8 Steps to Building a Solid Relationship with Your Pet

8 Steps to Building a Solid Relationship with Your Pet

Most people know that being a responsible pet parent means feeding them nutritious food, taking care of their medical needs, having them micro-chipped, and cleaning up after them. However, did you ever consider the relationship you need to develop with your fur baby?

Being the best possible fur-mom or fur-dad isn’t just about making sure their basic physical needs are met. You also want to see to it that their emotional and mental needs are taken care of. A good part of this happens when you bring a new pet into the home, however, if you’ve had your baby for a while, don’t worry. There’s still plenty that can be done once they are established in the house.

Are you ready to build that special relationship with your furry little friend? Here’s how:

  1. Pick the Right Pet for Your Family

As much as we would love to go solely based off of “cuteness level,” not every pet will be a good fit for every home and vice-versa.  That puppy that is 5 pounds today may well be 80 pounds or more in 6 months, which means larger food bills and longer walks (while there is nothing wrong with that, you want to be prepared and able to afford the time and money that will be required to give them the life they deserve.)

 There are several different ways to look at a good match:

  • Type
  • Breed
  • Size
  • Personality
  • Activity Level
  • Time

 Maybe you’re already a “dog person” or a “cat person.” Or maybe, you love both and need help deciding who would be the best fit right now. Take a look at your lifestyle and your environment. If you work long hours, have no time to take walks, and live in an apartment or a condo without a backyard, you may want to bring a kitty into your life. If you spend lots of time hiking or love to walk around the neighborhood for exercise and fresh air, a dog may be the perfect addition.

 If you’ve decided to bring home a pup, you’ll want to take their breed into account, but don’t get hung up on it. While there are some characteristics that are common, every dog has their own personality and you’ll need to take that into consideration as well. If you’re thinking about rescuing an animal (which we hope you are!), you may not even know the breed so their individual personality will be your main focus. If you are interested in a particular breed you can check out petfinder.com and see the rescues available for your breed of choice.   

 Most importantly, be patient and wait for the right animal to come along. This is a 10-20 year commitment and you’ll want to make sure it’s right for both you and the animal.

  1. Pet-proof Your House

Anyone who has ever opened their home to an animal knows that pets teach us how to be neater… often the hard way. Chewed up shoes, electronics, walls – you name it and some animal somewhere has eaten it.

 While you’ll want to work with your pet to know what is appropriate chewing and scratching materials, pet-proofing your house before they arrive is essential. This will keep them safe, healthy, out of trouble and you less frustrated.

 A few things to look for:

  • Are items picked up off the floor? Now might be a great time to invest in a shoe storage system.
  • Do all cabinet doors close and lock properly? Most household cleaners can be poisonous to animals. Medications can as well, so make sure they are out of reach of prying paws. Because let’s face it, while they may be pill ninjas when you want them to take it, finding one on the floor may just pique their interest.
  • If you have a backyard, is it fenced in without any holes or areas for them to dig under? Is it tall enough to prevent escape for the pet you are welcoming to the family?
  • Does your trash can lock or can it be moved into a latched cabinet or to a room where pets don’t have access.
  • Look for any small spaces they may be able to crawl through to hide or escape and close off those spaces. 
  1. Getting to Know Your Pet

 Having a new animal in the house is so exciting! In between the photo shoots and epic cuddle sessions, you will want to learn about your pet’s personality. While you need to establish yourself as the alpha in your “pack”, remember that every animal is different and deserves to have their preferences respected.

 Here are a few things to look at:

  • What does he or she like to do?
  • Where do they like to relax and unwind?
  • Where do they like to be petted or scratched?
  • What frightens them or makes the anxious?

 You’ll also want to get to know their body. Do they have any lumps or bumps to keep an eye on? Are they at a healthy weight? Knowing how they look when they are healthy will help you spot any changes quickly so you can get them to a vet as soon as possible.

  1. Introducing Pets

The key to introducing new and existing fur babies is to do it slowly. It’s much easier to ease pets into an introduction over time than it is to deal with negative or potentially dangerous behavior once a disagreement has occurred. If you already have a dog or cat and are introducing another into the family, be aware that you will experience jealousy from the current place holder in the home.  Don’t worry though, usually after a few days to a week they will become fast friends.

If you are introducing dogs, take them outside to meet on neutral territory (and under leash control). Walk them close to each other for a little while and then allow them to sniff. 

When introducing dogs and cats, keep them separated in different rooms for a few days before allowing them to meet. That way, they can get used to one another’s smell first.  Always supervise their first few times together until you know they are ok with the other.   Always make sure that your cat has a dog-free zone to escape to if they feel unsafe.

  1. Basic Manners Training

While your pet may be sweet from the moment you bring him or her home, they probably won’t come trained. For their safety, your safety (and sanity), and your guests safety (not to mention the furniture’s well being), you’ll need to train a few basic commands.

These can include:

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Down
  • Leave It
  • Come
  • Off

Make training time fun with lots of positive reinforcement and yummy, healthy treats. Stop by our Las Vegas dog bakery, Mooch’s Munchies if you are local to the area. If not, you can order directly from our website and have these all-natural dog treats shipped to your home.  Moochsmunchies.com

  1. Socialization

 You’ll want to spend some time socializing your pet so they aren’t scared or aggressive when they meet other people and animals. This is a gradual process which can take a little while depending on your pet’s personality, but it absolutely worth the work. Here are a few tips for socializing: 

  • Spend lots of quality time with your dog or cat. During this time, you’ll want to touch their paws, tails, ears, etc.
  • Take your dog for frequent walks so they can pick up new smells, sights, and sounds
  • Invite people over to the house to socialize with your pet.
  • Set up play dates in a controlled environment (i.e.: a backyard) with other pets and their parents
  • Work your way up to a dog park. This can be an assault to your dog’s senses and a real test of their temperament and patience. Also, puppies need to wait until they are older and have had all their vaccinations to avoid any possible contagious viruses like Parvo. You’ll want to ease into this to create a safe and positive experience for everyone. 

Note: When other people see how cute your dog is, they’ll likely want to give them treats. If your dog has special dietary concerns or you just want to know what they are eating (which is always a good idea), be sure to keep an eye out when you’re around other dog parents and set the boundary (nicely!) that treats must be approved by you before they are given to your baby.

  1. Playtime

Pets aren’t just made for cuddling and posing for cute photos (though they are excellent at both). Animals need physical and mental exercise to keep them happy. While there are ways for them to play without you, spending some quality time having fun with your fur babies deepens your bond and strengthens your relationships.

Invest in some toys. They don’t have to be expensive. A few squishy balls and a feather toy for your kitty is perfect and a tennis ball or inexpensive chew toy is great for your pup. And never underestimate how many hours of entertainment can be had with bubbles.

 Just like training, you’ll want to keep this positive, reward good behavior, and have fun!

  1. Common Issues

The issues your pet experiences will likely differ depending on the type of animal you bring home. Dogs are more likely to experience separation anxiety than cats, while cats often show their displeasure through litter box challenges or scratching.

It’s important to note that the more time you spending finding the right pet for your family and spending quality time with them to improve your relationship, the less of these negative behaviors you’re likely to see.

For dogs with separation anxiety, there are a number of things you can try:

  • Leaving an article of your clothing for them to snuggle with while you’re away. Make sure it is an old garment so if they chew on it you won’t be upset.
  • Create a safe space for them to relax while you’re gone. This can be a comfy crate or a separate room with toys and cozy blankets.
  • Using an over-the-counter calming product to relax your pup

For cats that are eliminating outside of the litter box, you’ll want to:

  • Make sure the litter box is accessible
  • Have one litter box per cat
  • Try out different types of litter
  • Keep the litter box as clean as possible, cleaning it at least once daily

If your cats are damaging furniture or possessions with scratching:

  • Purchase multiple scratching posts to keep around the house. Dab a bit of catnip on them to attract your kitty.
  • Trim their nails so they aren’t as sharp and destructive or get nail caps for your kitty so their scratching doesn’t do any damage.

By targeting the behaviors and working to correct them rather than punish your fur baby for their misdeeds, you’ll further improve your relationship.

Developing a strong bond and nurturing a healthy relationship with your pet will make you both happier and healthier. Animals can provide the most amazing companionship and love. With just a little work on your end, you’ll have a loyal friend for their entire life. 

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Pets as gifts.....yes or no?

When it comes to the perfect holiday scene, you may have always envisioned a family in their pajamas, gathered around a sparkling Christmas tree with heaps of presents underneath. As the children tear through the presents, one sits off to the side, the top slowly being nosed off by the tiny puppy inside it.

Yet for years, we’ve heard that you should never give pets as gifts - that the previous scene would be followed by the adorable little puppy being shipped off to the local animal shelter. And for years, we’ve believed that to be true. Should you give pets as gifts? We dive into why it’s not as terrible as you’ve been led to believe.

Should You Give Pets as Gifts

The ASPCA conducted a survey to learn more about what happens when animals are given as gifts. Here’s what they had to say, “In the survey, 96% of  the people who received pets as gifts thought it either increased or had no impact on their love or attachment to that pet. The vast majority of these pets are still in the home (86%). The survey also revealed no difference in attachment based on the gift being a surprise or known in advance.” 

Studies conducted during the 90’s and 2000 found that “pets acquired as gifts are less likely to be relinquished than pets acquired by the individual.” (Patronek, 1996, Scarlett, 1999 New, 1999, New 2000).

You can read more about the ASPCA’s position on pets as gifts here.  

What to Consider When Gifting an Animal

Before you rush off and get a furball for every friend and family member on your list, there are quite a few things to take into consideration.

All gift situations are not created equal. Getting a puppy for your 10-year-old daughter is not the same thing as gifting an animal to a boyfriend or girlfriend you’ve been dating for all of 12 minutes. Take your relationship to the person into account before going down this route.

Do they want an animal? With all luck, you’re saddling this person with a 10-20 year commitment. If they’ve been vocal about not wanting an animal in their life, respect that.

Do they have the means to take care of them? Pets are the best companions in the world, but between food, vet bills, and whatever they destroy during the training period, the costs can add up.

How to Choose the Perfect Animal

Once you’ve determined that a pet would be the perfect gift for your loved one, it’s time to find the right animal. Every pet has their own personality, their own needs, and their own abilities. It’s important to find the right match for your gift recipient.

Adopt. Don’t Shop. There are hundreds of thousands of animals waiting for a good home in shelters and rescues across the country. If you are patient and a little bit flexible, you’re likely to find exactly what you’re looking for… without purchasing a dog or cat from a breeder or even worse, a pet store or backyard breeder. Pet store puppies have come from puppy mills, unhealthy, cruel places that see animals as products, not beloved family members. If you are in Las Vegas, there are a number of rescues and shelters to choose from such as On My Way Home Rescue, Hearts Alive Village Animal Rescue, and The Animal Foundation.

Dog or Cat. While there are a few “bi-petual” people out there, most animal lovers lean towards dogs or cats. Make sure that you are adopting the type of pet your recipient actually wants.

Choose the Right Activity Level and Temperament. Dogs (and even cats) vary widely in how much they want to be active, how much they want to be cuddled, and how much training they are going to need to be the perfect companion. Before you start looking, consider your loved one’s lifestyle. Are they super active or do they prefer to curl up on the couch with a good book or Netflix? Do they want to cuddle all the time, or do they need a more independent companion? Once you’ve got a good picture of their lifestyle, you can speak with adoption counselors to find a good match.

Take the Family and Home into Consideration. Are their small kids? Other pets? Is the home set up like a museum that wouldn’t handle a rambunctious puppy well?

Do Not Replace an Older Animal. This is so important that we’re going to say it again. Do not replace an older animal. If you are adopting a puppy or kitten, that’s wonderful. However, whatever pet(s) is currently in the home has the right to live out his days in comfort and love, and the owners have the responsibility to provide a wonderful life until the animal’s very last day.

Don’t Forget the Treats! What’s a new pet without healthy snacks? Once you’ve picked out the perfect pup, stop in to Mooch’s Munchies,  a health-conscious pet store, for some healthy, all-natural dog and cat treats, food and toys. We’ve got holiday-themed treats like Gingerbread men as well as our year-round standbys like peanut butter cookies.

If you’ve got someone in your life who wants a pet more than anything, and who has the ability to take care of them, go ahead and gift them one! When you adopt a dog or cat from a rescue or shelter, you’ll not only be making holiday wishes come true for your loved one, but for the animal as well.

Last minute Christmas ideas

Christmas is right around the corner and if you’re like us… you haven’t finished all your shopping just yet. There are always those difficult-to-buy for friends and family members. What exactly do you get the person that has everything? On top of that, with the world at a near standstill, we just don’t “need” as much as we used to.

Luckily, if you’re shopping for a pet parent, there are oodles of gifts you can buy. Whether they provide a home for dogs, cats, or an exotic pet like a guinea pig that speaks French, there’s always something that could make their life easier. Fortunately, you can also help support a local business in the meantime.  Our links are local to Vegas, but you can always find similar businesses in your local area.

Top 7 Gifts for Pet Parents

Poop Scooping Services

Let’s face it… poop happens. And we’ve yet to meet one pet parent who’s excited about picking it up. Imagine gifting your friends or family with a clean backyard! Call Oh Crap and let them send their pick up artists to provide a poop-free existence for your loved one.

Pet Sitting Services

Someday, the world will start again and we’ll be free to roam around the countryside. When that happens, your pet-loving friends and family will need to leave their babies with someone they trust. Consider getting a gift certificate from your favorite pet sitter or Doggy Day Care facility. If they live in the Henderson area, consider Melissa’s Pet Sitting.  For the Summerlin area, try Lil Rascal’s Pet Sitting at (609)457-0400. Looking for doggy daycare or a resort experience? Check out Las Vegas Dog Resort.


Nothing beats the joy of watching a pup chow down on healthy, natural dog treats. Mooch’s Munchies is a Las Vegas Dog Treat Bakery with delicious snacks any pet parent would be proud to feed their pups. In addition to our usual yumminess, we’ve got special holiday treats such as Gingerbread Men, Peanut Butter Candy Cane Cookies, and Personal Pounds - a private reserve with the pet’s name on it! Select from pumpkin, gingerbread, or peanut butter flavor. (Not in Las Vegas? We can ship!)

A Grooming Gift Certificate

Some people enjoy washing and grooming their pets… other people would prefer to not chase a soggy, sudsy, snarling pooch around the house. For those people, why not send their pet for a “spaw” experience? Big Foot Pet Grooming is an affordable option in Las Vegas and they do a furnomenal job!

Training Classes

Okay, you probably don’t want to tell your friends and family that their pets have horrible manners, but you could send them to learn fun sniffing games, take fitness classes, or learn boredom busters to get out of the quarantine rut. Impetus Animal Training offers classes, private training, and virtual courses to keep everyone safe and engaged. 

A Photo Shoot

It’s time to strike a paws! Pet parents can’t get enough pictures of their 4-legged fur babies. Gift a photo session just for the pets or for the whole family and create a memory that will last a lifetime. Rockstar Dogs will make your pets look like… well… rockstars.

Donate to a Rescue in their Name

Sometimes, your friend or family member really does have everything… and so do their pets. There are plenty of less-fortunate animals out there who are currently looking for a home. Consider making a donation to your friend’s favorite rescue. We love On My Way Home because that’s where we got our Mooch from!

Considering a gift for the wanna-be pet parent in your life? Read our next blog on why you should or shouldn’t give a pet as a gift.

The paw-lidays are a special time to celebrate with our furry loved ones. One of these gifts for the pet parent in your life will help that have a season filled with holiday cheer.

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