Preparing Your Home for a New Pet

Oct 3, 2018   Tracey Aston   Training

Nothing beats the excitement of bringing home a new family member!  Adding a new pet to your family is truly one of life's joys.  However, taking the needed time and preparation before your new arrival can help ensure the process with go smoothly for all family members involved.

Before the big day, if you know what kind of dog you're getting it would be helpful to research the breed and get to know the needs of type of breed you're bringing home. Nothing is ever set in stone, and all dogs have their own unique personalities, but breed can help let you know if your new family member is high energy or will be more than happy to sit on your lap all day binge watching Netflix.  

Puppies and kittens require constant attention, having a clear plan and family scheduling before your new pet arrives can stave off issues later.


  • are you going to crate the puppy during the day? If so, our post Crates - Why They Are Important contains helpful  information on the benefits of crate training for the health and wellbeing of your pet. 
  • can anyone stay at home with the new puppy for the first couple days?
  • who will take the puppy to the papers or the backyard when they need to go, as puppies have to use the bathroom every 3 hours?
  • who's going to litter train a cat or kitten?
  • who is getting up at night to let the puppy out?
  • Who will be in charge of feedings?

  • Who will make the decision on the vet you're going to choose for your new family member? Before choosing a veterinarian for your new pet, our article Is Your Vet the Best for You and Your Pet? will provide you with many considerations before making your final decision. 
  • Who will make the veterinary appointments and vaccinations schedule?
  • Who will work on training the dog on basic obedience or will you hire a trainer? Pittsburgh's own Debby McMullen of  Pawsitive Reactions LLC and author of “How Many Dogs?! Using Positive Reinforcement Training to Manage a Multiple Dog Household shared her expertise on the subject for our blog post Choosing a Dog Trainer. 
  • where will the new pet sleep?

Older dogs are calmer, aren't teething and can go longer between potty breaks but they will still need adjustment time, a feeding and vet schedule and possibly basic obedience training. Older cats are litter trained, but make sure you have enough litter boxes in various locations of your house. 

Now that you have a responsible plan of action, it's time for some fun – shopping! Puppies chew a lot! A lot! Make sure they have plenty of teething toys so the leg of your couch doesn't become their new teething ring. Cats and kittens should have scratching post to use so they won't be tempted by your furniture.

You'll need:

  • food and water bowls 
  • variety toys –stuffed, squeaky, ropes, chew toys, stuffed mice, catnip toys
  • grooming supplies 
  • bedding
  • collar, leash or harness
  • crate 
  • a baby gate to block doors or secure them into a room. 
  • ID tags 
  • Litter box, litter and scoop
  • Scratching posts
  • Cat carriers
  • Travel carriers

After all your new supplies are purchased, but before you bring your new pet home, you need to pet proof your home. 

Pay attention to:

  • Electrical cords that can be chewed on need to be wrapped up and hidden if possible
  • Keep trash cans covered
  • Remove all plants that  may be harmful to your new pet if nibbled on
  • Lock away all cleaning solutions, children's toys with small pieces that can be swallowed, medications, sugar-free gum
  • Make sure all heating and cooling vents are properly secured
  • Remove or move important knick-knacks that an exploring kitten may knock over
  • Keep the toilet lid closed
  • Secure all screen doors and windows so they aren't easily knocked out

Your new family member is here! It's a time of great joy and excitement but your new pet may be a bit overwhelmed with all the change. Puppies and kittens cry the first few nights. Your new pet is still getting adjusted to their new homes! Older dogs and cats may not be as likely to cry but will still need some down time to adjust to their new home. Your new pet should not have full range of your home when they are first coming home.  Make sure your new pet has its own personal enclosed, quiet space, complete with a comfortable bed, so they can decompress and begin feeling secure in their new environment. You will be best friends soon enough but they are still getting used to you and their new home.  Think of the stress of moving or changing jobs, it takes a while to get into the swing of things.  Be patient with them and yourself, this is a big transition for you both! 

Within a week of bringing your new pet home, your pet should visit a veterinarian for a wellness check and vaccinations, if needed.  All dogs 3 months of age or older are required to be licensed within your county.

By following these guidelines, and of course lots of love and snuggles, your new family member will be feeling right at home in no time! 

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