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Welcoming a New Pet

So, you got a new pet over the Christmas season? Congratulations! Caring for a new pet is quite a responsibility; but the love and companionship that you’ll receive in return makes it all worthwhile.  

Here are a few tips that will help you get off on the right paw:

- A little anxiety is normal:  Don’t be alarmed if your pet shows signs of stress and anxiety for the first week or so after joining your family.  Just like us humans, your pet will need to adjust to his/her new surroundings.  A few things to expect include:

  • Barking and whining
  • Nervousness and shaking
  • Frequent urination
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced appetite and water consumption

As noted, these are all normal and should subside as your pet gets used to you and his/her new surroundings. That said, if any of these persist beyond the first week, consult your veterinarian.  It is important to rule out the possibility of a medical issue that might need to be addressed.

- Separation Anxiety:  Pets are social animals and will quickly become attached to you and your family members.  If mom and dad are working and the kids are in school, your pet may well begin to show signs and behaviors related to separation anxiety.  Telltale signs include:

  • Chewing things like shoes, woodwork, furniture, books or even wedding albums while you are gone. (Please don’t ask how we know about this one. Just know that the wife was quite put out and both husband and dog were in the dog house.  And it set the husband back a few hundred bucks and a lot of groveling to repair the damage)
  • Accidents (otherwise known as peeing and pooping on the floor)
  • Extremely clingy behavior or even trying to prevent you from leaving the home

To avoid separation anxiety behaviors, do not allow your new pet to roam free while you are not home.  If possible, try to limit your absence to short periods of time.  If this is not possible, perhaps a puppy sitter or doggy daycare would be a better option for the first few weeks after you bring your new pet home.  It is very important to be aware of and prepared to deal with separation anxiety behaviors as these are often the primary cause of pets being returned to a shelter or abandoned all together.

- Socializing your pet: Experts agree that the window of opportunity for socializing your new pet is during the first three to four months of its life.  

Here are just a few tips for socializing your pet:

  • Take frequent long walks with your pet and vary the route.  This will give your pet the opportunity to explore his or her world and meet new people and other dogs while safely on his or her leash.
  • Enroll your pet in doggy day care or a dog training program.  This will give your pet the opportunity to socialize with both humans and other dogs in a safe and controlled environment.  We do not recommend dog parks in the first few months because you have no way of knowing if other pet owners have been diligent about their pet’s immunizations.  You also don’t want to risk your pet being injured by an unexpected aggressive dog.
  • Take your pet out in public as often as possible to expose him or her to lots of different sights, sounds and people.  This will help get your pet comfortable in his or her world.
  • Expose your pet to all the different sights and sounds in your home.  We all have lots of appliances that make strange noises.  Exposure to all those appliances and the noises they make will help ensure that your pet won’t see these things as a threat.
  • Give your pet lots of opportunities to interact with your friends and family members.  This will not only help your pet become comfortable with lots of different people but will also help you identify friends and family members who might not be comfortable around animals so you can adjust accordingly when they visit
  • Give your pet lots of travel opportunities.  Be sure to start out with short trips to make sure they are comfortable and not prone to car sickness.

Following these tips will help ensure your pet will be comfortable and secure with its new human family and its world.  

We’ll end with just one last tip:  Go at your new pet’s pace.  If you see your pet starting to withdraw or become anxious as you expose it to new situations, just slow down a bit.  Trying to rush the process may simply result in a more anxious pet.  So just go at their pace.  

And to your new pet, we say: "WELCOME HOME!"


All About Paws is a boarding, grooming, and doggie daycare service provider in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Located next to Ashby Animal Clinic,trusted veterinary clinic for over 40 years.

Contact Us today to schedule an appointment or to learn more!