We’ve all had that dream – a new puppy or kitten or turtle for the holidays. But when it comes right down to it, is that really the best way to bring a new companion into your home? It’s already traumatic enough for an animal to leave the comfort of his home or shelter and be brought into a new space – but couple that with wrapping paper, unfamiliar family routines, lots of people milling about and a lack of general routine and you’ve got a recipe for a difficult beginning to a new life together.
If you still feel that your lifestyle or situation means that the holidays are the right time to bring a new animal into your home, here are a few tips to make the transition easier.
Preparing Your Home for Your New Companion
1. Let everyone know! Yes, it’s really fun to “surprise” the kids-but the excitement and screaming that often happens can be upsetting to the animal.
2. Have food on hand already. Preparation is key! Find out what the shelter or breeder was feeding him/her several days before you bring home your new friend and have that on hand. A change in food (even for a day!) can result in messy GI problems (and no one wants that!)
3. Buy books. If you’re bringing home a puppy-I recommend “The Art of Raising a Puppy” by the Monks of New Skete. If you’re bringing home a kitten-there are SO many wonderful references out that! I can’t narrow it down to even one. If you’re adopting a rescued animal, then your “homework” is even more important. Older animals will have their quirks-and it will take you a bit to get to know them, just like it will take him/her a bit to get to know yours. And YES you do have your own quirks.
4. For dogs: are you crate training? Decide this BEFORE the big day and buy the appropriate items. Be sure to have a sales person help you figure out the right size crate. Dogs grow you know!
5. For cats and kittens-decide if you have an indoor or outdoor cat before hand and prepare accordingly.
6. For turtles: they need special care. A google search will yield pages of information on what to have for the aquarium-and just like all other beings out there-they grow too. So get ready!
7. If you get stuck and are feeling confused or worried about how to handle the new addition to your home, get help. Talk to a qualified trainer, animal communicator (me!) or other person who has professional knowledge in how to help with the integration of a new companion.
Have a wonderful holiday season! And if you decide to go this route-remember, you are making a long-term commitment to care for and love this beautiful being who has decided to come into your life!