Bringing Home A New Pet


Congratulations on your new pet!  Now what?

Break out the cake and ice-cream, it is time to celebrate the new addition to your family! Bringing home a new pet should be fun and exciting, but can sometimes lead to headaches over helping your new pet adjust to their new life. To make the transition as simple as possible for everyone, read through the information and resources below which should help set your pet and family up for success.

If any of the dogs or cats in your home are having other behavior concerns, check out our Pet Behavior Resources page for information on a variety of topics.

Make sure that your home is safe for your pet! Thank you to Ms. Murphy’s students, Sarah & Lucy, for finding this wonderful resource about pet-proofing and pet security.

Setting up your new pet for success
Setting Up Your New Cat For Success
Setting Up Your New Dog For Success

Introducing new pets to resident pets
Dogs and Cats
Cats to Cats
Dogs to Dogs

Setting Up Your New Cat For Success

Whether this is your first cat or you’re already an experienced crazy cat person, congratulations! When you first bring a cat home there are some key things to start thinking about.

    • Litter boxes – You’ll want one plus the number of cats you have (ie. 2 cats – 3 litter boxes) and scoop daily!
    • Food – Set up a food and water dish in an appropriate location away from the litter boxes
    • Toys – Provide appropriate cat toys to play with, especially preferred scratching outlets
    • Environment

It is common for cats to hide when coming to a new place since it is such a big change! They might take a couple of weeks to adjust to their new life, but provide them with a safe environment where they are not forced to interact will help speed up that process. You’ll want to check out our information on hiding to find resources on helping your cat adjust to their new home. Keep the litter boxes and food away from potentially loud and scary household items such as washing machines and water heaters to help your cats feel more safe when eating and relieving themselves.

Check out these awesome links below for more information on how to set your new cat up for success!
Petfinder – Tips for the First 30 Days of Cat Adoption
Bestfriends – Bringing Home a New Cat

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Setting Up Your New Dog For Success

Welcome to the pack! Whether your new pup is big, small, young, or old, there are some important things to keep in mind when bringing them home.

    • House Training – You’ll want to look over our housetraining information so you can build a history of your dog correctly using the bathroom outdoors and to minimize any indoor accidents
    • Meals – I recommend feeding set meals twice a day instead of leaving food out. You’ll be able to better control their diet and food intake this way
    • Environment – Puppy proof a room in your home so they have a safe space to be away from the hustle and bustle where they can adjust to being in a new place
    • Training – Look into training classes to teach regular obedience and manners to your pet. Check out our training classes here for more information

You’ll want to think about where you’ll keep your dog when you leave for work or overnight. Crating your dog or confining them to a puppy proof room is an excellent idea, but you’ll want to make sure that they get plenty of exercise to reduce the likelihood of any destructive chewing in the home. You might want to look into doggy day cares or having a dog walker take them out during the day if you’ll be gone for a long time.

Check out these awesome links below for more information on how to set your new dog up for success!
Petfinder – Tips for the First 30 Days of Dog Adoption
Dogtime – Bringing Home Your New Dog

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Dogs and Cats

Either when bringing home a dog where there already is a cat, or a cat to a home that already has a dog, we want to ensure that both parties have the opportunity to feel safe and happy! Often times the dogs find the cats extremely interesting, possibly play-mates but also possibly food. To help our cats feel better when seeing the dogs we want to first, decrease the pressure put on your cat, and second, to help your cat have a positive experience whenever she sees the dogs. This will reduce the fear the cat feels around the dog, and decrease hiding whenever the dog is around. Cats are both predatory animals and prey animals, which means there is a strong possibility it might be instinctually afraid of your dog from a survival standpoint. Now you can absolutely help her and she can become more accustomed to living with dogs. To reduce the pressure put on her, we want to make sure the dogs don’t have easy access to her, especially during vulnerable times like when eating or using the litter box. Keeping the dogs separated into another room or behind a baby gate can help your cat out. You additionally want to help it feel good around your dog. Whenever your cat is around them, or can see them, you want to provide it food, treats, toys, or anything that will help it LOVE being around them and create positive associations without having to interact with them. Your cat will probably benefit from being able to escape and hide whenever she wants.

Check out these awesome links below for more information on introducing cats and dogs!
Bestfriends – Successfully Introducing Cats and Kittens to Dogs
PAWS – Introducing Your New Cat to your Dog

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Cats to Cats

Cats are naturally territorial animals that can have difficulty adapting to being in a new home, especially when there are already resident cats. You’ll want to minimize the pressure put on both the resident cat and the new cat, and not expect them to immediately interact and be best friends, even if they both have lived with other cats in the past. Because there is stress associated with coming to a new environment, and with competition over litter boxes, you might see some litter box issues crop up. To help combat this, check out the information in the previous link, but also considering adding an extra litter box, and scooping them more frequently. Start by keeping your cats separated and closely monitor the times you start to introduce them to each other. Ideally the cats will start with barriers between them such as a baby gate, and should have opportunities to escape each other if they want. Provide extra locations for feeding to reduce competition over food and water, and try to help the cats feel good whenever the other is around through the use of toys, treats, and play.

Check out these awesome links below for more information on introducing cats to other cats!
PAWS – Introducing Your Cat to a New Cat
ASPCA – Aggression Between Cats In Your Household
Cat Behavior Associates – Cat Fights
Bestfriends-how to introduce cats to each other

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Dogs to Dogs

Dog to dog introductions can be tricky. There isn’t a defined recipe because each dog and set of dogs are different and act differently. You could be surprised and from the start everything works out perfectly. Or it could take time for everyone to adjust. Because we don’t know, and we want everyone to feel good and prevent negative experiences, my suggestion would be to start off with a good management solution using barriers, crates, or separating them into different rooms. As they are behaving how you want with barriers between them, that is when you begin to reduce the barriers and increase the duration that the dogs interact with each other. You’ll want to keep the interactions short at first because we don’t want to overwhelm anyone. To reduce competition between the dogs, feed them in separate locations and keep barriers between them when providing them high value resources such as bones or toys.

Click Here for Our Step by Step Guide on Introducing Dogs. 

Check out these awesome links below for more information on introducing dogs to other dogs!
Bestfriends – How To Introduce Dogs to Each Other
Animal Humane Society – How To Introduce Dogs
Whole Dog Journal – Multi Dog Household Management

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