By Jenny Anderson
Those of us who have experience with animals know there are some who need a bit of extra attention when adopted from a humane society or rescue. It’s best to allow time together with the new companion animal for several reasons. The animal introduced to a new home needs time to bond with us as caregivers. We also want to observe and get to know the personality of the new addition. I may take some time before we truly know what to expect, and it may take awhile for the pet to settle in to the new environment and routines. Sometimes there are also some bad habits which need to be resolved.
These animals may have never been socialized with other animals or may have lived in the animal shelter environment for some time. While most are immediately ready to settle into your home, some need just a bit of additional tender loving care. This not only helps teach them socialization skills, it also helps these animals trust people. Although some, especially cats, are more aloof, most eventually enjoy being near their people.
A few animals are stressed as a result of being kenneled for long periods; some have fear issues due to previous unpleasant experiences. Others may have had negative interactions with other animals, children, or adults. I have observed a pet does not easily forget these past experiences, so sometimes we need to work with the cat or dog to help it overcome fears. We should try to get some history or background on a pet when adopting to better anticipate any potential issues.
An example would be when a pet tends to play too roughly. These pets need lots of interaction with appropriate toys and reminders of what gentle means. A cat may enjoy play with a feather wand. A dog might fetch a plush ball. In either case, play should stop immediately if the interaction becomes too rough. “Too rough” may involve jumping up, use of teeth or claws, or over exuberant roughhousing.
In many situations a pet, especially those newly adopted, may suffer from separation anxiety. Be sure the issue is not due to some other cause, such as incomplete potty training. In our household we always plan a walk prior to leaving the dog inside alone for a few hours. She also gets a special chew bone with a bit of peanut butter stuffed inside—this relaxes her and makes our leaving a positive, rather than negative event. We keep the goodbyes to a minimum, and the pets know, “I’ll be back”, means just that.
When a new animal comes into the home, it’s essential to plan for together time before leaving the pet alone. Never transfer a new animal to isolation in the garage or back yard without spending some time together first. Too often shelter animals have been surrendered more than once, making them very unsettled and fearful. It does take time to build trust, but it is so worth it. If the new addition will be joining other pets in the home, introduce them gradually and carefully, always supervising time together. The existing companion animals may need to make some adjustments, too.
Each animal will have the same basic needs for food, shelter, attention and more. In the process of providing for these needs, a deep bond will eventually develop. In most cases it will require patience, but your new companion animal will reward you with amazing loyalty.
The Western Arizona Humane Society is open Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., with kennel hours 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Call 855-5083 for details. For found or lost pets, call 855-4111. View animals found at www.lhcpd.com.