Your first days together
Just know the first day with your new pet is going to be a new experience for both of you. Maybe even a little stressful. It may be that way for a week or two as you get acquainted and establish your routine together so be prepared for:
- Accidents. Have pet stain & odor removers on hand as well as puppy pads and paper towels
- Shyness. Your new pet, especially if he’s an adult or senior, may act shy or even hide from you. Give him his space and let him come to you in his own time.
- Whining or crying, especially puppies. Use stress-relieving pheromone sprays and diffusers and spend as much time with your new dog as possible to build trust.
- Vet visits. Pets need updated shots and other care. Choose a vet in advance and find out about required shots and wellness plans.
- Critters. Your new pet may have fleas, ear mites or other critters so talk to your vet at his first checkup about recommended treatments for your pet, home and yard.
- Changing behaviors. Your pet is bound to have some behaviors you won’t appreciate like inappropriate chewing. Use positive correction techniques like clapping or saying “Uh-uh” to interrupt the behavior, then redirect him to the appropriate action.
Expert tip: Do not yell at or hit your new pet. This type of correction is not effective and could actually encourage improper behavior. For more training tips, check out our training resources!
Remember, safety first
Whether you’re bringing home a curious puppy or kitten, an energetic adult or an easy-going senior, your new pet is going to want to explore their new surroundings, so you’ll want to provide a safe environment.
- Hide electrical cords or cover them with commercial cord protectors to prevent serious injury or even death
- Secure window shade cords to prevent entanglement
- Put household plants, breakables, household cleaners and chemicals out of reach
- Prevent inappropriate chewing and choking by removing items from the floor like children’s toys, shoes and clothing
Prepare other members of the family
There are small measures you can take to make homecoming a joyful, stress-free experience for everyone.
- If you have small children, teach them how to be gentle with puppies.
- Use a stuffed animal to demonstrate how to pet and hold a puppy properly. For adult dogs, be sure your child knows not to put his face too close to the dog’s face or to scream or startle the dog
- If you have other pets, ask the current pet parent or animal welfare agency if you can have something with the new dog’s scent on it like a towel or blanket to familiarize your pets with the new pet scent
- When making introductions between pets, consider leaving the new arrival in his carrier for a few minutes and allow your other pets to safely check him out
- Always supervise your pets’ interactions until you are sure they will get along
- All pets should be supervised while they explore their new surroundings
Choose the right food
Choosing the right food for your new dog is essential to his health and well-being as well as your long-term relationship.
Puppies and kittens need energy to grow and some, depending on breed, may need more than others. Be sure to choose a premium puppy food with high-quality protein from real meat and easily digestible grains. For adult dogs, choose a premium adult formula with quality ingredients to keep them healthy and active.
If your pet has unique health needs such as weight, sensitive skin, digestion or oral issues, you will want to choose a food that supports those specific needs. Some of the needs may not be apparent at first, so ask the animal welfare agency or previous pet parent if they are aware of any health issues. Also consult your veterinarian.
Senior pets may require fewer calories and less fat. Choose a premium senior formula that is rich in fiber and contains probiotics to help support healthy digestion.
For more on feeding the right nutrition, visit our online food center.
Expert tip: If you plan to feed your new dog a different formula than what he was eating previously, transition him to his new diet gradually to avoid stomach upset. See tips on changing your pet’s diet.
Litter box training
Most kittens and cats will learn quickly that the litter box is where they should eliminate.
- Show your cat where the litter box is and place her in it. She instinctively will scratch and sniff around. Praise her if she eliminates, but if she doesn’t, don’t worry, more than likely she gets it.
- If you see her starting to sniff or scratch an area as if she is going to eliminate, quickly place her in the litter box.
If you’ve shown your cat the litter box and she eliminates outside the box, consult your vet to rule out any medical causes, then follow these tips:
- Confine your cat to a small room with food and water at one end and a litter box at the other
- Remove any bedding, carpets, mats or other items your cat may prefer to eliminate on
- When she consistently uses the box, gradually give her more freedom in the house
Other litter box tips
- Cats can be particular about the litter they’re using. To know which litter your cat prefers, try several different types at a time
- Keep the litter box clean by scooping as needed
- Wash the box with soap and water weekly
Prep for potty-training
Potty-training is essential to a happy relationship and the key to success for both puppies and adults is consistency. Set times to take your puppy or dog outside to eliminate, follow a daily feeding schedule and pick up food bowls between meals. Don’t deprive your dog of water as this can lead to dehydration.
As a general rule, puppies should be taken outside:
- First thing in the morning
- 10-20 minutes after a meal
- Before bedtime
- At least once during the night until he is 4-5 months old
Adult dogs should be taken outside:
- At least four times a day
- First thing in the morning
- Before bedtime
Expert tip: Keep a pet-specific enzyme stain & odor remover on hand for accidents.
You may want to consider crate training your puppy or dog to help prevent accidents, especially when you are away from home. Dogs generally do not eliminate in the same area where they sleep or relax. If crate training is not for you, consider confining your dog or puppy to a certain room or area of your home with a pet gate or playpen. Read more crate-training tips.
Encourage good chewing habits
Dogs love to chew. Puppies chew when they are teething. Adult and senior dogs chew to relieve boredom and stress. But inappropriate chewing at any age can be destructive – even dangerous – and can put a real dent on your relationship. To encourage proper chewing habits:
- Have plenty of chew toys on hand and switch them out every other week to keep his interest
- Choose chews and toys appropriate for his size
- Try enrichment toys like treat-dispensing or puzzle toys to challenge and stimulate him
- Always supervise your puppy or dog with any chew or toy
Keep their bodies and minds active
Both dogs and cats love to play. Play provides exercise, an outlet for stress, socialization, mental enrichment and it can help prevent inappropriate behaviors.
- Be sure there are plenty of toys on hand to keep them active and mentally challenged
- Rotate their toys every four days to two weeks to keep them interested
- Try a variety of toys like plush, squeaking, puzzle or fetch toys