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The Best Ways To Bond With a Newly Adopted Pet

written by Ellie Walker

There are few things more exciting than bringing home a new four-legged family member. This new addition is going to be part of your family for years to come, so we know how important it is for you to create a strong bond from day one. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the best ways to bond with a new pet – and spoiler, it involves food!

Get some insight from the foster parent or shelter staff

If possible, schedule some time to chat with your pet’s foster parent or a staff member from the shelter where they were adopted who knows them well. During this call, you can ask them questions about your pet’s personality, preferences, or anything else you might want to know. Some of these questions could include:

  • Do they have a favorite toy or game?

  • Do they have any general likes or dislikes?

  • Do they already know any commands or tricks?

Knowing the answers to these and other questions will give you a great starting point for how you can create opportunities to bond with your new pet.

Figure out what type of food they like most

The food your pet eats has an impact on their overall health, but it can also be used as a tool to help strengthen the bond you have with your new pet. This is especially true if you have a food-motivated pet who loves nothing more than a tasty treat! To maximize the impact of your pet’s food, you first want to figure out what type of food they like the most.

A fun way to do this is by creating a “tasting menu” for your pet to try. Simply select a few different types of food that vary in format and ingredients and offer them to your pet one at a time. For example, this tasting menu could include:

Watch to see how they react to each portion and at the end, you’ll likely see that they have a preference for one or two over the others. You can then offer these as their primary recipes as well as use them as high-value treats throughout the day or when training.

Try lots of new things

If you cannot speak to a foster parent or shelter staff, then the next best way to get to know your pet is by trying lots of new things with them. The more things you experience together, the quicker you’ll begin to see how they respond to different situations and whether certain things – such as toys, food, or games – stand out as winners.

To be environmentally (and financially) responsible, instead of buying a bunch of brand-new things, try asking other pet parents about their fur baby's favorite toys and games. You could even ask if they’d be willing to lend you them for a few hours to see how your pet enjoys them. If they end up being a winner then it makes sense to invest in one for your pet, and if not, on to the next thing!

Add little bonding moments into your daily routine

Once you have a better idea of your new pet’s preferences, look for ways that you can incorporate them into your daily routine. For instance, your average weekday could look something like this:

  • Serve them their favorite Freshpet recipe for breakfast

  • Go for a walk around the neighborhood, with a pocket full of Freshpet treats to reward their good behavior

  • Spend a dedicated part of your lunch break playing with their favorite toy

  • Give them a Kong filled with healthy human foods, such as carrots, to encourage some independent afternoon play by your workspace

  • After work, spend some time practicing new tricks and commands, rewarding your pet’s progress with treats and praise

  • Wrap up the day with an extended walk or play session so they end their day with some one-on-one time with you

Creating these little moments throughout the day where you can bond with your new pet is a great way to help you form a strong relationship.

Embrace positive reinforcement training

Training shouldn’t be approached with a “finish line” mindset. Instead, it should be thought of as a lifelong journey for you and your pet. Through positive reinforcement training, you and your dog will improve how you communicate and cooperate with each other. Not only will this strengthen your bond, but it is also proven to increase your pet’s confidence and reduce their feelings of anxiety, especially in new situations.

If you’re still in the early stages of your adoption journey, we also recommend taking a look at our tips on ways you can start preparing for the arrival of your new addition. And as always, if you have more ideas of ways to bond with a newly adopted pet, leave them in the comments for other pet parents to read!

A person holding a black and white dog reaching for a Freshpet recipe.

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