Bringing Home Your Fur Baby
It’s official! You finally have the go-ahead to take your new fur baby home. The only thing left to do is get the pad prepped and ready for their arrival … and figure out what to do once they’re there. It’s easy to get lost in the excitement and craziness of selecting your pet, but the process of preparing the household for its new resident is an equally important and thrilling task.
The question is … How do you do that?
Before you can even think about how to acclimate your new companion to the house, you have to make sure the house is ready for them. There are key elements to the household that you should take into consideration before your dog or cat sets paw inside:
Pet-Proofing the House
Getting the house ready for a new pet is similar to how you would get it ready for a new baby. There are many potential hazards just laying around the house. And if you don’t put them in their rightful place, your pet’s curiosity will lead them straight to it.
Firstly, stow away anything that should be kept out of reach from your dog or cat. This especially refers to toxic foods that their body can’t handle, such as chocolate, grapes, raisins, gum, etc. This also includes any medications. Pets are not meant to ingest human medication, especially since our bodies require different nutrients and different levels of those nutrients. Be aware of products with harmful chemicals - especially the new cleaning supplies you likely picked up, or perhaps any repellents or traps. Be on the lookout for uncovered electrical outlets, children’s toys laying around, open fireplaces, lit candles, etc. These all have the potential to harm your pet, whether your furry friend accidentally ingests it or paws at it. Last but not least, take another look at your decorations. The neighbors might love to see the seasonal Christmas tinsel or Halloween spiders scattered about, but these can be just as dangerous to your pet’s safety as small toys or toxic food laying around. Choose pet-friendly decoration as often as possible, and display it where your pet can’t get to it.
Once the house has been tidied up of any hidden dangers, start setting up any needed gates. There may be parts of the home that you don’t want to give your pet access to, such as the upstairs, an office, or the kitchen. By setting up gates, you can prevent your pet from entering those places and instead keep them limited to a safer, more suitable area where you allow them to roam.
Now that the house is free from dangers and has gates set in place, don’t forget about all the other necessary supplies. Before your pet comes, make sure all the essentials are ready to go:
- Premium food, treats, & water
- Bowls or dishes
- Toys *Chew toys will be especially useful for when puppies begin to teethe.
- Pee pads / litter supplies
- Grooming supplies
- Collar, harness, leash
- ID tag
Setting Up Their Space
Your pet may be allowed in most or many parts of the house, but they’ll still need a space to call their own. This is true for both cats and dogs, but especially dogs since they are den animals. They would very much benefit from having a designated space that they can retreat to for rest, sleep, relaxation, or just a way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the household.
Many different options can serve this purpose. Invest in a good crate, pet bed, or even a pen. Make it as comfy, cozy, and welcoming as possible. Just a blanket, a few toys, or even your worn T-Shirts can make the environment more inviting for your pup or kitten.
Once all is in place, your pet should be ready to enter your humble abode. For a smooth and successful introduction, there are just a few finishing steps to keep in mind:
Your new pup or kitten may be generating a lot of buzz from your neighbors, family, and friends. They all might be waiting to visit and be there for the moment Fido or Mittens steps paw into the house. But puppies and kittens get easily overwhelmed. They need time to adjust to the new environment, sights, smells, and people. So it’s best not to have too many people around for their arrival, especially if they aren’t usually in the house on a day to day basis.
For the residents that are there, ask them to remain as calm as possible when the pet arrives. Ask them not to crowd, hover, or do anything to possibly overwhelm them. It’s better for each member of the house to meet the puppy slowly, quietly, and if possible, individually. It’s especially important to supervise the meeting of your pet with any other resident pets or children. You never know which direction the interaction may go in, so it’s best to keep a close eye on it.
Here comes the fun part! Give your pet a tour of their new house! Allow them to roam about the different rooms, backyard, and especially their designated areas for rest and sleep. Give them a few minutes for each room, but keep in mind that this is one of your first opportunities to show them who’s boss. Keep them by your side and be the one to lead them into new and different places. Also use this as a time to observe your pet’s behavior, such as if they seem extra curious, possibly troublesome, or if anything particular peeks their interest. This initial tour might give you a sense of extra things that need to be moved around, hidden, or put out of your pet’s reach.
Establish a RoutineThe first few days, and even weeks, of bringing your pet home will surely cause a lot of excitement and trials in the house. It may take time to establish a routine that best fits your lifestyle and pet’s preferences, but it’s best to start developing one early on. Now is the time to start enforcing rules, such as what parts of the house are off limits, where and when they’ll use the bathroom, when and where they’ll eat, whether or not they’re allowed on furniture, etc. Most of these restrictions and rules require training. Train them not only to learn and obey your preferences, but also teach them basic tricks, especially if they’re a dog! Teach them on your own or enroll them in obedience classes. While the saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” isn’t necessarily true, it is true in the way that it’s much easier to teach tricks while your pet is still young. Commands such as “Sit,” “Stay,” “Down,” “Off,” etc will be very useful for you and your pet’s safety and comfort. And by establishing a routine early on, you’re paving the way for a lifelong relationship of trust and love between you and your new companion.