Adopting a pet is a big decision, but it’s also very exciting! There is a lot to think about, and it can be a little overwhelming, especially if this is your first pet. Bonding with your new pet is a top priority, but you’ll also want to keep stress levels low to ensure a smooth transition for you, your family, and your new dog or cat. Here’s what needs to be on your to-do list!
1. Gather the Necessary Supplies
Before you bring your new fur baby home, make sure you have everything you need to keep him comfortable and safe. For dogs, you’ll need a collar and leash, a crate with a comfy bed, and possibly a doggy gate to keep him in a certain area while he gets used to his new home.
If you’re adopting a cat, you must bring a carrier for the ride home. You’ll also need a litter box, kitty litter, a cozy bed, and some toys.
Be sure to have an ID tag with your current contact info on your dog’s collar, just in case he gets panicked and escapes on the ride home. If your new pet is microchipped, contact the company and update all contact information. And, of course, make sure you have food and water bowls ready to go, as well as appropriate pet food.
2. Pet-Proof Your Home
Pet proofing your home in advance will save you a lot of stress and help to keep your new family member safe. Start by walking through each room and putting any items that could be dangerous to your new pet out of reach. The same goes for items you don’t want to have chewed up or scratched up.
3. Prepare Your Other Pets
If you have other pets already living in your home, ensure that they’re up to date on all vaccines before you bring your new family member home. Designate a safe place for them to go if they need a break, such as a crate or separate room. Acclimating to a new arrival might be stressful and preparing ahead of time will ease the transition for everyone.
4. Schedule a Checkup for Your Pet
If you are adopting your new pet from a shelter, his vaccinations will probably be brought up to date before you bring him home. Your new pet should be spayed or neutered as soon as possible if that hasn’t been done already.
According to the experts at Bond Vet in NYC, you should also “schedule a checkup for your new pet with your regular vet within a week of bringing him or her home.” This will allow the vet to address any undetected, existing health or dental issues right away. They can also answer any questions you may have about the transition.
5. Create a Safe Place for Your New Pet
Your new pet might need a safe place to retreat to, as well. Dogs are den animals, and many see their crate as their own personal hideaway. If you don’t want to use a crate, use a doggy gate to block off a certain room where he can get away from other pets or kids if he needs a break. It should also be a safe place where he can hang out when you’re out of the home. A room without carpeting is probably best for easy cleanup during the transition process.
6. Plan Ahead for the Best Time to Bring Your New Pet Home
If possible, plan to bring your new dog or cat home at the start of the weekend when you know you’ll have some free time to spend helping him adjust to his new home. You might even want to take a few days off so you can focus on housetraining, especially if you’re getting a new puppy. When you go to pick him up, have someone else drive you so you can reassure him during the drive.
7. Supervise His Explorations
If your new pet is a dog, keep him on a leash while he explores his new surroundings. Walk around the yard and the house and show him where his safe place is, as well as his food, water, and toys. Cats may hide or try to escape in a new place, so it’s best to keep them in a small area while they acclimate. Start by letting your cat explore his safe place first, then introduce him to the rest of the house slowly.
8. Introduce the Rest of the Family
Introduce the rest of the family one at a time, whether they’re people or other pets. Dogs should be kept on leashes so you can keep control of the situation. Interactions with kids and other pets should be supervised until you’re completely confident that everyone is going to get along. Remember to take things slow, some animals are territorial and may not be excited to share their space. Consider introducing dogs outside in neutral territory, if possible. Kids should refrain from kissing or hugging the new pet and stick to gentle petting, sniffs, and doling out treats.
9. Introduce New Food Gradually
Be sure to ask what kind of food your new dog or cat has been eating. If you’ll be switching to different food, be sure to make the switch gradually. If you make the switch too fast, it could cause some digestive issues, especially diarrhea.
10. Establish Boundaries from Day One
It might be tempting to let your new pet do what he wants while he’s settling in, but animals tend to do better when they have boundaries. It’s best to assume that dogs aren’t housebroken until they prove otherwise. Crate training is a great way to ease the transition and housebreak a dog or puppy at the same time. Make sure everyone in the home knows what the rules are to prevent confusion.
Following these steps will help to reduce stress for you, your family, and your new pet as he becomes acclimated to his new home. Bonding with your new pet will happen naturally as you spend time together and helping him feel secure will only strengthen that bond even further.