If you own a pet and need help with the hurdles life throws at you, know you have options. Here at Hearts Alive Village we can help you navigate through some of these hurdles. Whether you are moving, looking for a pet friendly house or having behavioral issues with your pet we have suggestions for you.
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Moving

Minimize stress for yourself and your furry friends

Rehoming

Resources when the difficult decision to rehome becomes a reality

Introductions

Tips for introducing new furry family members

1. Moving

Can you take your pet with you? Look for a pet friendly home.

You can use these websites/apps to help you look for pet friendly apartments in your area.  

Even when you find a pet friendly apartment or house, make sure to check the breed and size restrictions. Some of the apartments listed may require a pet deposit. 

The Animal Foundation has a program you may be eligible to receive aid with these pet deposits. You can contact them at 702-955-5910 or KEPPT@animalfoundation.com

Moving out of state.

It’s a good idea to plan ahead of time before moving. Below are some tips to keep in mind before packing so you’re ready.

  • Check local ordinances and bylaws of your new community. 
    • Unfortunately not all breeds are welcome everywhere. Be ready for this before moving out. 
  • Check airline guidelines for pets.
    • Some airlines will have different requirements for what type of pets are allowed to travel with you. 
    • Soft carriers will be required for small enough pets. Size of the carrier may vary depending on the airline you fly with.
    • It’s best to visit the airline website for full details on their pet traveling policy.
    • Check with your vet if a final wellness or other pet records/travel documents will be needed for air travel 
  • If traveling by car, you might want to do research on hotels that are pet friendly hotels before embarking on your journey. 
    • There are many websites out there that provide information on great pet-friendly hotels. Be sure and check the hotel policies as most hotels have a weight limit on pets and require visitors to be with their pet at all times.
  • Talk to your current vet if you have an animal that dislikes traveling.
    • Your vet can suggest behavior modification techniques or medication that can make traveling less stressful for your pet.
    • Discuss getting Fluffy or Fido micro-chipped.
  • Keep microchip contact information current.
2. Rehoming

Looking for a new home for your pet:

Advertise through friends, neighbors and local veterinarians. Your personal network is the best pool of adopters for your pet. Ask your veterinarian if you can place a poster advertising your pet’s need for a new home. Place flyers promoting your pet at work, school, church and other public places you frequent. Include a good-quality photo and appealing description of your pet. Leverage your social network. Post your pet’s photo and story and ask your friends to share it on their social streams.

Reach out to local rescue organizations and shelters for temporary boarding if you will only be temporarily displaced for a month or two.

Rehoming websites:

At the same time you reach out to your personal network, you can also try to rehome through dedicated websites to help you along this process. You will be able to post your pet on these websites with bios and pictures of your pet. This way more people will be able to see your post and increase the chances that your pet finds the perfect new home.

Time is important here, the more time you have the better. Usually for larger pets it could take up to two months to get adopted. Depending on the breed this could be as short as only a couple of weeks. Small pets and those under a year can usually find a home within the first month of being posted. 

Rehome.adoptapet.com

Adoptapet.com

Things to keep in mind when using these websites:

  • Set up a meet and greet with the new family.
      • Dog to cat or cat to cat meet and greets should be done over a week or two week period of time. (more details below)
  • Make your pet more attractive to potential adopters.
      • Have your pet vaccinated and checked by a veterinarian. Making sure your pet is spayed or neutered may also make them more likely to be chosen by a new owner.
  • Be transparent with potential adopters.
    • Be prepared to share details about your pet’s personality and how they get along with other pets and people. Share your pet’s favorite things and not-so-favorite things. Also share any medical or behavior issues your pet is experiencing so that potential new owners will have the information they need to determine if your pet would be a good fit for their family.

If you use other websites like craigslist or facebook groups, you will want to use other precautions:

  • Request for a small rehoming fee.
    • Giving your pet away for free may mean an uncertain future for them. You would like to think that people who are looking to adopt a dog or cat are doing so out of the goodness of their heart. They want to love and care for the pet and give it a good life. But unfortunately not everyone has the best intentions or will treat your animal like a pet. A rehoming fee may discourage undesirables from preying on your pet.
    • On average, this fee can range from $25 to $100
  • Be creative, positive and persistent. 
    • There are many animals needing homes at any one time, so finding a home can take some work. There are good homes out there, so try to maintain a positive attitude. Explore all options you can think of for finding a home – creativity and persistence are usually rewarded.
  • Remind yourself that you are your pet’s best option for finding a new home. 
    • You might think shelters or rescue groups would be more adept at placing your pet because they have experience, facilities, screening guidelines, etc. But, an individual, particularly one who knows the animal, can focus all his or her efforts on that pet, provide the most information to prospective adopters and best determine the appropriateness of a new home. Also, any shelter or sanctuary is stressful for an animal. The shelter setting, no matter how nice, can bring on stress-related problem which can result in behavior issues like: Anxiety, aggression, fear, and even illness are common and these natural reactions may make adoption difficult or impossible.
3. Introducing your resident and new pets
 
Introducing your new pets to your current ones can be very easy if you follow some recommendations and stick to them as necessary.
  • Introduction on neutral territory.
      • It’s best to let dogs become familiar with each other on neutral territory: outdoors. Each dog should be walked separately on a leash, and each walker should have a bag of high-value treats or food broken into small pieces. At first, walk the dogs at a distance where they can see each other but are not too provoked by each other’s presence. If the dogs are not showing any negative behaviors and neither have good guarding issues, reward them with treats just for seeing each other. For example, when the dog you’re walking looks at the other dog, you can say “Good boy!” in a happy, friendly voice and give him a treat. Repeat often. 
  • Pay attention to each dog’s body language.
      • Watch carefully for body postures that indicate a defensive or wary response, including hair standing up on the dog’s back, teeth baring, growling, a stiff-legged gait or a prolonged stare. If you see such postures, either when the dogs are at a distance or near each other, immediately and calmly interrupt the interaction by interesting the dog in something else. If the dogs seem relaxed and comfortable, you can shorten the distance between them. Again, offer treats to the dogs any time they look at each other in a relaxed manner. 
  • Let the dogs determine the pace of the introduction.
      • It’s possible that the dogs will just want to play with each other by the middle of the walk. It’s also possible that it will take more time before the dogs are comfortable enough to walk side by side. The most important thing is to take this introduction slowly. The more patient you are, the better your chance of success. Do not force the dogs to interact.
      • Once the dogs are able to view each other at a close proximity, allow one dog to walk behind the other, and then switch. If the dogs remain comfortable, allow them to walk side by side. Finally, let the dogs interact under close supervision. If one or both dogs show any signs of stress or agitation, proceed more slowly with the introduction.
  • Dog Intros regarding leash reactivity
      • If comfortable it is best to introduce new dogs that are showing positive reactions to each other off leash in an enclosed safe neutral area. This is also a good way to introduce dogs with leash and barrier reactivity. This can be a tennis court or private park or any safe enclosed space that you can easily remove your dog from in case of an incident. Dog parks are not recommended unless there are no other dogs currently in the park. We do not recommend letting dogs build up tension and arousal on leash or through the gate. Leave leashes clipped to collars but drop them once you’ve safely entered the enclosure. Some dogs may instantly play, some may take time to warm up, some may not get along. It’s important to do any introduction outside of the home to limit any type of territorial behavior. Always try to end any intro sessions on a positive note.
  • Monitor closely in the home.
    • When first introducing the dogs in the home, use a sturdy, tall baby gate to separate them. Observe how they interact through the gate. Reinforce positive behavior by providing high-value treats to the dogs for positive interactions.
    • Make sure that there are no toys, food or treats left around the home that the dogs could potentially fight over. Also, be aware of situations that could lead to conflict—for example, when the dogs get overly excited. Closely monitor the dogs when they are together, rewarding them with treats, until you are 100% confident they are comfortable and safe with each other. 

For help with introductions that don’t seem to be going well, contact a professional trainer or animal behaviorist.

Separate Base Camp (and the mandatory isolation phase)
  • Base camp is a defined area of your home that is the heart of a cat’s territory. So first, decide where you’re going to set up base camp for the new cat, so he feels like this space is essentially all his own. This could be the master or a spare bedroom, an office, or even the bathroom when there is no other option. As long as the human scent is strong, it will help the cat establish a sense of home by commingling scents.
    • In addition, here are a few other important elements associated with successful base camp protocol:
    • Scent soakers: Because cats are all about scent, make sure that you have plenty of “scent soakers” in their base camp. Scent soakers are soft items that absorb a cat’s scent, and basically say “I live here,” and allow for rubbing, scratching, or lying in. Beds, blankets, carpets, cardboard scratchers, and scratching posts are all excellent scent soakers.
    • No Peeking: One of the hallmarks of this integration method is that the new cat and the resident will not initially lay eyes on each other. This is non-negotiable. Ignore this part of the introduction process at your own peril!

Once your new cat demonstrates a notable comfort level in has base camp, it’s time for site swapping. 

  • Site Swapping.
    • This is where each cat gets to explore the other’s territory without ever laying eyes on each other. This is also an opportunity for key signposts—like cat trees, litter boxes, etc.—to take on a shared scent. This is crucial to the “getting to know you” process with cats, since so much of their communication is based on scent.
Follow this simple process for harmonious site swapping:
  • Carry the newcomer out of his base camp, put him in the bathroom, and shut the door.
  •  Allow the resident cat to walk into the newcomer’s base camp, then shut that door.
  • Allow the newcomer to explore the rest of the home.
  • Rinse and repeat.
Your new cat will let you know when he’s ready to move out of base camp and explore the other parts of the house. (It could be anywhere from a few hours to a few days.)

Be patient and pay attention to the comfort level of your new and resident cat.

The “Other Side of the Door” Feeding Ritual: 

  • This feeding ritual, which is all about creating a positive association between the newcomer and the resident cat, has evolved over the years, but by and large has always worked for me. What’s involved? Very simply, mealtime will consist of bowls set up on either side of a closed door. These bowls should start out far enough apart so the cats will walk up, eat, and walk away without incident, but close enough that they sense there’s another cat on the other side of the door. From there, we gradually move the bowls closer.
Step two: Visual Access.
  • With both cats now acutely aware of the other’s scent, it’s time to let them actually see each other. The work you’ve done up to this point has resulted in predictable behavior between the two cats and a cordial (or at least tolerant) “scent handshake” at every meal. It’s a mistake, though, to assume that they will be just as cordial once the visual element is introduced. Instead, begin at the beginning and reset the Challenge Line; take the feeding line back all the way to where they can see one another and eat with little or no disruption. And now, do the move-bowls-closer-to-the-door process all over again, but this time, add the element of increased visual access.
You have a choice to make.
  1. Choosing a “buffer barrier” –
  • Do you simply crack the base camp door, or set up a pet gate or screen door? In my experience, the better option is to introduce the cats by either using a pet gate or a screen door. A pet gate works better than a baby gate because pet gates are high and have a walk-through door in them, so that the human doesn’t have to disassemble the base camp door every time he wants to cross that threshold.
  1. The “Raising the Curtain” technique –
  • Drape a blanket over that gate or use clothespins to hang it from the screen (or, perhaps less effectively, a cracked door). This gives you a much greater sense of control over the degree of visual access because you can “raise the curtain” gradually over a period of time. The curtain allows you to start with the absolute bare minimum of visual access. For many cats, this added layer of security makes all the difference in getting comfortable with their new friend.
Step Three – Eat, Play, Love

The idea here is to get both cats in a room together, sans any sort of barrier, and keep things as harmonious as possible for increasing segments of time. Philosophically, this is an extension of the “other side of the door” exercise. Before, you were just creating a positive association based on food. Now, as you arrange to have both cats co-exist in a room together, you are going for the whole enchilada as a way of facilitating the ultimate positive association: you are looking to create the highest of high-value experiences we humans bring to our cats in the course of a day, in these three things—eat, play, love.

Remember, the worst thing you can do for any kind of in-person/no barriers introduction, is to bring both cats into a shared space without giving them something to do. In that ill-advised scenario, the other cat becomes their “something to do,” and you’ll likely find that the “staredown” soon turns into a “throwdown.”

Now from time to time you’ll have to end this session early and that’s ok. When introducing cats during the Eat Play Love phase it’s all about reading the room for any warning signs, and being ready to act quickly. Our cats are so energetically sensitive, and can certainly feel the raised temperature in the room. So it’s important for you to have a plan in case conflict unfolds, and again it’s ok if it does.

Here’s a checklist to help you feel prepared in case anything happens. 

The Unders and the Outs:

  • Fights usually start with the chase. Chasing very often ends in a room, in a closet, or under a bed or a piece of furniture you never thought was big enough for one cat, let alone two. You can control the chaos by controlling the space—and that means blocking off the Unders [beds or couches] and sealing off the Outs [open doors or passageways].

Have Your Sight Blockers Ready:

  • A Sight  Blocker is used to guide someone out of the room and is  something  that: (a) the cats can’t see through, (b) is solid enough that you can place it between them and they can’t bust through it, and (c) is high enough that you don’t have to bend down to place it between the two cats. 

Last Resort Removal Option:

  • In the event of a serious lockdown, when you can’t get the cats to budge even with the Sight Blockers down, or if, despite your best efforts, a fight breaks out, a blanket can be a good friend. Just toss it over one of them, scoop him up, and remove him from the room.
  1. How it Works – The gist of Eat, Play, Love. is pretty simple: You’re bringing one cat into a room where there’s another cat who is already engaged in a high-value, fully engrossing activity. And your challenge is to keep them preoccupied for as long as possible through treats, positive reinforcement, play, and… well… love—without that staredown/throwdown happening.

I suggest having a partner to assist you in the process:

  1. Start with One Cat: Begin by playing with only one cat in the room at first. Make sure she is engaged, and keep her moving… either with treats or a toy.
  2. Bring in the Other Cat: Casually have your partner bring the other cat into the room and immediately engage him. In a perfect world, you would lead the cat into the space with whatever is their favorite food or toy.
  3. Keep the “Rhythm” Going: The most important component when you bring the cats together is establishing and maintaining a rhythm of play once they hit the room. This is where your partner’s help is invaluable, because he or she can work to focus the other cat on the session while you do the same with yours.
  4. End the Session: The session will end in one of two ways: either the cats will end it, or the humans will. It goes without saying that you would prefer the latter every time.

B. Final Goal for Eat, Play, Love – Once you are secure in Eat, Play, Love—when you can accomplish EPL without having to end it prematurely, and it’s a ritual that has become a part of the everyday cycle—congratulations, you are pretty much home free. From there, you can break down the door/gate barrier for mealtime and end the session by feeding the cats on the side of the room that they occupy.

 

  • If you’re thinking of getting a cat for your dog or a dog for your cat, it’s important to consider both animals’ personalities. It may be helpful to look for a companion that has already been exposed to the other species in the past.
  • If a dog attempts to aggressively chase, pin, pick up or otherwise “manhandle” any cat, it is best to not even consider getting a cat — or at least to proceed with caution. Additionally, a dog who growls, lunges at or obsessively barks at a cat would probably do best in a cat-free environment. Likewise, a cat who growls, swats at, runs from or hides from dogs would probably prefer to not live with a dog.
  • If a dog loves chasing things, then a fearful, shy cat who runs away probably wouldn’t be the best choice, as it could trigger the dog to chase. Similarly, an energetic cat who runs and pounces would fall into this same category. A better match here would be a calm, confident cat who will not run (in fear or play).
  • If a dog plays roughly, it is best to avoid kittens or elderly cats who can easily be hurt. Instead, stick to playful adults who are interested in play, but are also confident enough to take care of themselves. If a cat is rambunctious or playful, a dog that is playful, but gentle, could be a great option.
  • If a dog or cat is elderly, laid back, quiet or anxious, then a calm counterpart would be best. Avoid rambunctious companions who may annoy, frighten or otherwise bother the other pet.

 

Regardless of whether you are getting a new cat or a new dog, the first introduction between your current pet and your new pet is a very important part of the process. Here are four steps that can help you ensure a successful meeting:

 

The first meeting should be taking place at home. Never bring your dog or cat to meet the dog or cat you are adopting to the adoption place. You have to be fully in charge of the environment as well as the when and how your pets will meet. 

 

Separation

 

  • Do not place the pets in the same room right away. Allow time for them to get used to each other. This means they will have designated areas in the house where they can be themselves. 
    • Across a few days, rotate which animal has free rein of the house and which is confined to allow each animal plenty of time to investigate the other one’s scent.
  • Sometimes the dog should be in a crate or another room (or taken to another location if he can’t be left alone) to allow the cat time to roam free and investigate the smell of the dog.
  • If the dog obsessively digs at the separation barrier or barks at the cat for more than a day or two, the interaction likely won’t work without proper training. You may need the help of a professional.
  • When no one is home, the dog or cat must always be securely confined so unsupervised interactions are not possible.
  • Once the dog is calm (or at least not obsessed with the cat) and the cat is calm, eating and using the litter box normally, you can proceed to the next step.

 

Potty training: 

 

If you recently adopted through a rescue or family member but your pet is not potty trained like at it’s previous home. It may be due to a number of reasons. 

 

Moving into a new home is very stressful, that is especially true for cats and dogs. It is also important to know that when a pet moves to another home they might not know where to use the restroom. While some pets adapt right away, this won’t be the same for every pet. For example, if a dog was only allowed to use the restroom on concrete at its previous home, in the new house if there isn’t any you may have some issues. In case you don’t know this about your new adopted pet, it could make everything more complicated. Here are a few things to try assuming we don’t know your new pet’s previous potty schedule:

 

Dogs.

 

  • Keep a consistent schedule.
    • If you cannot keep a feeding and potty schedule consistent, it will become almost impossible to potty train.
  • If you catch them going potty inside, you can interrupt/startle and discourage with an Uh Uh noise and redirect them outside to the appropriate potty place.
    • Do not scold or yell if you discover they have pottied but did not catch them in the act. The dog cannot correlate your current frustration to the act they already did. Simply ignore them and clean up and refocus by praising when they correctly potty in the right location. 
  •  Give praise when they potty outside or any place you want them to go in. 
    • Make it a big deal (because it is) praise them and use Mickey Mouse energy. You want to let your dog know this is good. They will be more likely to repeat the action when they get something out of it. You can also use treats as well as praise.

 

Being consistent is super important, if you are not consistent you might not make any progress or erase any progress you might have already made. Make sure you have a schedule that works with your own. 

 

Keeping in mind that even though some dogs were potty trained in their previous home, it is also important to note that new environments may require retraining. If your dog was only allowed to pee on the porch or grass or concrete they may not know they are allowed to go where you want them to. 

 

Cats.

 

  • Provide enough litter boxes.
    • The rule is, you want to have 1 more litter box than however many cats you have.
  • Go to the vet.
    • Declawing, Urinary Tract Infection, kidney failure, liver disease, or diabetes. 
    • All of the above can be reasons why you cat may not be using their litter box and will require a visit to the vet.
  • Keep it clean!
    • Cats are very finicky and when it comes to their litter box is no different. You want to clean according to how heavy the litter box is being used. This may be different for each household. Some people do it once or twice a day while for some they may require cleaning only once every 2-3 days.
  • Litter box placement.
    • Do not place the litter box in the closet, laundry room or in the corner of the house. Cats will want to use the bathroom in the middle of where people are.
    • Place the litter box in the living room, kitchet, or a hallway. 
  • Journal everything.
    • If you’ve tried everything and your cat is still not using the litter box, you will want to know when, where and why. When you start looking at what may seem random, you will more than likely find a pattern. 
    • Start using painters tape to mark with an X on the floor where your cat is doing it’s business. This may reveal a pattern to something or someone in the house.



Not getting along with other pets: 

 

Start over, separate them in the home. Consider crate training both dogs (or all dogs in multi pet homes) which will allow animals to have a safe space if needing to rotate animals safely. Try a reintroduction from the beginning in a neutral intro. Parallel walks on the leash to a neutral area, drop leashes in the contained area. Do not unclip leashes off the collar. Get all dogs fixed right away if they are not already.

Your dog’s behavior is part of a panic response and not trying to punish you, they just want you to come back home.

 

Triggers can be 

 

  • Being left alone for the first time.
  • Being left alone when accustomed to constant human contact.
  • Suffering a traumatic event, such as time at a shelter or boarding kennel, other trauma 
  • Change in the family’s routine or structure, or the loss of a family member or other pet.
  • Following a long interval, such as a vacation during which the owner and dog are constantly together.
  • After a change in the family’s routine or stricture (a child leaving for college, a change in work schedule, a move to a new home, a new pet or person in the home).

How to treat it:

For a minor separation anxiety problem, the following techniques may be helpful by themselves. For more severe problems, these techniques should be used along with the desensitization.

  • Don’t make a big deal out of arrivals and departures — ignore your dog for the first few minutes then calmly pet them.
  • IF they are destroying things in the house, crate them. 
  • If crating doesn’t work, baby gate to fence them in a room without carpet like the kitchen.
  • Give a frozen Kong or other toys 15 minutes before leaving so they are distracting.
  • Doggy day care.
  • Build up the time you spend out of the house. Walk out 5 minutes and then 10 minutes and so on. Or as allowed per your schedule. 
  • Leave your dog with recently worn clothes that smell like you.
  • Consider using an over-the-counter calming product that reduces fearfulness in dogs.
  • Establish a word or action that you use every time you leave that tells your dog you’ll be back. 

Dogs usually learn to associate certain cues with short absences by their owners. For example, when you take out the garbage, your dog knows you come right back and doesn’t become anxious. Therefore, it’s helpful to associate a safety cue with your practice departures and short-duration absences.

Some examples of safety cues are: a playing radio, a playing television, a bone, or a toy (one that doesn’t have dangerous fillings and can’t be torn into pieces we recommend frozen Kong’s). Use your safety cue during practice sessions, but don’t present your dog with the safety cue when you leave for a period of time longer than he can tolerate or the value of the safety cue will be lost. Leaving a radio on to provide company for your dog isn’t particularly useful by itself, but a playing radio may work if you’ve used it consistently as a safety cue in your practice sessions. If your dog engages in destructive chewing as part of his separation distress, offering him a chewing item as a safety cue is a good idea. Very hard rubber toys that can be stuffed with treats and Nylabone-like products are good choices.

Still need more information?

You can contact us with any questions or concerns about your particular situation for a personalized solution. We will do our best to get you in touch with the right person or organization.

Let us help you

Email us at julio@heartsalivevillage.org or text us at (702) 301-1718
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