Spring is a popular time of year to bring a new pet home. And rightfully so! People feel energized when the cold weather breaks, it’s easier to bring pets outdoors (for the appropriate species), and the absence of winter conditions makes a lot of things about pet care easier. No matter if you’ve brought home a Great Dane puppy or a wee little gerbil, below are some general tips that will help your new pet acclimate with minimal stress on everybody.
Prepped and ready
Have your new pet’s “area” set up before you bring her home, whether that is her enclosure or where she will spend time when unaccompanied, such as a crate. Be ready with a bag of food but consider purchasing a small one to ensure it is a good fit for her needs and tastes. Local stores like the Canine Cupboard and Natural Dog and Holistic Cat can help steer you in the direction of some excellent quality provisions.
As an animal rescue volunteer, I cannot stress enough the importance of implementing some escape-prevention measures for when you pick up your new pet. Accidents happen, whether the animal is afraid, curious, or simply excited and ready to take on the world. A crate or car tether, slip lead, well-fitted harness, and martingale collar are top choices for dogs. Carriers are ideal for smaller animals. Use caution opening vehicle doors and verify all doors and windows are secured before letting her investigate her new home. For dogs, also check your fence line, if you have one, before she arrives for any weak spots or things that would allow her to climb over, if she’s so inclined. Remove potentially hazardous objects from her reach, including items beside her crate or cage, both for her safety and that of your belongings! We make the same suggestions even if you are bringing home an adult dog because you cannot know with certainty how being in a new place may affect an animal. If you assume the worst in your preparations, you are setting you and your new pet up for success by eliminating potential issues.
Boundaries for everybody
Give your new pet time to decompress. By all means, give her affection when she is ready, which may be immediately or in a couple of days, but there’s no need to come on too strong; you have a lifetime of bonding ahead of you! On the same token, allow current pets to adjust to the new family member at a respectful distance as well. Establish expectations early with your new pet. You can be patient and gentle while providing leadership and rules. For example, if you have decided you do not want your pet on the couch, establish that now by calming leading her off if she jumps up. With exceptions, it is easier to establish rules early than to reverse an unwanted behavior.
Slow and steady pays off for everyone
Bringing home a new pet is exciting and a journey we are very excited to be a part of! SFYC can help with the homecoming in many ways. Contact us to discuss options such as extra visits during the transition, longer visits, or modifications to your current routine. With many weeks of nice weather and years of memories ahead, we’d like to remind folks to slow down for a bit. New pets need a bit of time to settle in (yes, even the happy, wiggly puppies need some acclimation time!). There is no need to rush special experiences like introducing her to other household pets and family members. While taking things a little quicker than advised has certainly ended perfectly fine in many instances, there are many benefits for you, your family, and your new pet to following the guidelines listed above. Doing some extra research and heeding the advice of whomever you purchased or adopted your new pet from is a great idea as well. By moving at a steady pace, you are allowing you and your pet to have lots of positive experiences, minimize stress, and reduce the incidence of unexpected setbacks such as escape. We congratulate everyone who has brought a new pet home or who is perhaps perusing AdoptaPet right now!