You may have thought there are 4 seasons. And you are right, yet, when you work with animals you find out there are 4 seasons plus puppy/kitten season and flea season. We will talk about flea season on another day, so remember to come back for more. Today we are going to focus on puppy/kitten season, more specifically helping to bring confidence to your new fur baby.
Puppy/kitten season is from February to June when the majority of puppy and kitten births occur. We can go into to whys of it but to save you from information overload here is the simple reason. Dogs and cats go into heat twice a year, so that means they breed only twice yearly. Typically, larger litters are born when food is more easily obtained (spring). Litters can be born late summer/fall but the litters are typically smaller. Puppies and kittens can leave their mom as soon as 8 weeks, better if they stay to 10 or 12 weeks for the head start in socialization.
Let’s move on to the fun stuff. You have decided to bring a new puppy or kitten home. It is so exciting, people bringing in a new family member to love. Sometimes the puppy is there just to make us laugh or motivate us to go on our daily walk. And sometimes, they become our most cherished confidant. Cats just have a way of looking at us and reassuring us they know exactly what we are telling them. Sometimes that kitten grows to be a cat and they teach us naps take care of every stressful thing in life and quit making such a big deal of it all.
I got ahead of myself, no matter why you are bringing a puppy or kitten home, and whether this is your first fur baby or not. There is a lot to consider, this is a lifetime commitment! You will be responsible for this little soul. That means exercise, play, feeding, water, grooming, medical care 24/7. Just because you are going on a trip your fur baby needs all of those things while you are gone. Medical care is not cheap. Yes, there is insurance and it is not cheap either.
Puppies and kittens grow up, as pet parents it is our job to help them with social skills and to support them in developing their true confidence. This is what I was reminded of last week when I spoke to a group of talented groomers.
The owner of the boutique had asked me to come in and talk about animal communication. I jumped at the chance to speak with people who care so much about animals they have chosen a career of working with other people’s pets. If the pet parent brings their dog or cat in for a bath monthly, it is an incredible commitment. And yet sometimes the groomer will only see a dog once a year or when the dog has been skunked or is matted beyond the owner’s ability to “fix” it. The team reminded me that some dogs come in fearful, and they wanted to know how to ease the pets worries.
We talked about several techniques they could use to assist them in being able to touch the dog and communicate their safe intentions with the dog or cat. And the idea that so many dogs and cats they work with have fears is what drove me to write on today. Because it is not their responsibility to socialize nor train your cat or dog. As a pet parent it is your responsibility.
There are really simple things you can do to help your cat or dog be calm in unfamiliar surroundings. Take them places while they are young. Introduce them to a carrier, kennel, seat belt, car etc. often while they are young. You realistically only have weeks to expose them and help them be good explorers. Yes, it does take time, effort, love, consistency; but it is so worthwhile for them and for you. Leave the kennel out, put it next to your bed, put some toys or treats in it (yes, cats too). Put your cat in their carrier, and put them in the car for a trip around the block. If you are going to pick up something and you are doing it contactless pick up. Take them in the car with you. Use any and every reason you can find to take them in the car with you for the first 8 months with you.
Think outside of only taking them in the car to the doctor when they don’t feel well. Take them to the doctor just to say hello. Walk in, ask the receptionist to weigh them and leave. Often, the clinic or hospital is thrilled to see them and will make sure they get to say hello, collect pets and snuggles from a number of staff and then take them home.
Do the same at a groomer. I advise my clients to walk in with their dog to a groomer you are considering. Now, be considerate do not go first thing in the morning when they are taking in all of their clients for the day. And do not go at late afternoon when the pet parents are coming in to pick up their fresh cut clean fur babies. Go in the late morning early afternoon. This gives you a chance to see how the groomer is working. Say hello, tell them immediately you are only there to introduce yourself and your pet.
Think about it. A grooming or veterinary facility has lots of noise, smells and new people all around and moving quickly. Some sounds are sharp or loud or simply unfamiliar. But if you are exposing your pet in a fun way when they are young and happy to explore life you are helping them develop their confidence with new smells, sounds, places, and people. A huge WIN for them and you.
I understand this is a lot of extra on you, but when you put out the efforts early (remember it is only days and weeks for you to do this). Those weeks can be fun. Both of you are getting to know each other and you are developing your own language. The more exposure the calmer your dog/cat can be at home and in a strange place.
If you are interested in any of my animal communication sessions visit my website. I love meeting the new puppies and kittens and providing you both with bridge of communication.