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What to consider when bringing home a new pet

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Thinking about adding a new four-legged friend to your family? These are some considerations to keep in mind as you prepare to bring a new pet home.

1. Give your new pet some space.

Joining a new family and transitioning to a new home environment can be an overwhelming experience for some pets. The ASPCA advises giving pets a bit of personal space to let them acclimate to their new surroundings. For example, if your pet hides under the bed or in a corner away from all the action, don’t force your pet out to socialize. Give your pet a safe space and time to adjust to all the changes.

2. Be patient establishing boundaries and behavior expectations.

In a new environment, your pet will need to learn what’s expected. This includes learning which rooms in your home or furniture are “off limits,” like a bedroom or family sofa. New dog owners, for example, may wish to provide a dog bed or training crate to help the dog learn where it’s okay to rest. Your new pet will also need time to learn about your family’s routine and understand how essential needs like going for a walk or being fed will be part of the daily schedule.

If you’re adopting an older pet, keep in mind that this pet may be coming from a home where certain behaviors, like getting on the bed or sofa, were acceptable. If you’re not okay with these behaviors in your home, talk to your veterinarian or an animal trainer about the best way to establish and reinforce new boundaries.

3. Model appropriate behavior for young children.

If you have young children in your home, they may be very excited, anxious or even a bit nervous about the introduction of a new pet to the family. Before bringing your pet home, talk to your children about how they can gently and kindly welcome their new four-legged friend. If they are overly eager to play with a shy pet, remind them about the importance of giving the pet some personal space. If they are anxious or nervous, consider ways to help involve a young child in basic pet care routines, like feeding the pet.

4. Introduce your new pet to your current one.

If you already have one pet, there are additional considerations to keep in mind before bringing another pet into your home. Ideally, you’ll want to select a companion pet that has already spent time with other animals in the past. Age may also make a difference: A playful puppy, for example, might frustrate an older dog who is less active and prefers to rest. Your veterinarian or animal shelter can help guide you in the overall selection process.

Once it’s time to bring your new pet home, the American Humane Society recommends keeping your current pet in one space or room while the new pet has the freedom to roam and investigate the other’s scent. Alternate after several days and then make a leashed introduction. Once both animals are calm and relaxed around each other, you can remove the leashes and slowly proceed to unsupervised

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