Welcoming your new emotional support animal into your life is the most special and important time in your relationship. It’s during this period that you get to know each other, spend quality time together and most importantly, establish the bond that will prove immeasurably beneficial to your life.
In these first few weeks, it’s vital that you take both of your needs into account when planning how to acclimatize your ESA to its new home. It’s easy to get carried away in the excitement of having your new friend around. So if you don’t have a solid plan for how you are going to live life together, things can go awry very quickly.
Pet-proofing Your Home
Before you pick up your new two- or four-legged friend, make sure your home is ready for the big arrival. Depending on what emotional support animal you’re getting, items on the shopping list should include food, a collar, bedding, a cage, a litterbox, a leash, water and food bowls, and of course, plenty of toys.
Now that you have the material bits sorted, it’s time to pet-proof your home! This can include taping up chords; moving plants, rugs or breakables off the floor; and, if you feel you may have an explorer on your hands, installing some baby gates. If your ESA is going to be an adorable puppy or a mischievous kitten, be sure to keep washer and dryer doors closed to avoid them serving as a hiding place for curious paws.
Bringing Home Your Emotional Support Animal
The day you bring home your emotional support animal is when you’ll establish your bond. Try to pick your new pal up on a Friday — or any other day where you’ll have the proceeding days totally free to work on acclimatizing it to its new environment. Remember, when you’re bringing a new pet home, it’s often either come from a stressful environment, such as an animal shelter, or it’s just been taken away from its family, so it’s bound to be a little stressed and confused. Ameliorate this by staying by its side and offering it plenty of affection to make it feel more at home.
During your emotional support animal’s first few days in its new home, try to avoid having people over, especially children. The flurry of excitement that comes with visitors could prove to be too exhausting for your ESA and could set you back in getting it acquainted to its new surroundings.
Be patient with your new companion, and introduce it to family members, pets and new rooms of the house one at a time. Any pets you already have can be a little jealous of a new arrival, so make sure you’re on hand to act as a mediator in case any errant paws are swung.
Managing the First Few Weeks
After a week or so, bring your new emotional support animal to the vet to get a checkup and to make sure its vaccines are up to date. As much as animal shelters and breeders try to have this sorted before you collect your ESA, sometimes things slip through the cracks. It’s best to get these sorted ASAP after it comes home.
If your new furry friend is an emotional support dog, when it comes to training it, patience is key. Even with older, seemingly house-trained pups, the stress that comes with a change of environment can lead to them forgetting whatever housebreaking they may have learned. For the first few weeks, it’s best to keep your new dog in the kitchen, or any other tiled area, to avoid ruining carpets around your home.
Dealing with Being Gone During the Workday
The biggest hurdle you’re going to meet when trying to acclimatize your new ESA to your lifestyle is getting it used to you being away at work. Most pets, especially dogs, suffer from some form of separation anxiety when their owner leaves them for their 9 to 5s. As you can’t really skip work to play with your ESA, you’re going to have to make sure you’re extra loving and attentive before you leave and when you get home.
Thankfully, there are a number of ways that you can put your emotional support animal at ease while you’re gone for the workday. Making sure your emotional support animal has loads of toys to keep it entertained is the best way to make sure it doesn’t stress about your absence. Kong toys, in particular, are great for keeping bored pups occupied.
Leaving a radio on in the background can be great for soothing your pet’s nerves, too. The noise will act as the perfect distraction while also masking outdoor noises that can set off territorial pups. Studies have shown that lonely pets are especially soothed by country and classical music, so now’s the perfect time to dig out your old Garth Brooks and Mozart CDs!
Getting your new emotional support animal acclimatized to your lifestyle can take two hours or two months! There isn’t just one trick to getting it settled. You’ll just have to figure it out as you go along. However, this journey is one of the most important ones that you’ll take with your ESA, and by the end of it, you’ll be an inseparable team that’s ready to take on the world!