humans can help their pets adjust to this by not making a fuss every time a pet is fed, or while saying goodbye. When you arrive home, it is best to ignore your pet (besides letting them out to do their business) for 10-20 minutes while calmly going about your own routines. This will allow your pet to adjust to your energy and realize that it’s all a part of a normal day. A great time to increase your energy with your pet is at playtime after potty business is done. A walk or run, fetch or laser-play, or grooming time is a fantastic time to pour some love into your pet.
With guests, make sure your guests are comfortable sharing space with your pet. If they have allergies, please make arrangements to have your pet in another area of your home. It would be highly stressful if your Persian prince bounces into your boss’ lap and she begins to have an asthma attack.