New Pet Coming Home? Tips and Tricks to Ease the Transition
Whether you have a brand new puppy or kitten, or recently adopted a best friend from the shelter, it’s important to pet-proof your home to provide a safe, happy environment for your new pet. Read on to learn some ways to make your home pet-safe and comfortable when bringing home a new companion.
Have the Right Supplies
Before you bring home any new pet, you want to have the right tools on hand. Most people know to get the basics such as potty training pads, leashes, collars, food bowls, and more. However, you also want to provide interactive toys, high-value treats, and ways to keep your pet contained to a new area of the house. Purchasing a few baby gates or an X-pen can help you gradually increase the space available to them. Treats are useful to entice your pet to check out new situations and to reward good behavior. Interactive toys can reduce boredom and anxiety by letting your pet focus on the toy rather than outside stimulus.
Block Off Pet-Safe Areas
A new home can be an exciting, and somewhat terrifying situation for your pet. Letting them have the run of the full house can lead to disasters such as accidents or destructive chewing. When you bring home a new pet, get them settled in by dedicating a room for them, such as a bedroom or bathroom. Or, block off easy to clean areas of the house, such as a kitchen or laundry room, until your pet is more reliable with potty training.
As your pet settles in, you can open up more areas of the house to them. Block off additional space with the use of X-pens, baby gates, and more. For new dogs, using the “tether” method of keeping them on a leash attached to your waist is effective. It can help you keep an eye on your puppy or adult dog as they explore while being able to catch any accidents. If your pet seems overwhelmed by too much space at once, bringing them back to their original space and giving them some more time to settle in can help reduce anxiety and destructive behaviors.
If you have a room with sensitive equipment, expensive shoes, or breakable items, keep those rooms off-limits, or place the items out of your pet’s reach. By preventing their ability to get to these items in the first place, you can ensure they aren’t accidentally broken.
Slowly Introduce New Pets and People
So, why do you want to take introductions slowly? You want to make sure your new pet is comfortable in any new situation. By letting your pet take it slow, and removing them from a situation if it becomes too stressful, you can teach them that it’s ok to take time to settle in. It also teaches them that there isn’t a need to be fearful if they know they can leave the situation at any time. This can help keep your pet from becoming too overstimulated or stressed out which may lead to a bite or scratch.
Let your old pets sniff a new pet through a closed door, or through a baby gate to get used to each other before a face-to-face introduction. When you’re introducing a new cat, be sure to provide a perch or high-up place they can escape to. If you’re introducing a new dog, keeping them on a leash can help you step in if things become too tense. If at any time your old or new pets become stressed out, agitated, or show signs of distress such as avoidance, whining, growling, hackling, or stiff bodies, taking a break and separating the pets for a time is best. Once everyone has calmed down, attempt an introduction again.
For new people, let your pet approach them. You can have the person offer a treat by tossing it near your new pet, or by holding it out without interacting. If your pet is receptive to the new person, let them interact with more treats or through a petting session. If your pet seems too stressed out, stopping the interaction and letting your pet settle down is best before trying again.
Gradually Introduce New Items in Your Home
If your pet is fearful of an object in your house, you can gradually introduce them to it by letting them explore the object on their own. If it’s something like a noisy vacuum or TV, let them check it out with it turned off completely first. Placing treats around the object can also encourage exploration. You can then turn it on when your pet is a safe distance away to let them observe. Toss them treats if they show continued interest. If your pet is too afraid of the object, move them to a high perch or a safe room away from it to calm down before trying again.
Provide Enrichment and Training
All of the above steps are obvious training techniques you can use when introducing your pet to their new home. However, regular training sessions such as the basics like “sit” and “stay” can help your pet focus in a new environment. Practice these basics in every room of your house and outdoors in your yard to get them used to every area of the house. For cats, letting them explore through interactive play with a feather toy or laser pointer can help redirect focus to the toy rather than the new environment.
Enrichment toys such as puzzle toys or interactive toys that require thinking, chewing, or play can also help reduce stress and anxiety by redirecting your pet’s focus. They’re a great solution for pets that may be anxious when you leave the room, and for encouraging relaxing in new areas of the house.
Remember, if your pet becomes fearful or stressed out by something new, have them return to where they were comfortable, and give them some time to rest. This will help teach your pet that they have an “out” from the stressor, and don’t need to react with behaviors such as growls, bites, or scratches. It can take some time for the most fearful pets to settle in, but providing a positive, calm environment can make the transition easier.
Is your new pet showing signs of stress or fear while settling in? Schedule a consultation today, or send us a consultation email for expert advice on how to help your pet adjust.