Your newly adopted pet: how to give a thoroughly warm welcome!

Your newly adopted pet: how to give a thoroughly warm welcome!

16/09/2016

We recently enquired via Facebook about your personal experiences with pet adoption. Remember that very first day at home like it was yesterday? The excitement, the warm welcome, getting acquainted with one another....  Adopting a cat or dog is a truly rewarding experience, yet the beginning of your 'relationship' can be fraught with tension. Sadly, many rescue pets have had a turbulent past. About to adopt a cat or dog? Then you'll no doubt have been in touch with a number of animal shelters or rescue foundations, and will likely have gone through all kinds of procedures to find your perfect match. Then suddenly the moment that you've been waiting for finally arrives: the day you get to collect your much-longed for pet! This is how you prepare for that special day.

Is your home suitably stocked for the settling-in period?
Caring for your new arrival over the coming days will be a full-time job. Moving home is extremely stressful for your cat or dog. Their entire life will be turned upside down and they will naturally turn to you for comfort and support! Which is why it's better that you don't leave him or her alone during those first few days. Make sure you stock up on essential groceries and pet supplies in advance: a basket, blanket, food, treats, food bowls, toys, a brush and possibly a crate, litter and other essentials.

Tamara's cat wouldn't venture out from under the bed during the first six months. Then one day she suddenly felt safe and secure enough. She's now a lively and affectionate little 'cuddle monster'.

Have you freed up sufficient time?
It's best not to arrange any appointments that will force you to leave your home during the settling-in period. Take a week off from work and try to avoid any other commitments so that you can dedicate enough time to making your new companion feel at home. Have an unavoidable appointment in your diary? Then arrange a dog sitter or cat sitter in advance. And preferably one with plenty of experience so that your pet feels comfortable during your absence.

Can you provide plenty of peace and quiet?
It's tempting to shower your new cat or dog with loads of attention, games and fun! But give your pet sufficient time to adjust. Introduce children gradually by allowing them an occasional 'visit' and slowly build-up contact over the first few days. Instruct visitors not to approach your new family member directly and let him or her determine the pace of first introduction. And always provide a safe, quiet and private place to withdraw to. First impressions can be overwhelming, so give your pet the time and space they deserve.

Sophie rescues street dogs. Whilst some are initially fearful, others are happy and relaxed from the very outset. Here are Sophie's own canine companions: a Romanian dog and a Chihuaha

Do you have the patience required?
Patience is the most important requirement for building a strong bond with your adopted cat or dog. Your new pet might be anxious or uncertain. It may not eat or drink much during the first few days and might not want to accompany you outside or do its 'business'. Such behaviour can be an indication of stress. If your dog doesn't feel like eating, don't force it. Instead remove the bowl and offer food a little later. A dog will usually regain an appetite after a couple of days. If your dog still doesn't eat or pee, then call your vet or animal shelter to discuss a plan of action.

Some rescue pets feel instantly at home and are extremely grateful that you took them in. Others will take days, weeks or even years to adjust. However, your patience will always pay off in the long run. And giving an animal a new home and a second chance at happiness is an extremely rewarding experience. Recently a adopted a pet? We'd love to see photos of your furry friend! Share them at Facebook or via Instagram using the hashtag #Pawshakeau