What to Do Before and After You Bring Your New Pet Home
Bringing a new pet into your home is both a challenging and rewarding experience that can be made easier if you prepare yourself first for what to expect.
Now that you’ve picked out your pet, whether it’s a dog, cat or something more exotic, and you’ve made the appointment to pick up your furry friend, arm yourself with knowledge of what to do before and after so you’ll become the best pet parent ever.
Here are some things you need to get ready before you bring them home:
- Figure out which area/room is theirs: Even if you plan to let them wander around the house eventually, there’s going to be an area that’s predominantly theirs. This is especially useful early on, as introducing them slowly helps keep them from getting overwhelmed at the start.
- Set up everything they need: Pets need a lot of supplies, and you want to make sure you have it all ahead of time. Make sure you have food and water bowls, food, beds, toys, collars, a litter box, scratching post, and anything else they’re going to need before they move in.
- Pet-proof the area: There are a lot of things you don’t want to leave around for your pets to get into. Wherever they’re going to stay, make sure that they can’t get into anything either dangerous (electrical cords, cleaning supplies, foods like chocolate) or that would make a really large mess (plants, shoes or clothes, trash cans). Crawl around on the floor, getting an idea of what they see from that perspective, to help see what might be a problem.
- Register with a vet and arrange for a microchip and ID tag: You’re going to want to take them to the vet as soon as possible, so finding a vet ahead of time will let you get there sooner. You also want to make arrangement to get them microchipped and get ID tags immediately – they’re most likely to run off or escape when in an unfamiliar, scary situation, which moving to a new home is from their perspective.
- Schedule picking them up for the morning on a weekend or day off: If you can, you want to bring them home early and spend the entire day helping them get used to their new environment.
There’s a lot to do while picking up and bringing them home. Here are a few things to know:
- Find out their feeding/walking schedule: Talk to the shelter and find out what they’re already doing. You want as much to be familiar as possible, and being consistent with the way they were fed (and walked, for dogs) will add to the familiarity.
- Secure them safely in the car: Part of bringing them home is actually getting them home. Make sure you have the proper carrier, and that it’s secured in the car, both for their safety and your peace of mind.
- Take them straight to their area: When you get home, go with them straight to where they’re going to spend most of their time. If you let them run around the apartment as soon as you get back, it can set a bad precedent for training them later on.
Now it’s time to bring home your pet and introduce him to his new environment – your home.
- Let them get used to the place one room at a time: Trying to take in the entire place all at once can be a lot of stress to handle. Keeping them in one room at first, slowly adding one room at a time, helps to keep down their stress and makes the training process easier to control.
- Spend a lot of time with them: Being there to comfort them and help get used to the new environment is crucial. Spend as much time as you can with them in the early days, as you help them get used to their new home.
- Follow their existing feeding/walking schedule: This is one of the best things that you can do to make their new home feel as familiar as possible. The stress of moving also can cause a lot of stomach issues, so there’s even more risk in changing anything about their diet.
- Set boundaries early: The things you do early are hard to correct later, so start more strictly. Don’t just hand your pet anything to play with if it’s not specifically a toy and avoid letting them take control of the situation. The more consistent you are with them, the easier of a time you’ll have later.
- Introduce them to your other pets early: If you already have other pets, you need to find out early if there’s any kind of conflict. Them not getting along right away doesn’t mean they never will, but you’re disrupting both of their lives, so start early and give them both some time to get used to their now housemate.
- Be realistic and patient: You’re not going to get a miracle pet who’s perfectly behaved right away. This is going to take some time, so don’t expect to leave them completely unattended the first day. Every time you get frustrated, just remind yourself that it takes time to get used to a new place, and that yelling at them or other violent reactions won’t help over the long term.
Above all, enjoy your new pet!
Photo credit: Shutterstock / Oksana Kuzmina