We’ve seen lots of new puppies and kittens in the office recently. It’s so exciting to bring a new pet home, but can be a bit overwhelming for both you and the new family member. Here are some tips to make the transition as smooth as possible.
A newly adopted pet will need time to decompress and fully transition to their new life in a home. This decompression period can vary from several weeks to several months. Each pet is an individual, and their previous home situations can vary widely. Expect a certain amount of shyness as your pet eases into your home and routine.
Offer Lots of Treats
Quickly build trust by offering treats for any behavior you’d like to see more of (such as approaching you, sitting, being quiet or laying down). Use high-value, meat-based snacks that your pet is more likely to eat.
Keep a Predictable Schedule
Consistent routine is comforting to a new pet. Feed them in the same place at the same time. Take them for walks at the same time and take the same route. Be sure to schedule nap times, too!
Allow the Pet to Hide
If your newly adopted pet wants to hide for a while, let them! Never force them to interact with the family or another pet. Forcing them out of their hiding spot will only make them more afraid and teach them that they don’t have a safe space.
Ease into Introductions
Introduce your new pet to a new person or animal one at a time and use LOTS of positive reinforcement like treats, toys and play. Avoid having new visitors for a few weeks. Supervise all interactions with children. Most pets do not like hugging, so avoid this as much as possible.
Create a Safe Place
Create a safe room, gated area, or exercise pen that’s only theirs. Provide toys, safe chew items, water, and comfy bedding. Play calming music (such as classical) and make this place easily accessible when needed.
Sniffing is a naturally calming behavior. Offer scent-based activities like a snuffle mat. Additionally, hide pieces of food underneath a blanket. These activities can help create a positive association with you and your home.
Skip the Crowds
Avoid outings initially. Allow your pet plenty of time to adjust to their new home and humans before gradually expanding their world. Don’t try to do too much in the name of “socialization,” as it could easily backfire and overwhelm your new pet.
Line up Experts
Be sure to seek out a qualified trainer before you need one. If you aren’t seeing any progress after several weeks, ask for help before your pet starts showing signs of a serious fear or behavioral issue.
It can take time for your newly adopted pet to adjust to your household and expectations. Resist the urge to yell at or scold them. They may have been punished in the past, and you may add to the distrust by using any negative training tools. Giving your new pet the time they need now will set you up for a lifetime of trust, friendship, and unconditional love.