We Just Got a New Fur Kid, Now What?

Choosing a new family pet is no small decision.

Choosing a new family pet is no small decision.

Our guest poster works in an ER, is an experienced Vet Tech, loves animals, and is a busy Marine wife. Please visit her blog – ABoyAGirlAndTheMarineCorps – for more great info and perspective.

Oh man, my favorite thing in life is a new fur kid (mine or someone else’s).  I love getting to hear about the joys of a new family member and I love having fur kids in my house.  But after you have checked your home and your life, decided on a cat or dog, and even picked which furry rug rat is going to be your newest family member, what do you do?

First things first: Decide where they will live in your home.

My pups live in the kitchen, but have kennels in there too.¬† They have long since been allowed free reign of the house, but they like their kennels and I found them to be vital for our second pup’s adjustment to his new home.

Will they have kennels in the garage, or sleep on your bed?  Where will they eat?

Next, make sure you have a vet. 

If you don’t, call around and see who your friends use.  Who has a good reputation in the area?  And it never hurts to ask for a tour.  Not all veterinary offices can accommodate this, so don’t be upset if they can’t, but touring can give you a good idea of how your pets will be handled and cared for.  And most importantly, no matter how highly recommended, if YOU don’t like the vet, don’t use them.  Just like your own doctor, it’s important to like your vet.  It allows a good relationship and open communication.

And now for the fun part: bringing them home and introducing them to the family!

Puppies and kittens adjust to new homes differently than adult animals will.  And the rules for introduction can vary slightly based on age.  But I always recommend that family members (human or fur) meet the animal in a safe, neutral location before even considering bringing them home permanently.   This ensures that the animals, kiddos and adults can all get along with the new addition and vice versa.

Once they are in the new home, bring them into a room that has no one else in it.  No kiddos, no furry family members.  Initially, it’s ideal to restrict their access to both other animals/family members and other parts of the house.  Showing up somewhere new can be overwhelming for the animal, no matter what age they are.  A nice slow introduction to the house at large and family can help lessen the stress.

Have early playtime set aside with family members one or two at a time, but not more. 

The new pet shouldn’t be interacting with the current furry family for a few days.  I always like to allow the cat/dog to greet periodically through baby gates or mesh screens if I can.  But that’s not always possible.  So short, monitored visits full of fun and treats for all is a good way to introduce the new furry one to the current pack.

Slowly add more roaming room. 

By allowing the pup or kitty to adjust to their surroundings slowly over a week or so, you can minimize stress on them and on the family.  It allows your current pack to get used to the new addition, your children to adjust and your new pup or kitty to adjust to everyone and everything in a controlled way.  This same principle can be used for introducing pets to a new home after PCS’ing too.  I have found it to be a supremely effective way to keep control of the situation and not overly stress anyone out.

 And last but not least, have a backup plan. 

If your new puppy is having a hard time, consider crate training.  If they seem to need a little extra exercise, maybe a dog walker can help.  And if your kitten hates her litter box, consider what she was used to before.  Maybe she has a preference.  Is there a dog daycare in the area if you need a sanity break?  If you are like me, you will!  My pups were crazy as young n’s.  And make sure to ask around for dog trainers and other such resources in the area that might be nice to have on hand just in case you run into issues with a stubborn pup or really willful cat (though cats are generally pretty willful).

 

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