During this time of shelter-in-place, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of pets adopted or fostered. This makes perfect sense since people are required to spend more time at home, plus want to find ways to give back to their community by opening their homes to new fur family family members.
This struck a chord with none other than our CEO, Andrew Kim. Knowing that there are a lot more new pet parents in the world, we wanted to share his story and expertise about what has helped him and his family get their new puppy, Parker, acclimated to his furever home. Enjoy!
As shared by Andrew:
After losing our pup, Boo, last year, my family felt a noticeable emptiness in our hearts and in our home. A house doesn’t feel like a home without a pup in it and that’s become even more obvious with shelter-in-place. In mid-March, my family and I had a discussion on whether or not we were ready to adopt a new member of the family and all agreed it was the right time to do so.
I have two young boys at home and it was important that our pup would be the right temperament and personality fit to compliment their energy levels and love for play. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, many rescue groups and shelters weren’t able to show in public places; however we discovered a number of pets were still available for adoption throughout the rescue network solely available online. After making an appointment with a local rescue group, we took my oldest son, who’s 3, to meet the dogs for adoption and get to know their personalities. One puppy was by far the most relaxed and we knew almost immediately he would be coming home with us.
Welcome Parker to the pack! Parker was part of a litter of seven 12-week old German Shepherd mix puppies dropped off at the Tulare County Shelter and pulled by this rescue group. We don’t have any other history about his former life, but we know he loves attention, chewing on laptop cords and has endless amounts of energy! Parker has already brought so much love and joy to our house and I’ve been grateful to have the extra time to spend with him, but adjusting a new pet to your life when you’re not able to visit dog parks or interact with other people has its challenges.
While we have had the honor of being pet parents for many years, it had been a while since we were fortunate enough to acclimate a new family member. Along this journey, we have rounded up some tips during this time of shelter-in-place that we hope will help other new pet parents set up their recently adopted or fostered pets for success!
#1 - Establish a routine
You’ve heard how helpful it is for you to establish your own healthy routine during shelter-in-place, and it’s no different for your pet! I’m taking advantage of not having a commute to work by getting Parker and I in the habit of walking or running in the morning before I start my day. We take another long walk in the evening with the family which both the kids and Parker love. Throughout the day I’ll take him on some length of a walk, not just to pee, which helps both of us stretch our legs a bit after being inside most of the day. Also with extra time at home, we are able to invest in Parker’s training, provide structure and of course, bond together! Our goal is to build a schedule for Parker that will help him understand when it's his time for exercise and play, and as a result, preventing destructive behavior and accidents.
#2 - Set boundaries
We’ve set physical boundaries for Parker, one being that he’s only allowed in the certain areas of our home. As boundaries are introduced, it creates structure and we reward him for respecting those boundaries. Crate training is also extremely helpful if you have a younger pup. Parker has a crate at the office and at home, and we also block off certain areas with baby gates so he understands where he is permitted to go and where he is not. These types of boundaries make it easier to potty train him as well, since many of the areas he’s allowed in have hard surfaces that are easy to clean.
Eventually once Parker has learned his boundaries, we will start loosening them up and allowing him in more areas in the house to explore. It will create a much happier relationship with your pup when you have stricter boundaries in the beginning than giving your pup too many opportunities up front to potentially create trouble in your house.
#3 - Create “house rules”… and stick to them!
With two young boys and now a puppy in the house, we made a rule that it’s either playtime for the kids or playtime for Parker. This allows us to keep track of which toy is in which mouth. We use playtime as a training opportunity, if the kids are playing with their toys, Parker can’t take them and vice versa. Right now, Parker’s favorite toy is his Fluff & Tuff Tico Sloth Plush Toy.
It’s hard for our family not to bend the rules with Parker because he’s so cute! But I know that by sticking to them it will make us all happier in the long run. I use positive reinforcement training techniques and will grab a few treats before playtime so that he’s rewarded for playing by the rules, making it fun for both of us! His favorite treats right now that help motivate good behavior are MIND BODY BOWL Chompies and It’s All Gouda Cheese Treats.
#4 - Keep your pet’s mind, body and bowl healthy
At Healthy Spot, we like to take a mind, body and bowl approach to pet health and I’m doing the same with Parker. That means keeping his mind stimulated, his body active and well-groomed, and feeding him healthy food.
To keep your pup’s mind active at home, I recommend toys that you can hide treats inside, like the Ruffwear Gwat-A-Cone Rubber Dog Toy. It creates a fun game for them to try to get the treat out and occupies their time! Another toy that’s been great for Parker to play with during my video calls is the LickiMat Buddy (available at your local Healthy Spot store). I'll add a tablespoon of organic peanut butter to the top of it, spread it around and he’ll be occupied for at least 15-20 mins, plus it helps reduce his anxiety and boredom because pets get bored too. Bully sticks and yak chews are also great options that are both a treat and a toy.
To help keep your pup’s body healthy, not only is exercise important, but keeping your dog groomed is also essential to their cleanliness and an important part of their overall well-being. In Parker’s case, German Shepherds have two coats and heavy fur that need a lot of attention, so we’re getting Parker used to being brushed daily. I like to have the kids pitch in, as it helps them both get accustomed to brushing him regularly and Parker will become more comfortable being groomed. As you might have guessed, I also take him to a Healthy Spot Grooming Salon for a bath and to have his nails trimmed, teeth brushed and ears cleaned. If you’ve adopted within the past 6 months, mention it when you call to book your appointment at a Healthy Spot salon and you’ll receive a discount on your first spa service as part of our Rescue Spot program. If you’re not able to make it to a salon, read you can find tips on how to groom at home here.
From a bowl perspective, every pet’s nutritional needs and preferences can vary based on age, temperament, food allergies, energy level and more. Fortunately while you are sheltering-in-place, you’re able to better monitor their reaction to the food in their bowl, including stool consistency and appetite, to help decide what’s best for their bowl. Most adopted or fostered pets have been on a specific diet while at the rescue, but you will want to find the right food that optimizes their overall health, which any team member at Healthy Spot can help with! I’m in the process of slowly transitioning Parker off of kibble to build a more robust bowl. He’s currently eating ZIWI Air-Dried Beef Dog Food, with Primal Freeze-Dried Turkey & Sardine and MIND BODY BOWL Chicken Bone Broth which will help build his gut health, and The Honest Kitchen Perfect Form, which helps keep his stool consistent.
#5 - Invest your time
The single most important thing you can do to make your new pup feel comfortable in their new home is invest the time into your relationship. Dedicating quality time to establishing a routine, training and playing together will help deepen your bond and start to build the trust you need to have a healthy relationship. Set aside at least 20 minutes of uninterrupted time with your pup per day. The investment you make in them now will pay off for a lifetime when you have a happy and healthy dog.
Thanks for sharing your story and tips, Andrew!
Andrew learned a lot of these amazing tips from Mary Tully, the founder of Tully’s Dog Training. Healthy Spot partners with Tully’s Training to offer dog training both you and your new rescue pup will benefit from! To learn more about their obedience training and connect with here.
Thank you for making the decision to adopt or foster. We hope that you and your new companion are helping each other stay calm and healthy at home during these unsettling times.
If you’ve recently adopted or fostered and have a tip that you’d like to share, leave a comment below!