Tell Me About: Welcoming a New Pet to the Family
(Frank at 6 weeks old)
10 Tips and Suggestions for Bringing a New Pet into Your Home
Before your pet arrives:
1) Talk with your family. A new pet will be a big change for the entire family. Determine who the primary caretaker is; decide on the pet’s boundaries and be clear with every family member what those boundaries are; decide if your children will have responsibilities in caring for the new pet. Determining these roles ahead of time can prevent a new pet from developing behavioral problems. According to the ASPCA, every year approximately 6.5 million companion animals arrive at one of the community animal shelters nationwide.
2) Do a little research then stock up on supplies; what are your best options for you and your pet? (i.e. food, crate, tags, cat litter, toys, leashes, collars, bed, blanket, and more!)
3) Prepare your home. Look around and take notice of what the new pet may be able to access that could be dangerous for it (i.e. plants, small toys, toys they may chew and digest, dangerous food, etc.)
4) Find a local veterinarian. A new puppy or kitten will need 3 rounds of vaccines, heartworm prevention, testing for intestinal parasites, a microchip, spaying, and neutering.
5) Be prepared for the cost of a pet- the average cost over a lifetime, per dog (this varies for a variety of reasons) is between $27,074- $42,545 and the average cost per cat is between $21,917- $42,545.
6) With the above costs in mind, it will be worth your time to look into pet insurance.
Once at home:
7) There will be lots of excitement bringing home your new pet but it’s good to keep the atmosphere low-key while your new pet is warming up to their new home. According to akc.org, you need to let the puppy warm up to you on their own terms.
8) If you plan to have a crate trained pet, introduce the crate on day 1.
9) Begin your thought-out and planned routine: feeding, taking your new pet out to potty, play time, and bedtime.
10) If you live in an area that requires you to register your pet make sure you do so in a timely manner- just check with the city you live in.
If you follow the above advice your new pet will be off to a wonderful beginning!
(Frank meeting Lincoln for the first time)
Going back to my personal life and my journey as an adult, fast forward a few years…my husband and I were expecting a baby boy. Frank had been our entire world and now we were planning to introduce a tiny human to him. Our son, Lincoln, was born a little early and spent some time in the NICU. During this time we traveled to and from the hospital daily which left Frank puzzled where we were most of the day. A few weeks later we brought Lincoln home. The first thing we did was place Lincoln’s baby carrier down on the floor and let Frank sniff him. Five years later, I’m still deciding if that was a mistake or not as Frank has never taken to Lincoln the way I had hoped. In my research for writing this blog post, I wish that I would have known some of the following steps from akc.org and Meagan Montmeny, ABCDT, CPDT-KA, Behavior and Training Department Manager at SPCA Tampa Bay in Largo (for more information about introducing a new pet to baby please visit this website: https://www.familypaws.com/).
9 Steps for Introducing Existing Pets to a New Baby
1) Before your baby is born and brought home, begin with slow changes such as introducing your pet to his new sleeping area (if you chose to change the area)
2) Two to three weeks before baby’s arrival lesson the amount of time spent with your pet
3) Play recordings of baby noises and sounds to acclimate your pet to all the new sounds.
After your baby is brought home:
4) Greet your pet alone (to keep your pet from jumping on baby).
5) Allow your pet to sniff in a controlled setting, such as on a leash.
6) Don’t get so busy that you forget to love on your pet throughout the day.
7) Never scold your pet for picking up your baby’s toys with their mouth as this will associate a negative action with the baby.
8) As your baby grows into a toddler, teach your child to respect your pet’s space. Show how to stop and ask for permission to interact. Accidents are most likely to occur when a pet’s personal space is entered suddenly (to a pet this may seem aggressive). It is never appropriate to force a pet to interact. One idea is to have the child look at their feet and tap their leg- this action gives your pet a choice to say hello and/or walk away.
9) So very important- NEVER leave a pet alone with a baby or small child.
4 Steps to Introduce an Adult and/or Senior Pet to Your Existing Pet Family at Home
I’m full blown “adulting” at this point. A few years ago, in 2016, I began working at Country Friends Veterinarian Clinic and a very sweet client gave me this beautiful bulldog named Harley. Harley is a pure joy; she is the happiest, most loyal dog anyone could ask for. She loves me, my husband, Lincoln and Frank. Ask me if Frank loves Harley? The answer is NO! I didn’t know much about introducing dogs and cats until more recently and it turns out that I have made some mistakes in this department as well.
(The day we brought Harley home, she is blurry; notice the resentment on Frank’s face as he stares at my husband.)
1) Make the introduction on neutral ground, such as a park. Allow cats to have the run of the home at first and then introduce dogs (on a leash) to cats.
2) Do not leave an existing pet and new pet together unsupervised.
3) Remember to love on your existing dog.
4) Keep both pets entertained with toys and treats.
I’ve worked in this field for quite a few years and writing this blog was an eye opener to things I have done wrong in the past but more importantly is was a learning opportunity for me. I hope you take away the safety and education that I did. Congratulations on your new pet and we hope to see you soon!
Client Care Advocate
Country Friends Veterinary Clinic