New Pet? How to Get Started on the Right Paw!

Nothing compares to those butterflies as you drive your new pet home for the very first time. You check and re-check the rearview, making sure your new puppy, kitty, bunny, or other pet is riding safely and smoothly. You take corners nice and slow and beginning to brake for red lights and stop signs hundreds of feet before the other cars. This isn’t the only journey you’ll go on with your new pet.

To get you started on the right foot from the time you pick up your best friend onto the adjustment period as he settles into his new home and family, we came up with our favorite tips to get you started on the right paw.

1. The Essentials: Choosing the Right Supplies

Whether you’re increasing your family with a new puppy, kitten, adult dog or cat, guinea pig, rabbit, fish, or another critter, the right supplies will help him settle into his new home in comfort. After you meet and commit to your new pet, research what supplies you’ll need to keep him content day after day and for years to come.

For Dogs, We Suggest

  • Leash Collar with ID tag and harness (especially for little dogs)
  • Poop bags and carrier
  • Treats Food Bowls for water and food
  • Toys A bed A kennel big enough for him to stand up in and turn around
  • Grooming supplies: shampoo, brush, toothbrush & toothpaste, water additives
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Optional: depending on your dog Potty pads A Zendog Compression Shirt Adaptil Baby gate

For Cats, We Recommend

  • Collar with ID tag
  • Food
  • Treats
  • Bed
  • Catnip
  • Litter & litter box
  • Scratching mat
  • Scratching post
  • Toys
  • Carrier
  • Grooming Supplies: brush & shampoo, dental supplies
  • Optional, depending on your cat: Feliway

2. Prepare Your Home: Basic Pet Safety

Bringing home a new pet always comes with a few surprises. Avoid any of those surprises resulting in a trip to the emergency room. Prepare your home by puppy-, kitty-, and pet-proofing it before picking up your new pet.

Pet-Proofing Checklist

  • Tie up loose wires and strings (remember to check blind pulls)
  • Make sure all cleaning supplies, anti-freeze, and other potentially harmful chemicals are locked up and out of paw’s reach
  • Store anything breakable that could be bumped into or could easily fall
  • Clean up the floor to make spotting accidents easier

3. Get Your Plan In Place

Talk to the kids and prepare for your new furry addition by getting a plan in place. Who will join you on the car ride? Where will your resident pet be when the new pet arrives? Who will wake up on night one to take the puppy out every 3 or 4 hours? Will the kitten sleep in a box or crate?

After answering these questions and any others you may have, plan your new pet’s sleep spot and place their bed there. Choose a space that is quiet, dark at night, and far enough away that they won’t keep you up all night.

4. Veterinary Care Is a Must, Don’t Wait to Make Your First Appointment

Establishing veterinary care ASAP is important. In case there is an emergency, we want to have your new pet’s information and know what your pet is like when she’s healthy.

Puppies and kitties also require immunizations. We can help you set up and schedule those.

Other small pets like rabbits and ferrets also benefit from veterinary exams.

You’ll want to get your new pet spayed or neutered and microchipped. We can also answer any questions you may have about your new pet. From diet to behavior, we’re here to help your new pet live a long and happy life.

5. Car Carrier, Ready for Pick Up!

For the ride home, it’s best to have cats, dogs, and small pets in a carrier. This can prevent an accident and protect you, your family, and your new pet in case an accident occurs. This also prevents your pet from escaping as soon as you open the door.

Strap the carrier into the seat with the seatbelt and make sure there’s plenty of airflow through your pet’s carrier.

6. Keep a Watchful Eye as Your Buddy Explores His New Home

Carry your pet inside and open his carrier. Place your small pet in his habitat. For cats and dogs, allow them to come out at his own pace. This can take a couple of minutes with cats. Be patient.

Let your pet explore. Cats and dogs will sniff around and check behind doors and corners. It’s best to limit the area he has to wander. You can increase his exploration range each day.

Be observant and don’t let your new pet out of your sight for the first few days. Puppies and kitties don’t have the best coordination, and they stink at judging height and distance. Adult dogs and cats may feel the need to hide. This is fine as long as you’re aware of their hiding spot. The last thing you want is to lose track of your new cat or dog and accidentally allow them to squeeze out the front door.

7.  Let Your Pet Meet and Greet Everyone in Their Own Time

It’s best to slowly introduce new people and resident pets to your new pet. It can be overwhelming to get used to a new environment and new people can make your pet feel frightened and stressed. As your new pet meets the kids, remind them to go slow and stay calm.

While you may feel the need to show off your new best buddy, make the first 72 hours with your pet about bonding together at home.

As for pet intros, try introducing your resident dog to the new one at a park. This gives them an even playing field and room to come together and space to separate if needed.

Cats often need more time to adjust. Keep your new cat in one room, allowing him to sniff your resident cat from the door and vice versa. If the cats seem to be warming up, they’ll be ready to meet within a couple of days.

8. Prepare for Potty Training

Most cats learn to use the litter box quickly and often just need to be shown once where it’s located.

Puppies and some adult dogs, though, take a little more patience and attention. Prepare to take your puppy out every couple of hours. If the puppy pees or poops in the grass, give him a treat and praise!

To avoid accidents while you’re away, crate training does the trick.

9. Play and Train

Prepare to play for hours on end with your new pet. Get to know how your pet like to play and what kind of toys he finds most exciting.

After your puppy has gotten all his immunizations, bring him to the dog park, so he learns social skills and has an outlet for his energy.

Along with house training, you’ll want to look into puppy and adult dog classes to help your new canine friend learn confidence and good behavior habits. This also gets him used to being around other dogs and acclimated to the car.

Right Paw, Left Paw: Your New Pet Will Feel at Home in No Time

Each pet is an individual. Celebrate your unique new best friend and have a blast getting to know each other. If you have any questions or you’re ready to make an appointment for your new pet, please give us a call.



Image Credit: Pexels

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