We all know that moving from one home to another can be a difficult time – and the transition from a shelter to a permanent home can also be very difficult for cats and dogs. When bringing your new pet home, remember that they will need time to adjust to new surroundings, smells, and routines. But with some preparation, they will soon be roaming the hallways as they have always lived there.
Here are some helpful tips for bringing your new dog or cat home.
The key is preparation and patience
Bringing Your New Dog Home:
Gather Needed Supplies – Food and water bowls, ID tag, crate or baby gate (if needed), bed, food, treats, waste bags, leash and collar or harness.
Dog-Proof Your House: Look around your house through your new dogs’ eyes. What would they chew? Look for either hazardous or valuable items that may find attractive. Determine where you are going to feed them? Where do you want them to sleep? Determine the house rules and make sure that everyone in the family knows them.
Patience- It takes time and patience to get your new dog settled in and feeling at home. Remember, they have had a lot of changes and it may take a bit of time before they are relaxed and secure.
Time and Space- make sure your new dog gets plenty of quiet time. Moving from a cage to a home is stimulating enough for now. Spend the first couple of days to learn your dog’s habits and personality and go at their pace while they are acclimating.
Build Trust- The first week or two after an adoption is a period for building a bond and trust. Establish a routine and balance interaction and downtime. Don’t scare or yell at the dog or try to force affection or close contact, let them get to know you. Learn to read him by watching your dog’s posture and expressions. It may take a week or even a month or two before your dog’s true personality and nature are released.
Training– Just like people, physical and mental stimulation are necessary for any dogs happiness. Simple training provides structure and helps the dog get settled into his new situation. Learning even simple commands such as sit and stay strengthens the bond and helps establish you as the pack leader.
Ground Rules – When bringing home your shelter or rescue dog, don’t compensate for any tough times that you think your dog may have had by being too permissive. Your dog is a pack animal and is searching for ways to fit into his new pack. Be gentle, but firm.
Limit Company – Though it is tempting to show off your new companion to everyone, give your new dog time to adjust. Every dog is different, but try to limit the company for at least the first few days. Let him get familiar with his new family and surrounding first, this will reduce stress.
Temporary Problems – A change in surrounding frequently triggers temporary behavior problems. Though house trained, some dogs may urinate in unwelcome places, while others may decide to chew on things they shouldn’t. Some may experience separation anxiety until they feel at home. As pack animals, some dogs may try to test the boundaries until they figure out just where they fit in. Be patient and firm in the house rules and understand this is temporary.
Bringing Home a New Cat:
Prepare an area: When bringing home your cat prepare an area that is relatively quiet and low traffic. This will act as their safe area until they get to know their surroundings. Set-up the litter box, toys, beds, water, and food bowls before you bring them home. If possible, keep the litter box in a separate room from the food and water bowls. Cats are very clean and don’t like to mix the two.
Temporary Problems- Cats by nature are shy in unfamiliar surroundings. Keep in mind that transition from a shelter to their new home may take some getting used to for your cat. Your cat may hide for the first few days. Don’t let this concern you, this is a temporary behavior. Give your cat his own space and don’t try to push affection until they are feeling more secure in their surroundings. Prior to their arrival, block off any areas that may be dangerous or hard for your to reach.
Watch Their Behavior- Be sure to watch their eating habits and behaviors during the first week or two. Some cats, when stressed will stop eating. If this happens, try to place food as near the cat as possible. Show them where you place it and give them food with as strong an odor as possible. Call your Vet if they are not eating continues or if you feel they are having difficulty eating.
Create Play Spaces- Cats love to play and hide. If you have a box or large paper sack on the floor, you will keep your cat occupied for hours.
Patience, Patience, Patience.
Like people, all animals are different and adjust at their own speed. Give yourself time to get to know your new dog or cat, and soon you’ll have a loyal and loving companion for years to come.