More families bring a new pet home during the holiday season than at any other time of the year.
And while some may even choose to give a pet to a loved one as a gift, this could prove to be challenging, as they may not be able to care for said pet.
In fact, many of the local animal rescue organizations brace for an influx of dogs after the holidays, according to Mardi Rivetti, founder of Rescues on the Runway.
That being said, there are a number of steps new pet owners need to take to ensure those animals don’t return to the shelter.
Here are some tips and tricks to remember in order to make the transition easier for your new, four-legged friends from Rivetti, along with The Brittany Foundation Animal Sanctuary founder Nancy Anderson and Castaic Animal Care Center volunteer Terra Dispirito:
Meet the candidates
While technology has made it more convenient to fall in love with an animal virtually, it’s still important to make sure that connection translates when face to face.
Setting up a meet and greet at the rescue or shelter allows you to meet the animal and find out if it is truly the right fit for you and your family.
The most important thing to do is involve every member of the family, including any other animals you may already have, to make sure you find the perfect fit, so instead of putting a puppy in a box under the tree, maybe get a gift certificate or IOU to a shelter so you can head over and make the decision together.
Practice makes perfect
Make sure that your holiday plans include plenty of time at home. You want to have ample time to get to know your pet and provide the necessary behavioral training.
It’s also important to remember to take into consideration how these new family members will adjust when the time comes for you to get back to your normal routine after the holidays, whether that means work or school.
Training should start within the first couple of weeks of bringing your new animal home, but new parents should be patient and give the animal time to adjust.
In fact, this should be your top priority, as it typically takes an animal two to four weeks minimum to decompress and adjust to their new surroundings.
Get them into a routine
Setting a routine for the animal can also help ensure they are prepared for when the holidays are over and you need to return to your normal schedule.
Start by leaving them alone for a couple of hours, then working up to longer stints, which can help to housebreak them and prevent from having accidents indoors as well.
For this reason, you should also consider adopting after the holidays in order to properly transition your new animal into your home after the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is over.
Before leaving your animal unsupervised, it’s also important to do a walk-around, identifying things around the house that they could eat, as well as ways they could escape, when left alone.
You should also consider getting them some toys, which can not only keep them occupied and distracted, but also help make them feel comfortable in their new surroundings.
Get your puppy kiss fixes in other ways
There are many ways to give back if you aren’t ready to take the plunge and adopt an animal of your own, such as volunteering at a shelter or rescue.
Volunteering before adopting can not only be a rewarding way to celebrate the season by giving back, but it can also give you a sneak peek into the personalities of different animals.
Additionally, you can volunteer to foster or maybe to be a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs of America | Tender Loving Canines, who are in search of Santa Clarita Valley residents to open their hearts — and homes — to a puppy-in-training.
The local guide dog and service dog program has been facing an extreme shortage of volunteers this winter to help raise five litters of Labrador retrievers and Labrador/golden crosses who are scheduled to move into their puppy raisers’ homes through December and into January.
For more information, visit signalscv.com/2021/11/guide-dogs-of-america-tender-loving-canines-searching-for-puppy-raisers.
A call to pet owners
Local rescues are also working to prevent those who already have pets from surrendering as they return to work or begin to travel again.
Rather than surrendering your pet, consider looking for boarders or pet sitters if you’re traveling during the holidays.
And if you cannot keep the pet, search for a reputable rescue to take them to or try to rehome the pet yourself.
The Castaic Animal Care Center is waiving fees, which include the adoption, microchip, spay/neuter and vaccination, for dogs in care for 10 days or longer and all cats this month through Dec. 31. The center is located at 31044 N. Charlie Canyon Road in Castaic and can be visited by appointment only due to COVID-19. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit animalcare.lacounty.gov or call 661-257-3191.