If you are considering adopting a cat or a dog, you may be concerned about the bonding process between owner and pet. Since much of your pet’s behavior and her dynamic with you is going to depend on the bonds you form together, it is crucial to set the right stage early on in your relationship. There are slight differences between how dogs and cats acclimate to their surroundings and owners, but many of the basic principles are universal.
Before you adopt
The bonding process is facilitated by responsible, informed ownership. Know what you are getting yourself into and prepare your home and life for your new obligations. Do some self-assessments about your reason for adopting the pet. Is this the right time? Do you have a vacation scheduled within the next six months? Sometimes the decision to adopt a pet is done at the spur of the moment, when a child might see a cute puppy or cat at the adoption drive at the local pet supply store. If your children are asking for a pet, make sure that they understand the obligations of ownership. Some adoption clinics require children to sign a care contract, and while it is unenforceable, it is not meaningless. If children understand that kittens turn into cats with litter boxes and furballs, and that the first few months of training a puppy will require cleaning up messes and chewed sneakers, then they would be less likely to dive into the responsibility.
When considering whether you and your family are up to the task of caring for an animal, make sure your residence works for a pet. Is there a fenced-in yard for your dog? If not, you could consider installing an electric fence. According to HomeAdvisor, it costs an average of $1,169 nationally to add an electric fence. Do you have an area for keeping the cat’s litter box? This is also the time for you to pet-proof your home and prepare yourself for pet ownership. Dogs and cats can get into anything, especially when they are young and in a new environment. Make sure access to anything dangerous is restricted. Certain foods and plants are poisonous, such as chocolate for dogs and poinsettias for cats, and onions are equally poisonous for dogs and cats.
Also keep in mind the supplies you’ll have to purchase and the arrangements you will have to make for your new pet. Pet food, pet beds, collars, toys, treats, veterinary care, licensing, and obedience training are expenses that add up quickly.
After you adopt, bond
If you did your self-assessment and decided to take the plunge into pet ownership, now is the time to begin your bonding experience with your pet. Bonding is important as it develops trust and hierarchy. A cat doesn’t care so much about who is in charge; they really just want to know who is going to feed them. But a dog needs to have an alpha. If you do not assert your leadership with a dog during the bonding period, you risk owning a dog who thinks he is the alpha. This results in a dog that is near-impossible to train.
Your cat’s bonding is going to be more about her comfort level with her surroundings. During the first 30 days, give her space. Make sure she has a clean litter box, a feeding area, and places to hide.
The benefits of bonding with a companion animal aren’t limited to the welfare of the pet. Bonding is a positive experience for owners, too. Pet ownership has been shown to reduce stress and depression, and even plays a role in reducing physical pain and discomfort. These benefits also help people who are going through addiction recovery, who often have underlying pain management concerns that precipitated their addictions.
Both cats and dogs are wonderful additions to any family. They require work, but the efforts are rewarding in the love and companionship your family will enjoy.
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