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How to Help a New Pet Adjust to Your Home



Adding a furry family member can be a very exciting event.  While everyone in the family is anxious to meet the new bundle of joy it may be wise to allow your new pet some time to settle into the routine of the house before meeting and greeting too many extended family members.  In addition, it is a good precaution to not expose your new pet to any furry “siblings” or “cousins” for a couple weeks to prevent the spread of disease either to or from your new pet.  This includes having separate eating, drinking, sleeping, and potty areas.

One strategy that may prove useful is to create a place in the house that belongs to the new pet. For dogs this should include a crate, even if you leave the door open at first.  Make sure to include a place for water and food in a quiet area of the house. 

A secure bedding area with clean, dry, comfortable bedding will help everyone get plenty of rest in the early adjustment period.  Puppies will need potty access at least once overnight, so be prepared to take a late night trip outside or provide potty pads.   Crate training is a good way to confine your new dog while you are sleeping. This will prevent the dog from ingesting anything harmful and also help with potty training. 

Introduction to an existing pet can be tense for everyone involved. It may be best to take both pets to a “neutral” area with minimal stimulation (noise, other pets etc) for the first meeting. Dogs should be leashed and monitored closely for play behavior versus aggressive overtures. Introductions through a screen door or by placing one or both pets in carriers and allowing them to see and smell each other for several minutes at a time until tolerant of the other pet may help ease the transition. This may be useful in existing cat/new dog situations if the dog is not accustomed to cats.

Patience is the key to bringing a new pet into your household.  Many pets are experiencing multiple stresses such as re-homing, surgery, and introduction to new pets and people.  Understanding that these factors can influence your new pet's reactions is important to establishing a companion animal bond early.  Questions or difficulties can be addressed by shelter staff, your veterinarian or pet dog trainers. 


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