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New Pet for the New Year

During the first few days and weeks in your home, your new pet may be confused and unsure what to expect or how to react.  A little patience on your part can help your new best friend adapt to its surroundings and become a true member of the family!


For many people this is the time to look back at the year that is coming to an end, and also to look ahead to the New Year that’s coming. Your new beginning might include a new Christmas pet – or one you’re adding to the family for the new year.

As the holidays come to an end and schedules get back to normal, it’s a good time to consider how your new four-footed companion will fit in to your daily life. After all, many dogs and cats live to be ten to fifteen years old or more, so your life will probably include your new friend for quite a while. Even so, the first few weeks are still very important.

If your new pet is a very young puppy or kitten, this can be a scary time. It may be the first time away from its mother and litter mates. Even for an older puppy or kitten, or an adult animal, suddenly finding itself in strange surroundings with unfamiliar people can be intimidating. Kind words and gentle petting can help to reassure a new pet that it is in a safe place.

You can do a few other things to help your pet acclimate to its new family. Begin by giving it a warm, dry, comfortable place to sleep. That will reinforce a sense of security and belonging.

Establish a schedulefor your new friend. Feed it at set times, and make sure fresh water is always available. Don’t forget to include time in the schedule for exercise and play. 

Getting to know a new pet can be a lot of fun, but it’s a process. It has been said that it takes an animal three days to decompress after a transition to a new environment. Then it takes three weeks to begin to know your routine. And it takes up to three months for an animal to start to feel at home with you. So if it’s not quite the pet you hoped it would be, don’t give up - give it the time, give it a chance.

If you’re still looking for a new furry companion, visit your local animal shelter. You may find that perfect friend to help you celebrate this New Year - and many more to come - when you’re speaking of pets.


Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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