Are you thinking about adopting a new pet? Congratulations! Bringing a new furry friend into your home is always an exciting experience. But before you begin your search for an amazing forever friend, there are some things you need to do to answer the questions, “What pet will complement my lifestyle, how should I prepare for introducing a new pet into my home, and how can I prepare for my new pet?” In addition to ensuring proper pet care, we’ll discuss some of the most important steps you need to take in order to make your home pet-friendly, whether you’re thinking about adopting a cat or dog. So read on, future pet owners, and get ready to welcome your new best friend into the family!
First Things First
Oftentimes, people adopt animals for the sole reason that they are cute or want to surprise a family member. Some people adopt a pet to give it a good home or to have companionship. While your heart may be in the right place when you decide to adopt an animal, you also have to set realistic expectations and have the right reasons for adopting. Consider working with a shelter or rescue that provides counseling services for adopters as well as one that will permit dog-to-dog meet and greets and offer foster-to-adopt services.
It’s also important to consider how much time you have to care for an animal on a daily basis, including exercise training and socialization. Once you have a pet, you’ll need to think about how your daily and last-minute plans fit in with pet care, including the time needed to feed and care for your pet. Whether you decide on a dog or cat, it’s essential to understand the time demands throughout your pet’s lifetime.
Just like most of our real-life expectations, pets do not always fit in with what we have in mind. In some cases, the expectations we have for our pets might fall short or exceed even your wildest imagination. The key is to keep your expectations in check. Make a list of the most important issues you’ll need to consider when selecting the right pet for your family. Think about if your priorities need to include compatibility with infants and young children, other dogs or cats, traveling, and time at home. Also, give consideration to current and potential medical and grooming needs and their associated costs. For example, the annual cost for preventative medical care for cats and dogs ranges from $700 to $2,000, not including unexpected medical treatments. If you are considering a pedigree, do your research on potential inherited genetic conditions that may require veterinary care down the road.
Preparing for a New Pet
Preparing your home, your family and yourself for a new pet is an exciting time. Depending on the type of pet you want to adopt, whether it’s a cat or dog (or kitten or puppy), here are some great pet tips to help you go about integrating them into your home and life.
Adopting a Cat or Kitten
When thinking about adopting a cat or kitten, there are a few key considerations you’ll need to make before making the big decision. While adopting a cat may be a good choice for most 9-5 working families, the need for training and socialization is important. An adult cat (one year or older) may be a good choice if your time at home is limited. A kitten requires quality time for bonding with you and developing good behaviors. If you are adopting a 2nd or 3rd cat, you’ll need to carefully introduce them to your existing cats. If this is the case, consider adopting an older kitten or adult cat that has successfully lived with other cats. Don’t assume your existing cat(s) will accept a new buddy easily. Check out Chewy’s step by step guide for solid tips on cat introductions.
After careful evaluation, if you’re ready to bring a new cat or kitten into your home, congratulations! The following pet tips will make it a smooth transition for all involved.
Prepare a safe room.
Prepare a space in your home that can be closed off so that the new cat can comfortably and slowly acclimate to the sights, sounds and smells of its new environment. Ensure this room has everything your new cat will need, including a litter box, food and water bowls, toys, a scratching post, and anything else you might want to add. Make sure anything you don’t want your cat to get into is safely put away, both in this room and throughout your home. It’s also a good idea to put something into the room that smells like you so that your cat can get to know you when you aren’t in the room with it.
If you have another cat or pet, your new cat should not be introduced to them face to face during this time. Your new cat will hear and smell them through the door, which will give both new and current pet(s) time and space to meet safely.
*Tip: Feliway is a great product that helps calm cats with the scent of feline calming pheromones. Used as a spray or as a scented, plugged in wall diffuser, it will keep your cat calm as it acclimates to its new safe room and beyond.
Spend as much time as you can with your new cat in the safe room.
Spending time with your cat is both fun and it gets you both used to seeing and hearing each other. From playing and cuddling your cat to just being in the same room with it while working on your computer or talking on the phone, your cat will get to know you and your mannerisms, and you’ll get to know them, too.
Beyond the safe room.
Once you feel your new cat is ready to explore the rest of your home, start the process slowly. Open the door and let them explore at their own pace. If you have other pets, they can now meet face to face, but keep an eye on them to make sure there is no danger to either pet. Keep an eye on your new cat, too, as it explores your home, making sure it doesn’t get into anything it shouldn’t. (Keep in mind that although you should have everything moved out of reach or put away, cats will be cats and they will try to get into nearly anything.)
As your cat begins to explore, you’ll want to keep training in mind. Using simple words like ‘no’ and ‘down’ when you don’t want your cat to do something, or when you want your cat to get down from something (for example, a table or countertop), can be very helpful. Use encouraging words and tones, too, and reward good behavior with treats, positive tones, and lots of pets.
For more helpful tips on introducing a new cat or kitten into your home, check out the additional resources provided at the end of this article.
Adopting a Dog or Puppy
Pedigree vs. Mixed Breed
Your decision on what type or breed of dog to adopt should not be based solely on breed alone. Some people only want a particular breed of dog because of previous experience with the same breed. However, animals aren’t mass-produced cookie-cutter style. A recent study published in Science journal provides research that dog breeds are not especially helpful in predicting the behavior of an individual canine. Researchers added that breed type explains just 9% of variation in behavior, according to a combination of survey responses and DNA sequencing. The research is based on a collection of 18,385 survey responses collected by scientists from dog owners through a citizen science project called Darwin’s Ark. They also received saliva samples from 2,155 animals.
Puppy or Adult?
Many adopters assume a puppy is the only way they’ll be able to train an adopted dog their way. Consider a puppy if you have time for intense socialization and training. Successfully raising a puppy requires a commitment to a consistent schedule for housetraining and socialization. The Denver Dumb Friends League provides helpful guidelines for puppy raising.
- Housetraining a Puppy: https://www.ddfl.org/resources/housetraining-a-puppy/
- Puppy Nipping: https://www.ddfl.org/resources/puppy-nipping/
- Dealing with Normal Puppy Behavior: https://www.ddfl.org/resources/dealing-with-normal-puppy-behavior-chewing/
Benefits of Adopting an Adult Dog
Tips from the Whole Dog Journal, by Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA
There are a multitude of benefits when you bring an adult dog into your family. You don’t have to deal with nasty-sharp puppy teeth, and because your dog has adult teeth, it’s less likely to chew everything within reach. If not already housetrained (though many are), a mature dog at least has the physical ability to hold bowels and bladder for longer periods of time and can usually learn appropriate bathroom habits quickly with proper management and training.
Additionally, an adult dog needs to be fed only twice a day whereas young puppies need three meals. Healthy, mature dogs are capable of more physical activity than puppies, too, so if you’re looking for a ready-made exercise partner, an adult dog will provide that companionship; you don’t have to wait months for your running buddy to accompany you as you prepare for your next 10k run. As an added benefit, you’ll have that feel-good feeling that comes with adopting a dog who might otherwise not find its forever home. Read the article from Whole Dog Journal.
Introducing a Dog or Puppy
Just like introducing a new cat into your home, introducing a new dog or puppy has its own considerations. First, you’ll want to fully decide if you and your home are ready for a new dog. You’ll want to think about the space you have and whether it’s adequate for the type of dog you want to adopt, large or small. Do you have enough room inside and/or outside? How will you supervise your dog in your space? You’ll also want to acknowledge that bringing a dog into your home comes with a lot of additional responsibility, including going outside often to exercise, play and relieve itself. You’ll also need to train your new dog on how and where to relieve itself indoors, too. Additionally, you’ll also need to consider proper pet care, feeding schedules and additional training.
Once you’ve thought about what goes into owning a dog and still want to adopt, that’s great! Here are some helpful pet tips from Pet Finder on how to acclimate your new dog to your home. You can also find additional resources at the end of this article.
Location and training.
First, figure out where your dog will be spending most of its time and prepare this area for your new dog. A kitchen or bathroom may work best for easy cleanup, and you’ll want to remove anything from this area you don’t want your dog getting into or that could be a danger to your dog. Consider crate training to help transition your new dog into your home, preventing chewing of inappropriate objects, and for potty training. Crate training taps into your pup’s natural inclination to keep their sleeping space clean—they’re less likely to go potty where they hang out and sleep. Using a crate has benefits beyond just potty training, too; it also helps to keep your dog safe and out of mischief when you’re not around to supervise him.
Remember: training starts from day one. Your new dog may be under a lot of stress during its first few days and weeks, so it may forget any training and housebreaking at first, if it’s had any. Be patient with your new dog, and understand that it’s under a lot of stress. For helpful information on how to train your dog, or to work with training it may have already had, take a look at this article on proper training for your dog.
Integrating your new dog to its new environment.
Once home with your new dog, keep it confined to the space you’ve created and remain calm and quiet around it, limiting excitement so it can get to know the sights, smells and sounds of its new home. During this time, you’ll also get to know your new dog, from its likes and dislikes as well as its behavior, once he or she begins to relax.
Children and other pets.
If you have children or other pets, keep interactions limited during this time. You’ll want them to get to know each other, but too much interaction can confuse your new dog or provide too much excitement.
Maintain a schedule.
Dogs need schedules just like people do. From feeding time and potty time to knowing when to go to sleep, or go to its crate if you’re crate training your dog, these are important so your dog knows what to expect.
Once your dog becomes more relaxed and integrated into its new environment, introduce playtime and keep an eye on your dog and any children or other pets. Never take your eye off children as they play with your new dog (or any dog) and always have their safety in mind. Keep an eye out for things like rough play, signs of aggression or growling, and separate if needed, then seek out help from a veterinarian or trainer on next steps for your dog.
If your dog seems ok with children and other pets and is up to date on its vaccines, you can try bringing your new dog to a dog park for playtime with other dogs.
Proper care and more responsibilities.
From proper feeding and nutrition to training, veterinary checkups and more, your dog deserves the best and it’s your responsibility to give it to them. Check with your vet on how much food your dog should consume and stick to this, as overfeeding can lead to weight gain and other health issues. Ensure proper vet care and make sure your dog receives annual checkups, vaccines, and anything else it needs. If your dog has had prior training and commands seem to work well, then great! If your dog is young or lacks training, it’s your job to ensure your dog learns proper behavior through training, whether you go about it yourself or bring your dog to a training class.
Adopting a pet can be exciting for you, the new pet owner, as well as your new pet and your family. Before adopting a new pet, make sure you follow these guidelines, from initial considerations to preparing your home and working with your pet once you adopt them. All of this will help your pet live a long, happy and healthy life.
Denver Dumb Friends League
Kitten Lady – Kittens