Thinking of being a pet parent? Be prepared!

Publication: Bangalore Mirror; Date: Mar 11, 2014; Section: City; Page:4

When adding a new dog to your family, a big part of the plan has to be to give space and time to the dog. While some dogs may take it all in their stride, others might take time. If your new dog is stressed, it will show through a host of symptoms— indigestion, lack of appetite and/or enthusiasm. Don’t be surprised if your new dog is having trouble trusting you. When Tigger, our second dog, entered our lives, she refused to enter the house for two days, not even to sleep at night. Today she cuddles on my lap. All they need of you is understanding and patience.

Your plan for the first few days may vary based on the age of the dog and his little quirks. A puppy may need to be fed four times a day. A dog or pup with no toilet training may need 24×7 supervision for a week or so. The dog may need to be taught to be home alone, starting with a few minutes at a time. Accordingly you will need to plan to have someone at home at all times. In our case, we saved our annual leave, so we could take turns to be with our new dog.

Apart from all the time planning, there is the budget planning. Visit a good pet store to get an idea of how

much different pet products cost. Factor in pet food, toys, treats, shampoos, conditioners, towels and other grooming products. Buy few products like age-appropriate foods, few toys of different textures and sizes, a good absorbent towel, a couple of chews and treats, at least two non-slip bowls for water and food, and a good coat-friendly brush. Don’t forget to pick up poop bags. Responsible pet-parents clean up after their pets.

Find a vet closest to your home (you might have to meet a couple of vets to find one that you are comfortable with), and while you are at it, also find out the consultation cost. Talk to the vet about the dog you are getting and ask about the kind of care he/she will need. Put your vet’s number on speed dial. You might want a behaviourist, family coach, trainer, dog walker and/or a groomer too. Factor all that into your budget as well.

Back home, plan your boundaries. Keep them simple and clear. Where can the dog go. What’s not OK? Where does the dog sleep, eat, poop, pee etc. Is sofa, bed, kitchen off limits or not…. These are all questions to which there are no right or wrong answers. It depends on your household. But it’s important that there is consensus and consistency.

When we got our first dog Nishi home, it was turbulent to say the least. We had given up our vacation, worked odd hours, killed our social lives, had constant fights about rules and so on.But the love she brought into my life is indescribable. That’s why I call it pet parenting and not pet ownership.

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