How to introduce a new pet to your home

Mum, Daughter, Cat, Dog in Grass

Anyone who has ever moved house will know what a stressful experience it can be, so imagine how such an experience must feel for your new cat or dog. Being territorial creatures, new surroundings can cause confusion and disorientation for your pet.

Here we provide you with a little advice to make this transition as easy as possible:

Pet-proof your home
Just like when you have a baby, you need to ensure that your home is safe for your new pet. Kittens are particularly supple animals and can slither into any holes or registers. These areas will need to be covered up or at least made inaccessible to your pet. The first few days are particularly frightening and your new pet will be on the look out for little hideaways.

Safety
Sealed off all those nooks and crannies? Your home is now safe but the outside world is not. Letting your pet outside for the first time is a nerve-racking experience, and they must be vaccinated at least one week before letting them outside. Furthermore, it is probably best to keep them indoors for around two weeks, so that they get used to the smell of their new home and know to return there for food. If you have a cat flap (or plan to get one) either lock it during this time or simply install one at a later date.

Set boundaries
It is important to teach your new pet some boundaries as early as possible. Some people may feel comfortable with their pet sleeping on their bed, jumping on furniture, etc., but many do not. The earlier you teach your pet the house rules the easier it will be for both yourself and them. If they jump on the sofa, place them on the floor and give them a treat, after a few weeks they will associate not climbing on furniture with being rewarded. But remember, practice makes perfect and consistency is key when conditioning new behaviours.

Give them some space
As mentioned, cats and dogs are territorial by nature. It is therefore a good idea to give them their own territory within the house. Create a comfortable cubbyhole they can retreat to and try not to disturb them when they make use of it. It should be a quiet and private space they know is safe.

Feeding and hygiene
Similar to the above point, it is also a good idea to provide specific areas in your home for your new cat or dog to eat, drink and go to toilet. Their litter tray should not be kept near their sleeping or eating area, and should be kept clean. Check regularly for waste and remove it immediately. Their feeding area should also be kept clean and remain in the same area. Your pet needs to learn that their eating, sleeping and toilet stations are activities to be done in distinct areas of the house. This will help provide them with some structure and routine, as well as keeping your house clean and tidy.

Ultimately, with a little patience and lots of affection, your pet will settle into their new home and family in no time!

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