10 Ways to Bring Your Rescue Pet Back to Life
Rescue pets cannot tell us what they have suffered, but we can help them learn to love, trust and enjoy life again.Editor's Note: March 15, 2011 is Petfinder's Adopt the Internet Day. In honor of Petfinder's 15th birthday, we're hoping all of our readers will pledge to spread the word online about adoptable pets. Read on for inspiration, and visit Petfinder.com to learn more.
Rescue pets cannot tell us what they have suffered, the tragedies they have lived through or the emotional burdens they continue to bear, but what is not said with words is often expressed through behavior. Withdrawal, a tendency to hide, trembling and shaking, anxiety, lethargy, a lack of appetite, and timidity are all signs that your rescue needs your help to learn how to love, trust and enjoy life again.
Here are 10 ways to show her how:
1. Schedule a Complete Veterinarian Check-Up
Parasitic infestations, ear infections, pain associated with arthritis and other types of unresolved illnesses can cause signs which may be confused with the effects of emotional trauma. Before you begin with behavioral remedies, start with a complete veterinarian check-up to make sure your rescue has no medical issues which could be contributing to distressful behaviors.
2. Create a Safe Place
Rescues battling with anxiety and fear need to know that they have a safe place to go when they are overwhelmed. Once a rescue picks out a preferred safe place in the home, always be respectful of your pet's need for privacy and quiet.
3. Socialize with Care
To learn how to trust people and even other animals again, rescues need to be socialized - but for fearful rescues, socialization should be carried out in baby steps. Work on developing a strong bond with your rescue first, and then start the socialization process with other people and, if necessary, with other animals through introductions in controlled and calm environments.
4. Pour on the Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement rewards good behavior and redirects (or distracts from) bad behavior. Whenever your rescue takes a step in the right direction, pour on the verbal praise, physical affection and once in a while follow up with a treat.
5. Introduce Play
Play is one of the best methods you can use to bring your rescue back to life. Attempts at play may be rebuffed at first, but keep it at. Acquire a collection of different types of toys and try to interest your rescue in play at least a few times throughout the day.
6. Soothe with Oodles of Affection
A healing touch can help your rescue to improve by leaps and bounds. Whenever your rescue is ready for physical affection, take time out for a cuddle. As soon as a strong bond of trust if formed, try to reduce your pet's anxiety through soothing pet massages.
7. Develop a Routine
A routine will help rescues to feel confident and secure in their new home. Set up a schedule immediately, especially for mealtimes and walks, and then stick to it.
8. Tempt with Treats
Treats in moderation can be helpful if your rescue is too fearful or timid to take those first brave steps back into the world. Once a rescue begins to associate you with tasty tidbits, affectionate interactions and a willingness to play will be soon to follow.
9. Medicate Only When Absolutely Necessary
If your rescue is not responding to any of your efforts, and is having severe difficulties coping, a veterinarian prescribed anxiety or anti-depressant medication may help. However, these types of medications should only be used for a short time.
10. Show Your Rescue a Beautiful World
A little fresh air can do wonders for a rescue. Help your rescue rediscover the joys of life, and the beauty of the world, with outdoors time through quiet walks, a window seat by an open screened in window (for indoor rescue kitties), or just an afternoon hanging out on the patio together.