Zeus with ball

Bringing Home a New Dog: 10 Tips for First-Time Dog Parents

You’ve taken the plunge and you’re bringing a new dog home. While welcoming a new pup into your home is exciting, it also can be a little daunting at first—especially for first-time dog owners.

Any time you are bringing a new dog home, whether a puppy or an adult dog, it’s best to prepare ahead of time and get an idea of what to expect.

Here are 10 things first-time dog owners, or existing dog owners getting a second dog, can do to make the transition easier.

1. Make sure you have the right dog food.

Your pup will need dog food right away. Find out what your new dog has been eating and decide if you want to continue that food or start transitioning them to a new food.

Check with your veterinarian to confirm that the food you use meets your dog’s individual nutritional needs. Different ages or stages can benefit from specific nutrients to help your animal thrive.

2. Prepare a place for your dog to sleep.

Set up a sleeping spot in advance. It’s generally best to start your dog with a confined space like a dog crate. This gives them a safe space of their own. Prepare it ahead of time, and add a cozy dog bed for them to rest on.

3. Assume your dog is not housetrained.

When bringing a new dog home, it’s likely they don’t understand that your home is a “no-potty” zone. Instead of giving them lots of space to have accidents, assume your dog is not house-trained and confine them in a dog crate, an exercise pen (aka ex-pen) or a small gated area when you are not around to supervise.

While you’re home, take your dog out of the confined space frequently, and give dog treats each time they go potty outside. If you are away from home for hours in a row, set up dog potty pads in the confinement area, so your dog has a “legal” place to go while you’re gone.

4. Limit how much of your home the dog can access at first.

“Accidents” in the house aren’t the only concern. Your new dog might like to chew on things, steal socks or rip up papers.

The best way to prevent damage to your things is to assume your dog doesn’t know which items are their toys and which are yours (so to speak). Gates, ex-pens and dog crates come in very handy here, too.

5. Give your dog his own "room."

Living in a new place can be overwhelming. Dogs need a place to relax and decompress. You can use the confinement area for this.

If your dog decides on their own to go into the confinement area while you are home, leave them alone. If you want to interact with them, call them and see if they will leave their safe space to come to you. If not, they probably need a break.

6. Come up with a routine, and stick with it.

Change can be unsettling. To help your dog adjust, come up with a daily routine for your pup.

For example, you could start the day with a walk and breakfast, then time in the confinement space until a dog walker comes, then confinement with a dog treat toy or chewie until you come home, another walk, dinner and time hanging out in the living room. It doesn’t matter exactly what the routine looks like, but the more regular the routine, the faster your dog will settle in.

7. Create a calming environment.

Like excitement, calm can be contagious. If you keep your cool, even when unsettling or annoying things happen, that will help your dog stay calm as well. Your dog also may benefit from calming pheromones, like an Adaptil electric diffuser, during this transition.

8. Remember: Patience is a virtue.

You and your pupper are new to each other. It will take time to adjust. Give your new dog the benefit of the doubt—they're almost certainly not trying to annoy you.

Think of ways to set them up for success. Do you need a dog gate to keep them out of a certain area? Do you need a dog walker to visit while you’re out? Are you accidentally encouraging the wrong behavior?

Exercise patience. In most cases, things will get better once your dog settles in.

9. What if my dog won't eat?

Some dogs stop eating in a new environment. For many animals, familiar food helps; for others, variety is the spice of life. Talk to your veterinarian about rotating foods, changing them about once a month and adding dog food toppers.

Establish set meal times, and pick up the food after about 30 minutes. This helps increase the dog’s sense of urgency about eating. You also can try feeding your pup from a food puzzle toy instead of a dog bowl—this works surprisingly well in many cases.

Another option is to use a food topper to make your dog’s meals more enticing. Make sure to add the food topper before you put the food down for your dog. If you wait until your dog refuses the food and then add the food topper, your dog may learn to hold out for tastier and tastier additions to the food before finally eating.

Tylee’s frozen food is a food topper a lot of dogs enjoy. It uses human grade ingredients and meets AAFCO dog food nutrition guidelines, so it’s good for your dog, too!

10. What if there's a major problem?

Many behavior issues—including housetraining issues—can be easier to deal with if you hire an expert. Don’t wait until things get really bad; early intervention always helps. As soon as you start to be concerned about a behavior, reach out to a certified professional dog trainer or a certified dog behavior consultant.

Thank you Chewy.com

Kittens eyes open

7 Things to Do When Raising a Kitten

Getting a kitten is a special time in a household. Whether the cat is a Siamese, a Maine Coon, a Ragdoll, a Persian, a Bengal or a mixed- or unknown-breed, you want to make sure you’re raising a kitten properly.

The first few months are a crucial time in shaping your kitten’s emotional and physical well-being. Not sure how to raise a kitten? Here are seven things to do when raising a kitten.

1. Wait to Bring Him Home

Never take a kitten away from his mother and siblings before he is 8 weeks old. The early months are fundamental in starting his life off healthy and naturally.

Kittens receive some protection against disease from their mothers through nursing, according to the American Animal Hospital Association. Experts recommend kittens stay with their mothers until they are weaned, which is around 8 weeks.

They also learn how to socialize with each other by interacting with their mother and littermates. Proper socialization can help prevent behavioral issues down the road. More on that later.

2. Provide Proper Nutrition

During your kitten’s third month, refrain from feeding him anything but veterinarian-approved kitten food and kitten wet food. Kitten food is specially formulated to provide kittens with the extra nutrients they need to grow into healthy cats. Most experts recommend feeing your kitten specially formulated kitten food until the age of 1.

Don’t forget to provide your kitten with plenty of fresh water.

3. Socialize Your Kitten

When raising a kitten, socialization is crucial in providing proper kitten care. Exposing your kitten to new people, animals and experiences will help build a foundation for a lifetime of positive behavior. A kitten who hasn’t been properly socialized may develop fear aggression and avoid human contact.

The main socialization period for kittens occurs between 3 and 9 weeks of age, but socialization opportunities should continue to be provided through the first year of life, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. During this time, safely and gradually expose your kitten to people within your household, as well as friends and family members who do not live with you, to other pets and to general life experiences, such as being groomed or going to the vet.

4. Use Cat Toys, Not Hands

To prevent cats from attacking human hands later in life, teach kittens that hands are not playthings.

“Do not play with the kitten with your hands, allowing him to claw or bite them,” says Jamie Thomas, executive director of Motley Zoo Animal Rescue in Washington. “Kittens learn to play rough, if you allow it, and they will not just grow out of it. You should use only toys to play with your kittens and have a zero-tolerance policy for your kitten putting his mouth on you.”

If you do allow this behavior, you will have a kitten that bites and scratches—both for fun and out of frustration or anger. If you have a single kitten, he will overuse his mouth and claws because he has not experienced the other side of it since he has no siblings. This bad habit also can cause problems with vet visits as well as introducing children or new people to the pet.

5. Handle Your Kitten Regularly

Kittens who receive human contact around 10 to 12 weeks old are more likely to get along well with people than kittens who don’t receive regular contact, according to the American Animal Hospital Association.

Help your new kitten get used to being patted, groomed and picked up. Do not shy away from holding and grooming your kitten, even if he appears skittish. With regular, gentle practice, he will grow comfortable with the handling.

6. Avoid Overprotection

Sounds, movement and new surroundings initially might frighten your fur baby. However, it’s important to gradually introduce your kitten to new sounds, sights and smells so he will grow to be comfortable around any sensory stimuli, says Pam Johnson-Bennett, owner of Cat Behavior Associates in Nashville, Tennessee.

Expose your kitten to different environments, including a variety of floors such as wood, tile and carpet. Your kitten also should be familiarized with a mix of cat toys offering various textures, colors and shapes.

7. Restrict Your Kitten’s Space

“Do not give a new kitten free reign of the entire house right away,” Thomas says. “Kittens are easily overwhelmed, and giving them space stresses them out.

“What they actually prefer is a very small world to start, until they adjust, and then you can increase their range,” she continues. “If you give them too much space too soon, they will be stressed, hide and can even develop litter box issues as a result.”

Instead, Thomas recommends the “slow release plan.” This means the kitten is stationed in one room where he has everything he needs: food, water, litter box, toys, scratcher, etc. Let your new kitten mingle or wander from the room with supervision, but when you leave or are sleeping, return him to the room and close the door.

After a short time—usually a week or two depending on the cat—the kitten can navigate a bit more and know where his “safe place” is, Thomas says. Should he become overwhelmed or stressed over something, he can return to that safe place when on his own as needed. All cats need a safe place where they can go to adjust and feel safe, and where no other animals will intrude.

Kittens can be raised to be well-adjusted, kind and sociable pets with the right guidance from knowledgeable owners. Start training as early as possible to project them in a promising direction for years to come.

Thank you Chewy.com