Whether they have two legs or four, introducing a new member of the family is a time of celebration mixed with a little bit of stress.
Bringing home a new pet is an exciting time for everyone involved. The changing environments, however, can be stressful for any animal. By keeping the transition period as calm as possible, your animal will come to trust you and its new surroundings faster!
Every animal’s adjustment period is different. For fish, there are temperatures and new water to acclimate to.
For small animals, they may need to burrow for a few days before feeling confident in exploring their new surroundings. For larger animals likes cats or dogs, keeping the transition sane and smooth is a huge benefit for both you and your new pet.
There are times when we bring new people home to meet our pets as well. Whether it's a new partner, roommate, or baby, anticipating and preparing for the introduction will set you up for success.
Setting Up Your Home
Some animals (like cats) are more territorial than others. If possible, try bringing the new animal's scent into your home for a few days/weeks to acclimate any pets to their new family member. Take fabric, such as a shirt or washcloth, to get the scent from your new animal (try rubbing their cheeks to get their pheromones as well).
When you get home, let your pets sniff the fabric and get familiar with its scent. Do this at a time when they are calm or happy, such as during mealtime.
If you have no other animals, scenting the house can create the sense that they are 'home' right away!
While some new pets will acclimate quickly, others may take weeks or months to feel fully comfortable in their new space.
An Oasis of Calm
A general rule for bringing any animal home is to keep everyone calm.
By talking in soft voices and moving with slow deliberate motions, most animals will feel less threatened. This is especially important when introducing children to new pets, as the excitement can be overwhelming at times.
Have your new pet's environment set up for them before they arrive. That way you know where everything they need is, the house is safe for them to roam around in, and you can focus on the animal rather than their accessories.
Creating a separate room or space for your new pet can be a great way to let them acclimate to the sights and smells of their new home while keeping them separate and safe. This space should have everything they need to create their own environment with: food, water, litter box/crate, toys, and a bed.
Spend time with your new animal in their space to help get them used to your presence and scent. Calm activities, such as reading a book, let you observe your pet and let them approach you on their own terms.
While it is hard to resist the urge to pick them up or pet them, rushing your relationship can do more harm than good in the long run. Take it slow and learn their limits.
When introducing pets to each other, try to do so in a neutral territory. Reward with treats and praise for good behavior, and calmly separate them if things escalate.
Your new animal will be thriving in no time!
Meeting New People
Depending on your animal's comfort with socializing, it varies on how long it takes before they are comfortable around a new person.
Always give your animal an escape route--should they feel uncomfortable around a new person, having a way to leave can reduce stress.
When bringing home a new baby, all animals will react differently. Any training that you can do beforehand (such as no jumping or "leave it") can be important for commands later.
When possible, prep people on what to expect--you know your pet the best!
Our Pets On Broadway staff has plenty of tips and tricks on how to make your new family member comfortable!