- My New
Learning to be alone
Introducing a second cat to your home
If you can give your puppy the right things to chew and teach him or her good habits from an early age, there is no reason for your puppy to chew on your possessions.
Puppies chew for two main reasons:
- To relieve the pain and discomfort of teething, which usually occurs between three to six months of age.
- To explore their surroundings, much like a toddler will explore using his or her hands.
Rather than letting your puppy teach itself to chew household items, it’s important to establish good habits and house rules from the moment he or she comes home.
Buy your puppy a variety of different toys to chew on. They should be firm but strong, yielding to young teeth yet providing some resistance to strengthen the jaw. Hide chews, sterilised marrowbones, KONG toys or other teething toys for your dog to find.
When to bring out the toys: Your puppy will be ready to chew when he or she is rested and looking for a way to keep occupied. Some like to chew after a big meal, so always have a chew ready at this time and encourage your puppy to play with it. If you catch your puppy in the act of chewing a household item, distract the puppy and then lead him or her away from the object to a more appropriate chew toy.
‘Chew-tainment’: Filling a chew toy with treats and chilling in the fridge or freezer before giving to your puppy will help provide a cool, soothing toy for a teething puppy, and the treats will make for an interesting and rewarding toy if you need to leave your puppy alone for a while.
Keep your puppy busy with plenty of play sessions, games and training – this way your pooch will have limited energy left and will hopefully just rest instead of chewing on your household items. Your puppy should grow out of the teething phase after one year, so continue to rotate and replace his or her chew toys up until then.
Learning to be alone
Here are a few handy tips for owners wanting to keep their pets happy and safe while they go to work.
Get into a routine early: A routine is really important for newly adopted pets right from the start. They have been through a period of extreme change and instability, so setting a new routine as soon as possible gives them confidence and helps them settle in quickly.
Walk before work: Taking your dog for a walk before you go to work is the best way to start the day. It will not only physically tire out your dog, reducing destructive behaviour caused by boredom, but it will also stimulate his or her mind and give you both some quality bonding time.
‘Scent’ of familiarity: Leaving a piece of clothing behind with your scent can give your pet a sense of familiarity and safety. You can also leave the radio or television on so your pet feels like someone is at home.
Backyard blitz: Check that your backyard, fencing and gates are escape-proof. Also give your property a once-over to ensure there are no hazardous objects or garden products lying around that your pet could have access to while home alone. Check if bedding, kennels, toys, drinking and food bowls are clean or in need of replacing.
Transition for success: It’s ideal to gradually get your pet accustomed to not having you around at home. Before you go back to work, try taking an extra half hour for shopping or seeing friends or family. Gradually increase this to an hour, and so on. You may also use this technique if you decide to go away on a holiday.
Backyard boredom: You can combat backyard boredom by rotating your dog’s toys each day. Have three groups of toys (8-10 toys per group) and rotate them every morning on a three-day cycle. This will prevent your dog from getting bored of playing with the same old toys.
Make feeding time last longer by stuffing a KONG with your dog’s favourite treats and seal in with a generous spread of peanut butter. Freeze and then give to your dog before you leave.
For cats, a scratching post is a must and some have incorporated toys to keep them entertained. Be creative – empty cardboard boxes and scrunched up paper are fun and free toys!
It’s OK: Owners can get emotional and anxious about leaving their pets behind for the first time. If you have taken all the precautions, your pet will be OK. If you have implemented ways to tackle boredom, you may find your pet will have just as much fun when home alone. It is also important that your pets become independent and don’t rely on you to be constantly entertained.
Identify, update, reunite: This is crucial in giving you the best chance of being reunited with your pet if he or she goes missing. Identify your pet with a microchip and a collar ID tag, and always keep your details up-to-date.
The Home is here to help: The Lost Dogs’ Home has a range of services and offers information to support you with your adoption. At the time of adoption, our nurses talk to you about what to do when you get home. Our adoption handbook and website offer plenty of useful advice you can refer to.
We offer free veterinary consultations through our vet clinic, which is not limited to medical problems, as we are always happy to discuss issues relating to settling in, toilet training and anxiety in the early stages. Finally, cats and dogs adopted from our North Melbourne shelter receive a complementary post adoption training session.
One of the most important lessons you will teach your new pooch is how to go to the toilet in in the appropriate place – most likely outside.
Take your dog to the appropriate toileting area at the following times:
- After every meal or drink of water.
- After prolonged chewing on a toy.
- Immediately after waking up, even if it was only a short nap.
- If you notice him or her sniffing out spots in the house.
- After play.
Calmly reward your pooch with a treat or praise for going to the toilet in the appropriate place. As he or she is going to the toilet, give a specific command, such as ‘toilet’ or ‘be clean’. This will help associate the action with a command, which you can then use to get your dog to do his or her business.
Never get angry or scold your dog if you catch him or her going to the toilet in the house, as this will only cause fear. Instead, distract the dog and take him or her outside to complete it. If a mess has already been made in the house, quietly and calmly take your dog to another area of the house and clean up the mess.
There are commercially available products that help remove odours from the area and prevent your pooch from returning to the same place to toilet again. Do not use ammonia based cleaning products, as this will encourage your dog to use the area.
Introducing a second cat to your home
Though some cats prefer independent living, many felines quite happily coexist with other cats.
Where possible, it is advised you introduce two cats to a household at the same time. However, if this isn’t possible and you have your heart set on a second cat, it’s worth contacting our shelter team or visiting us to speak with one of our cat attendants, who will happily talk through your situation and offer personalised advice on finding that second, perfect feline match for your family.
In the meantime, there are a few things to consider.
Territorial matters: Cats are territorial; they like their own space and will defend their territory against intruders. While some cats will get along famously, this isn’t the case for all cats.
In time, many cats will actually work out living arrangements without any major dramas. Multiple cats will often divide the house into “mine”, “yours” and “ours” and any trespass may be met with a hiss or swipe.
Be careful to respect the boundaries that have been established, and accept any small altercations as being a natural behaviour of the cats.
The most important thing in a multiple-cat household is to ensure that each cat has its own ‘resources’, meaning:
- A single litter box per cat, plus sometimes an extra one.
- A food and water bowl for each cat.
- Individual beds and scratching posts.
Meet and greet
When introducing a cat into the house, it’s best to keep the cat confined to an adjoining room to your existing cat, allowing them to smell and hear each other for the first few days. Swap their bedding each day to help them get used to each other’s scent.
After a few days, introduce them to each other under supervision in an area where they can get away from each other if they choose.
Give your cats plenty encouragement and pats when they are tolerating each other’s company and try to avoid disciplining them if they fight. Then, calmly separate them into their own spaces. Keep in mind that tense owners will make for tense cats.