Thursday, August 30, 2012

On New Family Members and Equal Attention

Adding a new member to your family can cause a lot of turmoil to those lest intended, your existing family members. Unlike children, who for the most part we can explain a new arrival to, pets can easily feel replaced or unloved. I covered this a little in our guide on Introducing a New Pet Member. Having just brought a new puppy, Nora, into our family I am constantly reminding myself that, while a puppy does require more care and maintenance than an adult animal, it's easy for existing family members to feel replaced or left out. The new pet has no expectations for attention, or even belonging and territory; it will not feel left out, or replaced, or even intruded upon- but your other pets just may.

Of course, it's hard to be discerning when it comes to Mom's (my) attention, and affection; but I try to ensure I give everyone a fair amount of time each day. Sure, the puppy is just plain adorable, but Truffles and I have been through thick and thin, and Frankie is a part of this family too. Neglecting them for Nora would be like tossing aside an old 'toy'- only pets aren't toys, they're family members! The last thing I want while house training a new puppy is to have either of our cats become ill or distant due to animosity or depression. Introducing Nora has gone much smoother since the lessons I learned the firs time around, with Frankie. I've made sure each family member has a designated 'safe' and personal place to retreat to. The dog has the least 'ground' to roam (which also makes sense on the front of house training), and nobody shares food or treats. In fact, when it is play time, or food time, for one, they have my undivided attention.

Another great tool are long term toys- consider these chewies and even bones, for dogs. Believe it or not, Kong has a complete line of long term toys for cats. Toys designed to keep your animal engaged for hours (and longer if they are treat motivated). Recently I bought a Kitty Kong, which turned out to be one of their 'old' models, made from a thin plastic much different than the rubber base we often associate with the brand. I was happy to see Truffles take to it, but she had it broken and cracked after one afternoon! Of course I promptly waltzed back into our local pet store and exchanged the broken one for a kitty Kong that was made of similar 'classic' Kong rubber. This came with a salmon flavored paste Truffles instantly went crazy for. Needless to say, this has helped her feel spoiled, and kept her busy many afternoons when I am grooming or training the puppy!

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