Picture a dog or cat living in an animal shelter. She’s been here for days, weeks, maybe even months. Her home is a small confined space surrounded by the sights, smells and sounds of unfamiliar animals. Maybe she’s in the shelter because she was given up by her previous owner, or captured on the streets as a stray, or rescued from an abusive owner. Her life up to this point—not to mention her current environment—is stressful to say the least.
Then you came along. You visited the shelter and fell head over heels in love with the big, innocent eyes you saw peeking out at you from behind cage bars. You knew you had to adopt this rescue animal and bring her home to a clean, calm and loving environment.
Your intentions are noble, but you must cater to your new pet’s rocky past. Even if the shelter was wonderful and you know your home is perfect for your new pet, simply the changing environment is enough to cause stress. Here’s how to guide your pet through this transition period with as little anxiety as possible.
Stock Up on Supplies
Prepare your home for your new pet’s arrival at least a day or two before bringing her home. Here are the essentials:
- Food (preferably the same brand she was eating at the shelter, which you can change later if you want)
- Food and water dishes
- A soft, comfortable place for your pet to relax and sleep
- Pet-specific equipment (litter box, catnip and scratching post for a cat; collar, leash and toys for a dog)
Set Up Your House
Consider any rooms you don’t want your new pet to go in and block them off beforehand to prevent a stressful situation. Also dedicate at least one “safe space” for your pet with treats, toys, food, water and a bed. This helps you pet settle in and feel more comfortable in her new environment.
Ease Your Pet into the Idea of Being Alone
Keep your schedule open for several days after adopting your pet. Stay home from work if you can to supervise your pet and keep her company. To help avoid separation anxiety, practice leaving your pet for five to 10 minutes at a time during the initial settling-in period. Make sure her first time alone isn’t an eight-hour work day! While you’re absent, leave your pet with treats and toys to reduce stress. Keep your hellos and good-byes low key.
Give Your Pet Time to Adjust
Remember, it can take upwards of two months for your pet to completely adjust to her new home. Don’t feel discouraged if everything hasn’t fallen into place after only a week or two. To speed up the adjustment period, pay attention to her needs and reward her with treats and playtime when she behaves well.
Consider Behavior Training
If you’re struggling with housetraining your dog, litter-box training your cat, overcoming separation anxiety issues or other problems, consider scheduling behavior training for your pet. With the help of a trainer and/or therapist, you can help improve your pet’s behavior, reducing stress for both of you.
Visit Germanton Vet for Routine Care
A healthy pet is a happy pet, so make sure to bring your new dog or cat to Germantown Vet Clinic within the first week of adopting her for a wellness visit. Hopefully, we can verify that she has a clean bill of health! From here on out, plan to bring your pet to Germantown Vet once a year for routine care, including vaccinations, dental care and other preventative services.