Life changes can be very stressful. Anytime we experience anything new or different in our lives, be it good or bad, it can send our anxiety level sky high. The same goes for our four-legged family members. Any change in their daily routine can be challenging, one change being adopting a new pet and bringing it into your home for the first time. Some animals adapt right away, and others may take time, patience, and understanding. Think how you would feel in the same situation. Meeting new people in new places is always stressful.
Slow introductions to new people is always best. Cats especially do best in a “safe room.” Keep your cat in one room designated especially for it for a while. A porch, bedroom or even a bathroom works well. Visit the cat often and spend some play-time with it. When you notice it rolling on the floor and greeting you freely, you can expand its space. Eventually, the open space of your whole house won’t be so overwhelming.
You will also soon know the personality of your new pet, and you should respect that uniqueness. If you have a reserved pet, you would probably do best if you close it off in a quiet room when you have company or any new visitors.
I place my two cats in my bedroom whenever we have a lot of visitors or workmen in my house. My number one fear is someone will leave a door open and they will get outside. My two cats each have different personalities. One is shy when new people are around and the other is super friendly and wants all the attention and follows everyone. He is the one I worry about if I’m not able to keep a close eye on him. He follows workmen and “talks” to them. We say he is the inspector and makes sure they are doing the job properly. He is also the one that has been closed in closets and cabinets. My other cat will always let us know when her brother is locked in somewhere by crying and staring at the door or closet he is in.
If you have a dog, it is best if you remove it when workmen are in your home. I know a lot of service people won’t enter a house with a loose dog inside. It is in their contracts that dogs must be put in an area away from the work space. Yes, we love our dogs, and yes, they are harmless, but not all people are animal lovers. I am sure more than once they have encountered not-so-nice dogs, and that has left an impression.
Of course, size has a lot to do with it also. The larger the dog, the more intimidating. My son has a large French mastiff and put her out on his deck when he was getting a delivery one day. The delivery person took one look at her and said, “That’s the largest pit bull I’ve ever seen.” He was petrified! Little did he know the worst she would have done was slobber all over him.
Moving is also another stress factor. The same suggestions apply as when you bring animals home for the first time. They are creatures of habit, and those everyday routines are security for them. Any disruption of those routines can be very unsettling.
A little patience goes a long way. Your pet is a family member, and just like other members of your family you have to make some concessions. It’s a small price to pay for all the love and loyalty they give us.
When I have moved, I have left my animals in a room at the old house and then brought them over at the last moment to the new house. I tried to have as much as possible put in place and ready for them to investigate. I’ve been lucky, as they have always adjusted quickly. As long as my husband and I are there with them, they seem to be happy anywhere.
Bringing home a new baby is a big stressor. Suddenly the attention that was on them is now on this strange new bundle. Prepare your pet for the new addition by bringing home a blanket of the baby’s from the hospital before the baby comes home and let your pet get used to the scent. Install gates in the baby’s room or designated areas and do not allow your pet in that space. By doing this your new baby is already elevated in the “pack.”
Never leave the new baby alone with your pet. Unintentional accidents can happen. Always remember that they are “animals.” You are in control, and your pet has to know that. You will have a happier and better behaved pet when it knows you are the leader and it doesn’t have the stress of being in charge.
There will always be stress in our lives and unexpected circumstances. That does not mean things have to go awry. There isn’t much that can’t be remedied. If you find yourself in a difficult situation with your pet, give Animal Welfare a call. We are always here to help. Our goal is to keep pets in their homes and out of our shelter. Together we can make a difference.