Preparing for Your New Pet
January 16, 2021
So you’re in the process of adopting, or you’ve found a reputable breeder and are on the waiting list for a new puppy or kitten – how exciting! You can use this time to prepare your family and home for your new arrival, to ensure everyone starts off on the right “paw.”
We may be a LITTLE biased with this tip, but we recommend you schedule a visit with your veterinary clinic right away! Do this as soon as you know you’ll be getting your new puppy or kitten. Young animals MUST be on a strict vaccine schedule to ensure they get the correct protection at the right time, and juggling that with available veterinary appointments can be challenging.
We’ll also check to ensure your new pet isn’t carrying parasites they could pass on to your and your family, and check them over thoroughly to make sure they are healthy and growing correctly. This is a crucial time to check for some inherited conditions, such as heart murmurs and hernias. So schedule your pet’s appointment right away, even if they won’t be coming home for 2 months!
Get their area ready. Both puppies and kittens will appreciate having a special place that is their own, where they can retreat from the overwhelming new world. An open crate or kennel, with a blanket covering it, is the perfect place to let them get used to the smells and sounds of their new home while still feeling safe and protected. Potty training will be in the works, so don’t get fancy new blankets and pads without knowing they’ll survive several trips through the laundry! It’s crucial for puppies that are being crate trained to see their crate as home base and a happy place. Never punish your puppy by putting them in a crate. This can lead to negative associations and fear. Instead, give your puppy their meals here, and when you leave, maybe a favorite treat!
Be sure their bowls and litter boxes are shallow enough for access when they’re small (you can get larger ones later on as needed,) and get adjustable collars you can lengthen as they grow. Be mindful of the toys you bring home – excited baby animals WILL chew up and ingest things they shouldn’t, which can end up as a trip to the emergency room. Always watch your pet when they’re playing with toys, so you can a) ensure they’re playing safely and b) understand what type of toys make them excited (something that squeaks? Rattles? Is soft?) This will help you find good, non-food training rewards later on.
Your breeder will likely recommend and even send home a specific brand of puppy food. If you plan on continuing to use this brand, make sure you have more on hand. If you want to transition to a new one, you may need to purchase a small bag of the food they ate at the breeders, to slowly introduce the new food over a couple of weeks, allowing their digestive tract time to adjust. You can also get soft training treats, but remember to keep these limited, to avoid tummy problems. We encourage you to ask any and all questions you may have about your new pets nutrition at their first appointment!
Training and Socialization
Start researching local trainers and obedience clubs. Beginning training early will ensure your pet will be more well-adjusted, sociable, and overall a better family member. 8-16 weeks is prime socialization time! Basic obedience is vital, and more advanced training strengthens your bond and helps keep your pet cognitively healthy as they age. Know that puppies can’t hold their bladders for 8 hours, so you’ll need to take them out for potty breaks throughout the night, and have something arranged while you’re at work.
Kittens, on their own, WILL be destructive and bite/scratch – this is typical behavior which they’d normally focus on littermates (which is why it’s always better to get kittens in pairs) so you, your family, or other pets become their litter mates. If they get too rough, you can squeal like you’ve been hurt (this is how their litter mates would show them they’ve gone too far) and then remove yourself from the situation, both to give your pet time to dial things down, and to reinforce that their behavior wasn’t appropriate.
NEVER strike your pet for misbehaving, as this can damage your relationship with them permanently, and potentially harm them. Young animals – like young humans – learn best when given gentle, consistent guidance, and positive reinforcement.
If your pet will have a long or dense coat, ask friends about which pet groomers they recommend. Starting your puppy or kitten off at a young age with a groomer ensures future visits won’t be stressful for them; and a healthy, well-kept coat is an important part of any animal’s health! Even if you’re using a groomer, start handling your pet’s feet and nails, to ensure they get used to having a nail trim (a sadly common stressor for many pets,) and purchase a small, soft brush to use in between grooming appointments, to keep their coats free of mats and clean.
Things to Consider
Be prepared for some interrupted sleep, messes, and things being chewed or clawed which ideally shouldn’t be. Puppies and kittens may not have any training when they come to you. Put away any furniture, clothing, or other items you’d be upset to lose, until your pet reaches a level of maturity you can trust. Be patient, understanding, and stock up on paper towels and cleaning supplies. Your new pet is learning how to be part of your family, and their success depends on you!
Our next blog will go into more depth with socializing and early veterinary care for your new pet. Check back in two weeks for this final post in our series on Bringing Home a New Pet!