Family Features, Special to Valley News
Bringing a pet home for the first time – even if the household already has other pets – can be an exciting moment. However, it’s important to involve the whole family in discussing whether the family will foster or adopt, and what each family member’s responsibilities with the new pet will be. It also takes preparation and patience to ensure a smooth transition.
Regardless of the type of companion the family is welcoming into the home, adjusting to a new environment can be overwhelming and could lead to anxiety. Because dogs and cats do not communicate like humans, they often express anxiety by misbehaving, which makes it important to be willing to spend the first several days bonding with the pet and forming good habits.
Visit the local shelter or animal welfare organization to complete necessary forms and background check, and consider this advice from the experts at PetSmart to help set the family and their new furry friend up for a successful homecoming.
Introduce the new pet to current pets.
When bringing a new pet into the family, set up a proper introduction with any current pets to help make the transition easier. For dogs, schedule the initial meeting at a neutral environment outside of the home. Cats typically need a more gradual introduction to get comfortable. Start by keeping felines in separate rooms with their own litter boxes, but let them see each other periodically through a glass window to get used to sharing the space. Allowing pets to play with each other’s toys can also create familiarity with their new housemate’s scent.
Pet-proof the home.
Because new pets can be especially curious and jump onto high surfaces or squeeze into small spaces, ensure clothes, cleaning supplies, electrical wires or cords and other potential hazards are out of reach. Other measures to take to pet-proof the home include keeping toilet lids closed, covering vents and latching trash can lids. Also create a pet-friendly space with a bed or another way to divert attention, such as a scratching post for cats.
Prepare the necessities.
Decrease stress before bringing the new companion home by getting as many of the necessities ahead of time as possible. Ensuring the pet comes home to their own crate or bed, food and water bowls, a collar with identification, leash, food, necessary pest treatments and a variety of toys can make the adjustment to new surroundings easier.
Create a schedule.
Creating a routine for the new pet companion’s mealtimes, bathroom breaks and playtime can help make the transition easier on both the family and the pet. When building out the schedule, keep in mind that younger pets typically need to relieve themselves more often, and puppies and kittens also often require more exercise than older pets. Plan time for daily walks, solo playtime and trips to the park or backyard to play fetch.
Keep the new pet happy and healthy.
While a proper diet and plenty of exercise can go a long way toward keeping a pet feeling their best, ensure the furry friend looks the part by regularly bathing him or her and maintaining a healthy coat by brushing often with at-home grooming tools. It is also important to find a veterinarian who is equipped to handle breed-specific needs and schedule routine checkups to stay on top of vaccines and any potential health concerns. Speak with a foster coordinator to find out about foster-specific requirements.
Find more tips for welcoming a new pet into the household at http://petsmart.com.