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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Adding a new friend to your furry family

speaking at U of I
I am starting off this year's public seminar topics with a talk about how to add a furry family member to your home. I am excited about offering this topic. I love to help people get a good start with a new furry friend.  This Sunday ( Jan. 22) I will be at Pet Tropics in Charleston at 2 pm, and next Sunday(Jan.29) at Prairie Land Feeds in Savoy Illinois.  All the talks are free, about 1 hour and please call us to let us know you are coming - 217-253-3221.
  Many people have adopted or purchased a new puppy or kitten at Christmas time.  I have also seen some newly adopted rescued pets from local shelters ( Hooray!).  The health care needs such as vaccination, worming, or neutering has usually been addressed.  What many new owners are missing is exactly how to help this new family member feel secure and know how to behave in this new home. If you look online you will be hit up with a bunch of information, some that may be contradictory or just TMI.  What usually happens is new owners just try to figure it all out by themselves and then they can run into some problems.  I just want to cover some of the most common problems in this new adjustment period here.  Come to my talks to get the whole story - and bring your questions too.

making friends at puppy class
For new puppies, not getting feeding on a routine twice daily with taking the pup out on leash hourly when out of the crate leads to housetraining problems. The fix?  No punishment - repeatedly doing the same steps- and everyone in the family participating is what leads to quick housetraining.

Keeping your puppy at home, not going on walks or meeting new people or things leads to fear problems later.  Get your puppy out for meeting and greeting and puppy kindergarten starting at 8 weeks old.

Butterscotch loves his daily walks
For older dogs - not holding to feeding, walking and play routines causes increased anxiety, accidents in the home, and may uncover aggression problems.  Keep these dogs on regular feeding schedules, walk them even if you have a fenced in yard, and use play as a reward and release for energy.

ranger still gets into things!
Kittens - They will get into many things, jump or climb onto counters and want to pounce on anything. Set up play times with your kitten for 15 minutes straight where they will chase a ball, laser light or pounce on a stuffed toy to tire them out.  Put their food into empty plastic bottles or Kleenex boxes to make them work for it and leave the garbage and counter tops alone.

adult cats - not adding a litter box, food dish and at least 3 new perching places for this new cat you add causes disagreements with any other cat in the house.  Cats don't really share well so provide extras for the new buddy.  Also humans need to play with the cats individually to help them have an outlet for play as well.

If everyone who has brought in a new pet to their home followed some of these points, our shelters would be about half as full as they are.  Preventing behavior problems by starting off the right way is the best way to build a good relationship with your pet from the start.  If you are having trouble and the usual advice is not working, ask your veterinary staff for help.  Some of the problems may be due to the age of the pet, possible health problems, or even genetics.  What the normal behavior is for your cat or dog at this age, with their health, and their breed is best addressed by your veterinary staff. 

Good luck and I hope to see you at some talks.

Dr. Sally J Foote  CFBC-IAABC