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December 27, 2013

Advice for your new furry holiday friend

DUNCAN — Whether it was thought out and carefully considered or a spur of the moment decision, many families are finding themselves new pet owners after Christmas.

Humane societies and animal shelters across the country are urging pet owners to take necessary steps to keep those dogs and cats safe in homes and not abandoned on the street or surrendered to overflowing shelters.

If your family has not done its homework, there are tips to making sure your newest addition becomes a life-long friend.

“Make sure they have plenty of time to get used to their new surroundings,” said Nicole Baldwin, Stephens County Humane Society director and manager. “Don’t overwhelm them too much.”

This is especially important with puppies and kittens who have most likely been plucked out of the only situation they’ve ever known. No longer having a mother and brothers and sisters to snuggle up to, your new companion will need plenty of special snuggle time from you.

“You may need to separate him from other pets at first,” Baldwin said. “As he adjusts, you can gradually begin to work on training, bonding and preparing for your life together.”

A smart step to take in the first couple of months with new pet is taking care of their health. A veterinary trip can provide illness prevention and any advice you may need for specific breed care or behaviors.

To avoid more overpopulation of unwanted animals, getting your pet neutered or spayed should be considered. This will also help damp down the need to roam in an animal.

“Don’t forget lots of exercise, playtime and walks will help release energy that you would rather not be used inside the house,” said Baldwin.

However, it is important to be consistent in where the play takes place. Should owners allow rough play inside during the excitement of the holidays, then change the rules as time goes by, this will be difficult for the animal to learn.

“Depending on your dog’s background, the concept of life in a house may be completely foreign,” Baldwin said. “Be patient and try to make your home a positive environment.”

A housetraining routine should be established from the beginning. Make sure you take them to a location outside where you’d like them to do their business. Consistency is also key in this training.

A new pet will not do everything you’d like him or her to do right at the get-go, so it is important to remember to keep your expectations at the correct level.

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