Cat and Dog House Rules
Before bringing a new pet into your household, it's a great idea to sit down with your family and decide on the "house rules" for the pets and people. If the rules change after you get a pet, it's confusing for your pet and the people in your household. If you have a pet that currently "rules" your home, you can still teach your dog or cat new house rules as long as everyone is consistent with them.
Plan a meeting to talk about rules and make sure everyone is on board with them. Here are a few ideas of some rules you may want to discuss at your family get together.
Is your pet going to be allowed on the furniture? There are pros and cons to doing this. Many of us love a nice warm puppy next to us as we watch TV, or a cat curled up in our lap. But, there is no doubt that you'll end up with pet hair, drool, and dirt on your furniture. You can keep your pet super clean (hard), or keep your buddy off of the furniture (not that much fun), train your pet that she can only be on her blanket on the furniture (requires a little training but it's too hard), or you could order a few inexpensive blankets from Amazon and cover the furniture. Some people opt to let their pet on the furniture with no boundaries and clean the furniture now and then.
Will jumping be tolerated? This is by far easier to enforce if you decide on it before she begins jumping on you. You might decide on this issue based on the size of your pet. Not much harm is done when a 10-pound dog jumps up. But when your 70-pound dog jumps, it's an entirely different story. Most visitors won't mind if a cat leaps up to say hello!
Begging or feeding at the table; yay or nay? If you don't feed your pet from the table, they probably won't start begging, which can be annoying and dangerous if they start "table-surfing".
How much barking will be tolerated? First, keep in mind that barking is a natural behavior for dogs. They often bark when someone unexpected is on the property or at the door. So, it's a good idea not to have any punishment if your dog barks. Many people train their dogs to quiet down to limit excess barking. Cat purring is always acceptable!
Will you allow your furniture to be a scratching post? We don't know anyone who encourages this kitty behavior, but many people feel it is natural for a cat and they are correct; scratching is natural. But you can, especially if you start when they are kittens, teach them where to scratch.
Other house rules you may want to consider are where she goes to do "her business" (some small dogs are allowed to go on potty pads inside), drinking out of the toilet, chewing, sleeping arrangements, cleaning up, changing water, feeding, cleaning the litter box, walking, and if your pet will be allowed to eat people food.
Your family members may have completely different ideas, so it is important to establish these early and as a group.
Schedule a family meeting, have everyone brainstorm about what rules will work in your household, and be sure everyone agrees. Your entire household will be happier!