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After You Adopt

Integrating Your Adopted Pet Into It's New Home

Even the most normal of households is a new and often frightening experience for an adopted pet. Rescue animals might be overwhelmed by a new home, especially if it includes children, other pets, or a lot of noise. Here are a few ways to ease your new pet's introduction to your home.....

(1) First, ensure that all your pets are healthy and current on their vaccinations before introducing your new pet.

(2) Keep your newest family member in a secure room, a quiet place where he can relax and other pets can't get in, until he becomes comfortable with his new surroundings and people. Be sure to give him plenty of love and attention in this haven, and also provide food, water and toys. If your new family member is a cat, this is where the litter box or any climbing structures should be as well. This private area allows your new pet to feel comfortable in one part of the house, while allowing your other pets to continue to have the rest of the house as they get used to the sounds and smells of the newest pet.

(3) Make introductions slowly. Avoid confronting your new pet with friends, family members, or even other pets all at once. Start gradually (on leash for dogs), and keep interactions gentle and positive with lots of treats and praise.

(4) Slowly expand the area he can roam. Use baby gates and closed doors to block off a small part of your house, as needed. Oftentimes curious cats will sniff and play "footsie" under the door as they're getting to know one another. This works well if you have the new cat confined to a bedroom. It allows the resident cat to smell the new cat under the door without fear.

(5) Always supervise interactions and redirect potential problems. Keep a close eye on children and other animals, and be prepared to intervene if necessary.

(6) Keep your new pet confined when you have to leave until you're confident he can stay home alone without breaking any rules or destroying things. And let's face it, sometimes things just happen.....

Your pet's adjustment period may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks or longer. Until then, be patient and consistent in your guidance. And remember that experiences early in your pet's life determine their social nature later on. Make sure these experiences are positive. Your new friend will eventually settle in and figure everything out.

Housetraining 101 for Dogs

The stress of relocation, abandonment and other emotional or physical issues may cause a newly adopted dog to have housetraining accidents. Or the dog may not have been reliably housetrained ever, which is difficult to correct in a shelter environment.

Reinforce your adopted dog's housetraining the same way you would train a new puppy... First, supervise at all times. When you can't watch your dog closely, leave her in a small accident proof room, sturdy pen, or crate if she's ok with it.

A rescued dog may already have a pattern of eliminating where no one can see or in odd places, so keep a sharp eye on her. Dogs who have been punished or yelled at for eliminating in the house may seek out of the way areas so the owner can't see them eliminate. Some dogs may be sensitive to the certain textures under their feet and only eliminate on certain types of areas, like concrete.

Choose a place for her potty spot, and take her to it at regular intervals. Reward and treat her every time she uses it.

While in the house, watch for signs your dog needs to eliminate, such as sniffing the floor, especially in one spot, or circling and squatting, and immediately rush her to the designated potty area. Clean up mistakes quickly and thoroughly so she isn't encouraged to repeat them.

As her housetraining becomes reliable, gradually allow your dog greater access to the house and yard. If she still has elimination issues after this crash course in housetraining, contact your veterinarian to rule out health issues, then see a certified trainer.

Laws of the Litter Box

For single cat homes you need at least two litter boxes for easy accessibility. Place at least one litter box on each floor of your home in a quiet, convenient place that is easy for your cat to find and that you will remember to clean. In multiple cat homes, have one more litter box than number of cats. A home with two cats should have 3 litter boxes.

Scoop litter boxes daily. A clean litter box is one your cat will most likely use.

Litter box locations should be quiet. Keep the box away from high traffic ares of your home, and from places where your cat could be ambushed inside the litter box by the family dog or other cats.

Never interrupt your cat while in the litter box. Don't try to catch or medicate your cat while in the box.

Cats like routine and don't like their litter box moved to a different location.

Change the litter completely once a week. Wash the box with a mild detergent and dry before refilling.

Contact your veterinarian if your cat repeatedly goes to the bathroom outside the litter box. Commonly, medical problems are the source of this behavior.