May 15, 2020

7 tips for new pet parents or pet fosters

By Pawzy Team
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Interested in becoming a new pet parent or becoming a pet foster? It seems to be a trend that’s on the rise according to the Humane Society of Canada who recently reported a 20-60% increase in pet adoptions across the country. They also suspect that the global pandemic plays a role. 

Now that we’re spending more time at home, it’s much easier to train a new dog. Plus, the comfort of a pet can be especially helpful as we’re socially isolated from others. According to studies, dogs can help lower our stress, improve health and generally give our quality of life a boost. 

Getting a dog, however, is still a big decision. This might be why searches for “pet fostering” have increased by 414% this spring compared to last year, while pet adoption has seen 83% more searches in comparison. Fostering is an incredibly helpful volunteer service that helps rescues find secure homes when the organization doesn’t have the capacity to take care of them. When you foster a pet, it’s care is your responsibility but technically it’s still owed by the rescue organization — i.e. you can potentially give it back. There’s more flexibility if the cat or dog is the wrong fit for your family or you can be a “foster fail” and end up adopting the pet permanently. 

However, that doesn’t mean fostering is a rent-a-pet option that allows you to return your cat or dog when your life situation changes. The goal is to provide stability for a pet in need, rather than continue to challenge them with new environments. To make sure you’re ready to bring a new pet into your home, there are several things to consider — is it the right breed for your lifestyle? Do you have enough resources for food and medical care? By following a few simple tips, you can ensure a happy future with your new best friend, no matter what that future brings.

1. Choose the right breed for your lifestyle

At Pawzy, we don’t believe there’s such a thing as “the best dog breed.” Instead, there’s the best dog breed for you and your lifestyle. It’s important to take into consideration your daily lifestyle, personality and living situation when you’re selecting a dog for adoption or fostering. Are you in a small apartment where barking is a problem? Do you need a dog breed that’s good with kids? Maybe you want a cuddly couch potato or a pup that loves to hike all day long. Our dog breed selector quiz can help you discover breeds and learn more about the ones you already love. 

2. Get a medical check-up

New pet parents should know that the first year can be the most expensive when it comes to veterinarian costs. You’ll likely need multiple trips to the vet for vaccinations and procedures (e.g. spay/neutering). There’s also an annual heartworm/flea/tick prevention, dental care and other potential issues like coughing or throwing up. Luckily, online vet appointments can cut down on money and time, but your pet’s medical care should still be factored into your decision. It’s also helpful to invest in pet insurance to help manage unexpected costs.

3. Do proper introductions

It’s exciting to bring a new dog into your home, but you have to be conscious of the other people and pets that already live there. It can take several weeks, even months, before animals peacefully coexist. The age of your children for some dogs, especially smaller breeds, should be considered. You should make sure that both your current family and the new addition are not in any danger. Lastly, with less access to public outdoor spaces, your dog might miss out on proper socialization during the lockdown restrictions. Do your best to properly introduce the new kid on the block to other local dogs and people. Hiring a trainer could be a good option if your dog is especially responsive (e.g. barks, pulls at the leash or hides).

4. Work on training

Training is a great way to bond with your new dog. Through “sits”, “stays” and “shake a paw,” your dog will learn to trust you and read your body language. It can give a shy dog more confidence and a confident dog more focus. When you first bring a dog home, you should be able to commit at least an hour every day to training. Keep in mind that some dogs might require more attention. Although we have less access to in-person classes, trainers are available over video conference platforms. There’s also great tutorials for free on YouTube (e.g. Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution channel). For correcting specific behavioural problems, consulting an online vet is also an option. 

5. Find the right food and treats

Based on our research, the annual cost of food for a dog is $1000 and over $450 for a cat. Because 95% Canadians consider their pets to be family, it’s safe to say that our animals are getting the good stuff. High quality food and treats will lead to better health overall and who doesn’t love spoiling their pup with a top-notch bone? If your dog experiences medical issues, like allergies or weight gain, you should be prepared to make adjustments to their diet. 

6. Stock up on toys

We want to keep our dogs and cats mentally stimulated which is why toys are so important. Also, if you don’t find the right toy for their personality, they’ll find something in your house to play with, and it’s not always pretty. Save your shoes from getting chewed up by getting a few toys that capture your pet’s interest. You might have to try out a few options — from laser pointers for cats to puzzles for dogs, there’s really something for every pet out there. Our research found that annually cat owners usually spend $25 and dog owners spend $65 on toys.

7. Connect with your community

Adopting or fostering a new pet can be stressful. There’s a bit of an adjustment period as your dog or cat settles in. Connecting with a community for advice or commiserating can help ease the tension of those first weeks, months or even years. Many rescue organizations, for example, have Facebook groups for alumni to share experiences. You can also reach out to the organization directly if needed. We find that social media can be a great place to connect with other pet parents and share cute photos with other animal lovers. Follow us on Instagram (@pawzyco) and say hi! 


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