How to Bond With Your New Dog or Cat
While you’ve been working from home, you probably thought of an amazing idea: to get a new pup or kitty!
In the past few months, there’s been a rise in adoptions and fostering among pet parents during the quarantine. And it makes sense, pets are great for reducing stress and anxiety levels, offering companionship, and helping current pets if they experience loneliness.
If you are one of these lucky pet parents, you might be wondering how to bond with your newest family member. This is especially important if you have a rescued pup or kitten who didn’t have the safest home environment before transitioning to a shelter or adoption center.
There are a few ways to create a loving space to connect with your pet.
Create A Comfortable Environment
You want your home to feel like a safe space for your new addition. If you haven’t done so already, try to create a section of your home that serves as a mini sanctuary for your dog or cat. This could be where you put their bed, chews, and toys, in a common area like the living room or bedroom.
But, what about other pets?
If you have other pets in your home, give your new and “old” fur babies some time to sniff each other out. This may happen within the first few hours \ or could take a little longer, up to days depending on a variety of factors.
Consider the following:
- Introduce dogs to each other on a leash, with treats readily available
- Keep dogs and cats separate initially before introducing them
- Feed and offer treats at the same time, still creating some space until they’re comfortable
For cats it’s best to introduce them to one room in your house at a time, creating some distance between other pets, and allowing them to get accustomed to new spaces.
And for dogs, don’t just give your new pooch freedom to roam the house, be sure to establish rules and routines first, using treats and commands to reinforce behaviors.
For both pets, consistency is key. Maintain set schedules for playtime/walks, feeding time and treat time to help create stability for your pet.
Spending time with your new dog or cat is one of the most important things you can do to help them establish a bond with you.
If you have a puppy/kitten or a more active pet in general, fun activities together will help with boredom and allow you to establish trust.
Other benefits of spending time together:
- Helps your pet learn your personality
- Helps you learn your pets personality
- Helps your pet learn do’s and don’ts
- Helps your pet gain confidence with you
- Helps to develop socialization skills
- Reduces anxiety and stress levels for your pet
Set aside time every day just for playdates and walks –– plenty of exercise is always beneficial for your pooch or cat. Consider extending the time of your daily walks or including a couple of 10-minute training or play sessions in the day, depending on your schedule.
What about leaving for work?
As you are transitioning back into the office, there’s a chance your pet may experience separation anxiety, especially if they are new to your home. Check out our blog post on helping pets cope with separation anxiety, which includes tips from training experts.
Patience is Key
Every pet has its own personality; sometimes they can be very excited and rambunctious, or calm and to themselves. As you learn more about them, try to leave room for understanding their unique qualities.
You’re probably excited and ready to initiate fun sessions of indoor fetch with your pup or engage your kitten with some feather toys. But what happens if they aren’t as up for it as you are?
Avoid pushing them to play and in some instances, allow them to come to you.
Let your pet come to you at their own pace, leaving room for their own natural curiosity to kick in as they wander about (of course, in designated spaces if necessary). Always make sure they have a comfortable place to retreat back to when they are uncomfortable or scared.
The goal is to promote a safe space for your pet early on. And while this isn’t only true for pets who may experience fear or shyness based on their previous environment, new pets in general may need some time to get used to their surroundings.
Notice when to step back
If your pet is showing aggression towards you or other pets in the household, consider reaching out to a training specialist who can offer support.
Signs of aggression will vary from subtle to noticeable. It’s important to recognize these behaviors in your pet so you can quickly reduce the intensity and help them return to a calm, trusting state.
- Flat back ears or ears standing straight up
- Revealing bare teeth
- Lowered head, stretched forward
- Hair standing up in the neck area
- A tense and quiet gaze
- A stiff, straight tail
- Hair standing up
- A twitching or straight tail
- Hissing or spitting
- Flatted ears or ears rotated backward
- Crouched posture
If you notice these signs, let your pet calm down by disengaging whatever action or interaction that triggered the response. Allow them to calm down without engaging, removing yourself from the space entirely if needed.
Reinstate the bonding process by letting your dog or cat come to you when they are ready. Having treats available always helps and keep interactions short as they warm up to you.
In general, be mindful of your pets during times of bonding –– paying attention to their subtle behaviors during your time together will help you understand their personality, heed warning signs, and create a trusting environment for your relationship to build.