You’ve just brought home your new pet from a local shelter and you’re really excited for the new family addition. As exciting of a time this is for you, it may be a little overwhelming to your new furry friend. Remember: this is a new home for your pet and moving is never easy.
There are a lot of things you can do to ensure your pet is happy, safe, and feels right at home. You’ve likely thought of the basics (toys, a bed, and food and water bowls) but there are a variety of smaller things you can do to help your pet acclimate and feel comfortable.
- Pet-Proof the House
Just like toddlers, pets can be curious and unintentionally destructive. It’s important to take the time to pet-proof your house before you bring your new pet home. If there are breakables you’re concerned about, move them so that you don’t lose something valuable and your pet doesn’t get hurt by a piece of glass. Consider pet gates to keep cats and dogs out of rooms with hazardous items, and try to always make sure any door to the exterior is securely closed so your pet can’t escape (especially since they won’t know their way home quite yet).
- Be Present to Ease Anxiety
If your pet was recently brought home, chances are they don’t want to be left alone all day. Eventually, you’ll be able to go to and from work with no problem, but be prepared to stay home for the first few days to help ease separation anxiety and create a bond with your pet. You can also use this time to help your pet get acclimated to its surroundings. If you really can’t take off work, try to get a friend or family member to come over during the day to play with your pet and let them out. You could also consider hiring a dog walker or pet sitter for part of the day to ease any stress and anxiety.
- Create a Space Just for Your Pet
You don’t need to necessarily give your pet its own bedroom, but you should designate a space in your home for them to retreat to when they’re overwhelmed or tired. According to House Method, this can be a corner in the living area, or somewhere a little quieter (depending on what your pet likes). Regardless of the space, make it cozy with a bed, blankets, and a couple of toys. This will help your pet feel like it has a place in its new home and assure that this situation is permanent and not temporary.
- Introduce Your Rescue to Fellow Pets and Family Members
As excited as you are about bringing home your rescue, your kids, family members, and/or other pets may need a little time to get adjusted. Take the time to introduce your new addition to the rest of the family individually. Everyone will adjust a lot better if they know each other well.
- Load Up On Treats
This isn’t a long-term practice, but during the first week or so give your pet lots of treats when it does something right (like going to the bathroom, getting in its crate without a fight, etc). This will make it feel extra special and encourage good behavior.
- Show Your Pet Its Bathroom
As soon as you bring your pet home, one of the first things you should do is show them where they should go to the bathroom (whether that’s outside, a litter box, or a puppy pad for training). This will not only put your pet at ease, but it will also help you get it trained quicker. If your dog/cat successfully goes, be sure to make a big deal out of it and give positive reinforcement through treats and petting so it continues to repeat this routine.
- Stay In Touch With Your Vet
Before you bring your new pet home, you should have an appointment scheduled with a vet to have it checked out. After that initial appointment, be sure to keep an open line of communication with them so that you can ask any questions about your pet’s care or any odd behaviors you’re concerned about. It can be common for rescues to get sick in their first few weeks at home (especially if they’re a puppy), so having an established relationship with a vet is essential.
Eventually, there will come a day where you can’t remember what your life was like before you brought your sweet rescue home. Making your pet comfortable and helping it adjust to its new house will help you get to that point even faster.