Bringing home a new dog or cat is so exciting that it can be easy to forget how taxing it can be on your new pal. Going into a foreign environment with strange sounds and smells—and possibly other animals—can be stressful for your furry friend. Fortunately, it’s simple to ease her into her new home with a little planning, preparation and the right dog and cat supplies.
On the Trip Home
While you’re probably super excited to have your new friend in the car, she is likely terrified. Whether she came from a shelter or a breeder, remember that her little world has suddenly been disrupted. She’s surrounded by new people and smells, and she may have never experienced a car ride before.
Make it easier on your new pet by transporting her in a pet carrier or dog crate lined with a crate mat or soft towel or blanket. Ideally, include a favorite toy from her old home to give her some familiar comfort. Keep the music in the car low, and don’t swoon over or pet her through the carrier bars, as hard as it may be! Giving her some time to check out her surroundings on her own terms can help ease her stress.
Once You’ve Arrived
For a dog, taking your new pet for a walk can help calm him, get him acclimated to his new area and start bonding with you. After a good walk, you can enter the home and let him explore his new territory. Many pet parents find it works best only to allow access to one room at first until the dog understands how to ask to go out and begins listening to you.
For a cat, particularly if you have other felines in your home, the transition may need to be much slower. New cats can get overwhelmed and scared and lash out with biting or scratching. You might try confining your new cat to a specific area at first, such as a quiet room, with a clean litter box, water, bedding and toys.
When you get home, open the carrier and let her come out on her own. Leave her alone for a while to explore, get a drink and get comfortable; then you can return to cuddle her or give her treats.
If You Have Other Pets
If you have other pets, keep them separated at first. Allow your pets to smell the new addition’s carrier so they can get used to her scent, and bring their toys to the new pet so she can smell them, too.
Only introduce the new pet to your resident pet(s) under direct supervision. They will try to figure out a pecking order, so hissing or barking is very common. You can make it easier on all of the animals by keeping to your usual routine and not spending all of your time with the new pet. Make sure all of the animals get plenty of quality of time with you.
Coaxing your new cat or dog to get along with your current pets can be a bit of a process, but if you go slowly, it can be a much more successful transition. Give your pets time to adjust and get to know one another. They may not end up as best pals (no matter how much you hope they will!), but they will get used to one another and figure out how to maintain a balance among themselves.