Preparing your Family and Home for a New Pet

March 25, 2014 by Rite Rug, Capital Area Humane Society

So you’ve said “Yes” to adopting a new furry family member – now what? Here are 12 tips to help make the transition into your home as smooth as possible! 

♦ Logistics.  Where is the new pet going to eat, sleep and potty?  Who in your household will be taking the lead on pet chores?

♦ House rules.  Decide what rooms of the house your pets will have access to during these first days, and think about what needs to be done to keep your pet safe.  This could mean taping down electrical cords, relocating breakable objects and eliminating any plants or materials that would be toxic if consumed.  Going forward, is your new pet allowed on the furniture?  What about bedrooms?

♦ Make a list of supplies you will need to keep your pet happy and healthy.  Purchase what you need for the first week or so, recognizing that you may change your mind about size/type of feeding dish, litter box, etc. after spending time with your new family member.  Our Bells & Whiskers retail store has everything you need to get started. 

♦ Call and make a veterinarian appointment so your pet can be seen for a checkup within 48 hours of coming home.  If your pet hasn’t already been micro chipped, think about having it done at this appointment.  Ask your veterinarian for a referral to an after-hours/emergency veterinarian in case of sudden illness or injury.

♦ Find out what your pet is presently eating, as well as the quantity and schedule.  You will want to keep things as normal as possible the first few days to avoid a pet with an upset tummy.  If you are going to change brands of food, mix one part new to three parts old to start with and gradually increase the ratio of new food to old over the next week.

♦ Be sure your pet is wearing a collar with id tags that include your phone number.  There is a higher risk of your pet accidentally going missing during these first days in your home.  A phone number is the quickest way for the neighbors to help your pet find its way home. 

♦ If your dog is going to have free access to a fenced-in yard for recreation, make sure your fence and gate are tunnel-proof, jump-proof and free of sharp edges.  Make sure your landscaping and lawn maintenance plans don’t include plants or treatments that are toxic to pets.  Plan on monitoring your pet in your yard.  If you are going to put them outside for extended periods of time they will need access to appropriate shelter, food and water.  Your pet is safest in a crate in your home while you are away.

♦ Have your pet’s crate/bed set up before you bring them into the home.  At the Capital Area Humane Society, we suggest taking a piece of bedding home with your new cat so they will have something that smells like them to help scent mark their new safe place.  Indoor-only pet cats live longer, healthier lives.

♦ Show cats their litter box as soon as possible.  Take dogs outside and show them where you want them to do their business.  Reward him/her when they go.  It is helpful to return to the same spot each time so your pet knows what you want them to do.  Likewise, exiting and entering through the same door and using the same words to refer to going outside will provide consistent reinforcement.   Consult your rug/flooring professional to see supplies they recommend to clean up potty accidents in the home.

♦ Pets learn desired behavior through positive reinforcement.  Your children learn how to treat animals based on your actions.  Use a positive reward system and make it clear that yelling, threatening, teasing and punishing are not acceptable ways to interact with your new pet or any animal.

♦ Give your pet time to adjust to your home and your schedule.  Try not to overwhelm your pet with new experiences and attention the first few days.  Let them get used to feeling confident in your home before visiting friends or the dog park.

♦ If you have questions about your pet’s health and/or behavior, consult your veterinarian.  They can refer you to resources in your area.

If you want to spend quality time with your dog learning new skills and reinforcing good manners, consider positive-based behavior training classes!  The Capital Area Humane Society offers classes year-round – see for details. Follow along with the campaign using #PetStarsCbus