How to smoothly transition a new pet to your home

by Brittney Burgett

Bringing home a new cat or dog is one of the most exciting moments for any household. It’s also a transition period for everyone involved, including the pet. When welcoming a new pet to the family, you want the transition to their forever home to be smooth and low stress.

With a little pre-planning, you can help ensure a comfortable environment for your pet that helps their true personalities shine as soon as possible. If you’re a Rainwalk Pet Parent, don’t forget, you have unlimited, free access to virtual vet consultations. You can ask any questions about settling in your new pet, dietary recommendations, behavioral observations and more.

Tips for making your new dog comfortable

Establish a routine

Before bringing your new pet home, establish a routine with your family. Consult with your human loved ones about expectations and responsibilities. Figuring out ahead of time who is in charge of feeding, dog walking duties, if furniture is pet friendly, where they will sleep at night, etc. will be the most effective way to provide a sense of routine for your household and your new dog.

Buy a dog bed

Another step you can take before heading to the animal shelter or picking up your new puppy —especially if you’d prefer that your new pup not be on the furniture —would be to buy a comfy new dog bed!

Some dogs can be timid and anxious when they are transitioning into a new household. A simple way to make your puppy feel comfortable and safe while simultaneously training them to stay off of the furniture is to create a space for them where they can sleep, rest and relax.

Your furry companion will soon find comfort in the smells and sleep peacefully on their new bed.

Consider crate training

Yes, many pet parents feel sad when they put their furry friend in the crate to leave the house. However, there are actually many perks to crate training your dog, especially when adjusting them to a new home.

Crate training can be an essential part of housewarming a puppy because it provides a safe protective shelter where your dog can go when they feel stressed and anxious. Most dogs seek small spaces when they feel overwhelmed, so crate training your dog can do just the trick and will become their safe space for the long-term.

Another upside to crate training is that it teaches your dog how to become house broken. 

Dr. Brittney Genus, DVM, suggests crate training because “dogs don’t like to soil the area they sleep in, so a crate helps puppies learn to hold their bladder for longer periods of time”. 

So although you may feel bad leaving your pup in the crate, there are many upsides that could help both you and your dog with a low-stress transition.

Tips to make you new cat comfortable 

While it may seem obvious, cats have different needs than dogs for adjusting to a new home and creating a stimulating environment. A new cat will likely be more reserved, shy and prone to hiding at first. Here’s how you can help make them more comfortable, quickly. 

Set up the cat’s space beforehand 

When adding a new cat to your family,  one of the best things that you can do is set up a specific space for them to get accustomed to for the first couple of weeks.  Typically, this is best done in a single room of the house so the cat does not feel overwhelmed. In this room, you will want to set up the litter box, food and water bowls for your cat. 

Once the cat is settling in and getting comfortable and confident in the space, it is best to let your cat approach you on their terms. Don’t force interactions or pick them up. A good time to encourage this interaction is at feeding time.

After a couple weeks, you can start expanding your cat’s space to the rest of the home. Soon enough your cat will feel content in their new home.

Keep your cat separate from other animals

To help your cat feel confident in their new environment, consider minimizing immediate interactions with other animals in the house.

You want to help your cat settle into the home before they have to worry about making new friends. But something you can do to start the transition is to add blankets, toys and other items that smell like your other pets.

Dr. Adam Behrens, DMV, articulates in PetMD that “ If there are other cats in the house, it is critical that they avoid visual contact until the new cat is comfortable in the new home and has started to adapt to a daily routine.”

After about two weeks of your cat getting comfortable in their room, you can expand their home access and let them approach it at their own page. A cat will let you know how much or little they would like to explore and interact with other areas of the house and animals. With other pets, make sure you observe and moderate where needed.

Provide your new cat with some fun toys!

Besides the standard litter box and food supplies for your cat, prepare for their arrival with fun new toys.

Start by buying your cat a variety of scratcher options. This will be great for when you are busy or are not home so your cat can find fun and exciting ways to stay entertained. Depending on your cat’s preferences they might like vertical scratchers, or flat scratching boards to play around with. The more variety the better.

Providing your new friend with a variety of scratch and play options will ensure the happiest cat and keep them from scratching things you don’t want them to, like furniture.

Enjoy your new adventure together

Welcoming a new pet into your home is an exciting experience for yourself and your loved ones. Although each pet is unique in their own way, some of the basic tips outlined here will make your new pet’s transition as easy as possible. If you come across any bumps in the road your unlimited, free televet visits are available to help.

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