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Preparing house for a new animal is a pet project
By Tim Torres
Copley News Service
Now that you're willing to bring a pet into your life, you need to make sure your home is ready as well.
If the pet is an older dog or cat, it needs time to acclimate to its new surroundings. Puppies or kittens seem to hit the ground running but again you need to make sure they get off on the right foot. A little thought now about how your home is set up can prevent pet behavior problems from ever developing.
First of all, think about how your pet is going to be introduced to small children in the home or other pets who already reside there, says Carol Osborne, an author and veterinarian who runs the pet advice Web site www.drcarol.com. Children can overwhelm a new pet, and older pets already in the household naturally become very jealous. The best thing to do is to regulate the interaction the newcomer has to everyone else. "It has to be done gradually. Maybe in 15-minute sessions, two to three times per day."
As for your once-beautiful abode, keeping your pets clean will help keep your house tidy, advises the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Keep your dog's nails trimmed, brush your pets outside as needed and keep a towel handy near the entry to wipe down your dog on rainy days.
If they are fed inside, one way to keep their eating area clean is to have an absorbent place mat under food and water bowls.
They are going to add wear-and-tear to your things, so machine-washable area rugs are preferable to wall-to-wall carpeting. And if there is an accident or two in house training, don't use ammonia to clean it up, because the ammonia will mark the place as a future litter area. Tile, sheet linoleum and other synthetic flooring are pet-friendly surfaces that allow you to easily wipe away any pet waste.
You can keep your walls presentable by using washable semigloss paint in areas where the animals play.
The ASPCA advises that you should avoid vertical blinds, pooling drapery, ornate tassels and long cords. These can be enticing to cats and puppies and should a pet get caught in them, it could die.
The American Humane Society recommends using childproof latches to keep pets out of cabinets and to keep the toilet lid closed to prevent drowning or drinking of harmful cleaning chemicals.
You should place dangling wires from lamps, DVD players, televisions, stereos and telephones out of reach.
Experts say you need to get down on the floor in your home, at their level, and see what looks enticing.
You also have to walk your yard to make sure it will be a safe play area for your pets and clean any antifreeze from your garage floor or driveway, as one taste can be lethal to animals.
Most important for dogs is to have a crate for them - a safe haven and a crucial training tool. A typical rookie mistake is to buy the wrong size. "Make sure it is the right size. Most are way too big," says Osborne. If it is too big, the puppy will eat on one end of the crate, and eliminate at the other. The correct size is one that will only let him stand up, turn around and lie down. You can buy wire crates with dividers so you can increase the space as he grows.
Cat litter boxes also have to be the right size, Osborne says, and never have more than two cats per box. You want to get it right, she says, "because cats are notorious for getting into planter boxes and flowers, even fireplaces, and using them as little boxes."
Cats are also known as finicky eaters. So start your kittens off right by feeding them different kinds of cat food. "That way they learn to enjoy a variety of flavors and won't get finicky."
Adopting a pet is a real commitment. You have to select a pet that matches your personality, lifestyle and home environment.
"It all comes down to common sense," Osborn says.
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