It’s Adopt A Dog Month! If a new fur-kid is in your future, remember that more goes into adopting a dog than picking the “prettiest” or just plopping food in a bowl. I’ve written about shelter adoptions and where to.get a dog before, but here are more specific tips. Don’t overlook other-abled doggy candidates, either. Follow these do’s and don’ts to ensure your furry love connection lasts past the honeymoon and endures for the lifetime of that pet.
10 DO’s & DON’Ts for Adopting a Dog (or Cat)
If you wonder where to.get a dog, you can’t go wrong with shelter adoptions. You can also learn where to.get a dog by asking family and friends. And if you prefer a pedigreed dog, ask reputable breeders about where to.get a dog that’s the best fit for you.
- Don’t adopt too early. Kittens and puppies adopted too young bite and claw more than those corrected by Mom and siblings. Wait to adopt furry until they are at least 8-10 weeks old for pups and 12 to 16 weeks for kittens.
- Do see a vet ASAP. Puppies and kittens get sick easily because of an immature immune system. A vet’s early preventive care — vaccinations, flea prevention, worm medications — saves lives and ensures your pet grows to healthy adulthood.
- Don’t rush introductions. Even healthy-looking kittens and puppies could be contagious to your existing pets. Resident pets accept new ones more quickly when only part of the house has been “invaded” so confine the newbie with toys, litter box, bed and bowls. Let other pets meet with sniffs and paw pats under the door.
- Do get pets fixed. Spaying and neutering prevents unplanned pregnancy, and sex-related behaviors like urine marking and roaming. Ask your veterinarian for the best age. Many shelters recommend fixing pets as early as 4 months of age, before they can “get in trouble.”
- Don’t let pets outside without supervision. Puppies easily squeeze through fences, kittens climb trees, and both look like lunch to wildlife. Be sure pets are microchipped or tagged “just in case” so they’ll be returned. And create safe outdoor enclosures like fences.
- Do pet-proof the house. Kittens and puppies paw, lick and bite to explore their world. Be sure electrical cords, poisonous plants, dangerous toys and other potential hazards are out of reach.
- Don’t feed milk. Most puppies and kittens eat solid food by four weeks old, so use canned or soften kibble with warm water. Cow’s milk can cause diarrhea. Only offer healthy treats.
- Do train—immediately! Babies learn fast, so don’t waste a moment. Start by handling her ears, paws and mouth so she learns it’s not scary from you or the veterinarian. Make crates or carriers fun playpens by tossing toys inside or turn them into napping spots so she’ll accept being in the carrier for visits to the vet or grandma’s.
- Don’t “punish.” Catch pets in the act of doing something RIGHT and reward with attention, praise, toys or games, so your new pet always associates you with good things.
- Do let the pup or kitten pick YOU! Take your time, sit quietly on floor and perhaps offer a toy or call the baby to gage personality. Don’t force interaction—let the baby come to you.
What have I missed? Please share your DO’s and DON’Ts in the comments, below. And you can learn more must-knows in the books Complete Puppy Care and Complete Kitten Care.
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!
Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!