Moving to a new home can be stressful for pet parents, so imagine how a new member of the family feels setting their paws down in new digs. So many new sights and smells can be overwhelming, not to mention the gentle giants who keep trying to give loving squeezes.
If your new pet is a quivering mess and dealing with pet stress, you’ll want to build trust gradually with techniques unique to the type of pet you’ve brought home. And remember that pets from a shelter need time to adjust and let their true personality shine through.
Dogs: Lead by Example
Building trust in a fearful puppy or dog requires a firm yet reassuring voice. Don’t coddle the animal the way you might a scared human. Dogs learn from rewards, and if you reward your dog for cowering and being fearful, he’ll think these are desired behaviors.
Show leadership. Don’t show fear in your environment (this includes jumping at the sight of bugs). Dogs have an extraordinary ability to sense when someone is scared or unsure. If your new pup doesn’t see you as a leader, he feels the burden of having to take on that role and that could lead to a lot of unwanted behaviors. Not to mention you’ll have one exhausted dog because keeping you safe can be a big responsibility. Establish yourself as the leader of your new dog’s pack—but always in a calm and non-threatening way. A professional trainer can help you learn what’s required of you in this new role.
The right dog supplies can help ease your pup into his new home. A comfy dog bed in his very own dog crate along with proper crate training can help discourage any destructive tendencies and ease separation anxiety. Check manufacturer guidelines to find the right size crate for your dog.
Cats: Let Kitties Acclimate at Their Own Pace
A scaredy-cat requires some space. Let your new kitty explore at her leisure. Open her carrier in her new home and back away. If you go about your business, your new kitty will eventually emerge to get the lay of the land.
In households with other pets, you’ll need to keep the new cat in a quiet room with her own litter box, food and water. The other animals can first get acquainted by smelling her under the door, and vice versa. After a few days, they can meet face to face. You might give everyone treats or engage them with toys to ease the tension and create an enjoyable experience for all.
To really make your house a home for your cat, create safe spots for it. Cat trees are great places for cats to climb and escape to. Cat beds can also be extremely helpful in making a pet feel safe; try one that gives your kitty a place to hide, like a bed cave or a covered pet bed. Nothing says “home” for a timid new pet like her own snuggly spot!
Be sure to reward your new kitty with a cat treat when she makes progress—poking her head out from a hiding spot or walking into the room that you’re in.