Introducing a New Pet Into Your Home: Tips for a Smooth Transition
Published March 10, 2021
So, you decided to adopt a new furry family member – congratulations! We want you and your new friend to enjoy this time, so here are our pro-tips to help make your pet’s transition into their new home as smooth as possible.
As we mentioned in our post on finding the right pet, every household member should meet a prospective pet before bringing it home to make sure it is a good fit for everyone.
Once you find a good match, you can help both new and current pets with the transition by swapping some toys, blankets, etc. before bringing the new pet home. This will help them get used each other’s scents. Even if you don’t have any other pets, leaving a pet-friendly item from your home, such as a blanket or towel, at your new pet’s current residence will help them begin to acclimate before moving in.
Prep Your New Pet’s Space
Make sure you section off a designated portion of your home for your new pet ahead of time. If you are going to have multiple dogs, putting up baby gates can be helpful, as they allow the dogs to get more familiar with each other before they can interact freely.
Even if you already pet-proofed your home for current pets, your new pet may need extra precautions. For example, cats are able to reach things that dogs cannot, such as items on counters and shelves. A teething puppy or kitten will be more likely to chew household objects than adult pets, so you’ll need to search your home for anything that may be dangerous to your new pet or easily damaged.
Don’t forget to separate your current pets’ things from your new pet’s quarters, such as toys, food, and beds, to help avoid any confrontation and territorial behavior.
If you have dogs, it is best to take all dogs in the household to a neutral place, such as a pet-friendly park, to meet again before bringing the new dog straight home. Have a family member or friend walk one dog at a distance while you walk the other. Let their paths cross, so they can come across each other’s scents, and watch their body language for cues to tell if they are friendly and ready to meet and play together. This video illustrates how to supervise your pets’ meeting well.
When you bring your new pet home, it’s best to introduce them to their designated area first, as exploring the whole home may be overwhelming. If you have other dogs, make sure the new pet is settled and comfortable in their space before bringing the rest of the pack back inside.
What to Expect the First Few Days
Getting accustomed to their new home and family will be a difficult transition for your new pet, so don’t be surprised if they seem anxious or withdrawn. Each pet is different, so watch their behavior to determine what may be the best way to make them feel at home. For example, some pets may feel anxious to be alone and will appreciate your company, while others may need time to themselves to get accustomed to their new environment on their own.
Introducing the New Member to the Rest of Your Pack
Even if all pets seemed to get along during initial introductions, they should only spend time together under your supervision until they have all become comfortable with each other.
Watch out for aggressive or defensive behavior. In cats, this may appear as ears flattened or tilted back, dilated pupils, swishing tail or tail wrapped around their body, crouching, growling, yowling, or hissing. In dogs, watch out for staring, growling, hair standing up on the back of the neck, stiff tail or tail tucked between their legs, ears that are erect or pinned back, bared teeth, or growling. If pets show these signs, separate them before confrontation starts.
Reward calm and non-aggressive behavior with praise and treats and stay patient. Adopting a new pet is quite an adjustment, and your new pet may exhibit some unexpected behaviors, such as irritability and accidents in the house at first. Don’t be discouraged but continue to monitor your pet’s behavior and to integrate into your home at their own pace.
Essential Tip: If you’re bringing home a new puppy or kitten, Best Start Puppy and Kitten Packages at Essentials PetCare will get your new friend started with everything needed to begin a long, healthy life! View bundled packages and apply to see if you qualify to pay over time on purchase of $150+.
If you recently rescued a pet, we want to thank you with a complementary exam! With the Annie’s Army Program, our veterinarian will answer your questions, provide recommendations for care, and have your new pet registered to receive reminders when important preventative health services are due. Learn more here.