Bringing a new pet home is an exciting and memorable time. To make the transition as smooth as possible, be sure to prepare for your pet’s arrival ahead of time 🐾❤️
Get all the essentials before you bring your new pet home so that once they arrive you can spend your time playing and bonding with them to build trust and make them feel comfortable.
Always be patient. Your pet has to get used to you and its new environment. If there are other pets in your home the pet has to get used to (and ideally get along with) your other pets as well. Your other pets also have to get used to their new friend so it’s important to be patient and give both sides some time.
Don’t rush introductions. This is true when introducing yourself or introducing different pets to each other. Give your new pet some time and space to start feeling comfortable. Some pets adjust to a new home quickly and some take time. This is perfectly normal.
Make your new pet feel comfortable by offering them treats and toys. Some pets will be happy to walk up to you and gobble up their treats while others may just sit and eye you from a distance. Never force a pet to interact with you by picking it up or putting it in your lap. Let it explore its surroundings and come to you in its own time. Just be sure to sit in the same room so your pet can get used to your presence and learn that there’s nothing to feel scared about. Preferably sit on the floor so you aren’t towering over your pet and are closer to its level.
Let your pet get used to one room or area in the house first. Make sure there are no escape routes. Keep your pet’s things in one place until you are sure he or she is used to you and will respond when you call. Don’t let your pet wander in the whole house as soon as you bring it home because it might feel frightened and hide somewhere that’s difficult to get out of. Pets are very good at fitting into and getting stuck in places we don’t know even exist. It can be hours before they cry for help so avoid all that stress by keeping them safe and comfortable in one room.
Introducing Other Pets and Children
When introducing your new pet to your existing pets, be sure to keep them apart (either on different sides of a door in the case of cats or on leashes in the case of dogs). Only open the door or unleash both pets when you are fairly certain they will not attack each other. In the beginning always make sure you are present when you do this. Make introductions easier by feeding pets at a distance from each other in the same room or by giving them treats or by playing with them close to each other for the first few days. It is better to take things slowly and make sure your pets will tolerate each other (even if they aren’t best buddies in the beginning) than rushing and causing a fight.
Be careful when introducing your new pet to young children. Finding themselves in a new place with new people can be stressful for pets. Young children sometimes don’t understand how to handle pets and can be over enthusiastic. This can make some pets panic and feel threatened as they don’t know how to deal with young children’s over excited behaviour.
Talk to any young children in the house before bringing your new pet home so its arrival doesn’t come as a surprise (or shock). Use a soft toy to show your child how to properly pet and stroke their new friend (e.g. always stroke in the same direction as fur growth, and never pull fur or any other body part). Explain that loud noises like screaming or yelling will scare the pet so if they want to be friends they have to be quiet and gentle. Be present when your child and pet are together so you can guide them and correct any behaviour that’s undesirable.
If a child is very young (e.g. toddlers) then it’s best to keep both separated when you are not present in the same room. Don’t leave a toddler alone and unsupervised with a new pet. Use safety gates to keep them apart if you have to until the child is older and can understand how to deal with pets.
Welcome your pet home by setting up a place with all his/her things beforehand. Your pet should have a space where it can stay comfortably while getting used to its new environment. The area doesn’t have to be large but needs to be spacious enough to accommodate your pet and all his/her things. Make sure the place isn’t too cold or too hot. If it’s uncomfortable for you it’s going to be uncomfortable for your pet too!
Your pet needs a food and water bowl. There are lots of options available in terms of not just colours and sizes but also materials (e.g. plastic, glass, ceramic, stainless steel etc). There are elevated bowls (for dogs with long ears for example) and bowls that help slow down how fast your pet eats (for overweight pets or pets who have certain digestive issues). You can also get feeders and automatic food and water dispensers. Some pets prefer glass over plastic and some like stainless steel. Some are perfectly happy with anything. Until you get to know your pet and his/her eating habits better, it’s best to stick to something simple that you can later replace if needed.
Your pet should have a warm (but not hot) and cozy place to sleep in. This could be a soft plush bed or a cozy cat tree or cat cube (for cats). Some pets (usually cats) like to sleep on surfaces that are higher up. Some pets like sleeping on a bed or thick mattress on the ground. Provide a cozy blanket for your pet to snuggle in as this can be a source of comfort for some pets. Dogs and puppies will need a crate if you plan on crate training so make sure the crate is large enough for a comfy mattress and other things they might need.
For cats, you’ll need a litter tray, litter liner, cat litter, litter scoop, and litter deodorizer (to keep litter fresh for longer). There are different types of cat litter. There is clay based litter, bentonite, crystals, eco-friendly litter (made of soya bean for example) and more. Cat litter can be scented or non-scented and is clumping or non-clumping. If you’re not sure which to get, ask a cat owner you know for advice or read up a little on different types of cat litter and their benefits. Most cat litters now are dust-free (or almost dust-free) and these are better for your kitty and you. You’ll have to scoop your kitty’s litter daily to remove clumps of waste (in clumping litter) or to remove solid waste from non-clumping litter. Frequency of changing your cat’s litter and disinfection of its litter tray depends on usage and on the type of litter being used. If you’re bringing home a kitten and aren’t sure if it’s fully litter trained, add litter attractant when setting up the litter tray and every time you change the litter for a few times after that.
For dogs, always have doggy poo bags handy to pick up any messes (inside or outside the home). If you’re bringing home a puppy, you’ll have to train it to go to the toilet on its training pads. Some pet owners prefer using artificial grass/turf to training pads. They believe it’s a more natural way to train puppies for when they’ll have to go outside. For both dogs and cats make sure to have pet friendly cleaning supplies, wet wipes, and kitchen towels at hand for any accidents or spills. Pet cleaning products have strong odour neutralizers and some have enzymes that specifically break down waste material so they are more effective and safe than household cleaners. Using a pet friendly air freshener or odour absorber (placed somewhere your pet can’t reach) helps keep smells to a minimum.
Pet grooming wipes or pet deodorizer are a great way to keep your pet fresh in-between trips to the groomer. Face, ear, eye, and even tooth wipes are available if you need. Some pets get a build up in their ears and need regular ear cleaning to keep their ears infection free. Always wipe your pets ears dry after cleaning as any moisture left can lead to infections. A soft brush or slicker can be useful for keeping your pet’s fur tangle free especially if your pet is long haired. Pets with knotted fur are difficult to groom and mats can be quite uncomfortable. Regular brushing is a good way to ensure your pet’s fur stays tangle free. It can also be a good bonding experience as most pets tend to enjoy being brushed. For cats, a cat tree or scratcher is a good way to keep claws trim. It encourages their natural scratching instinct to be focused on the correct objects (instead of your furniture and belongings). Use a little catnip or spray that acts an attractant to lure your cat to its scratching place, toys, and even bed. Dogs, cats, and rabbits can have their nails cut using pet nail clippers but you have to be very careful to avoid the blood vessels close to the nails. Some pets have dark nails so these are not always visible. Until you’re sure you can do this, getting them cut by a professional is a safe option.
Toys and Treats
Keeping your pet mentally stimulated and active all year round is important to keep them in shape and for their general wellbeing. Playing with your pet can be a great bonding experience and create positive memories for you both. Using treats (in moderation) to reinforce good behaviour or during training can be very effective as well. It may take some time to learn what type of toys your pet likes best but you can provide the basics like a ball, a chew toy, and a plush toy or chasing wand. Leave your pet’s toys in its area so it can play with them even when alone.
Dogs and puppies need collars, leashes, harnesses (optional) and ID tags. Cats need collars and ID tags if they go outdoors. You can always put a collar on your kitty even if she’s an indoor cat and train her to walk on a harness but for cats these tend to be optional. Dogs however have to learn how to walk properly on a leash and have to be leashed in public (other than in areas where they are allowed to go off leash).
Bringing home a new pet is always an adventure – for both of you. Being prepared in advance means you’ll avoid last minute rushing to find things you need. Once all the prep is done, relax and enjoy the experience of spending time and bonding with your new pet 🐰🐱🐶