Adopting a shelter pet is a great way to bring a new member into your family while saving a life. But when you get your pet home, there is quite a big adjustment that can happen. Depending on your pet’s demeanor and personality, it can take days for them to adjust to their new home. As a pet parent to several shelter animals, here’s my guide on how to get you and your pet acclimated to the new living situation.
Prepare Your Home
Depending on the type of pet you’re adopting, you may need to make some space adjustments. For our cat, we got her food, water, litter box and pet bed situated before she came home. You will want to isolate your new pet in a room by themselves, especially if you have a pet already, for at least a few hours to let them settle and get used to the new smells. Some pets may want immediate attention, however, so keep a close eye on them. A bathroom or kitchen is a great place to introduce your new pet to their home.
Be sure you have a carrier that’s appropriate for your pet before you pick them up at the shelter. Some shelters, like the one we adopted from, gave us a cage for free for our cat. Be sure that your car is a comfortable temperature and try to make a direct trip home. I found that driving on smoother roads and on quicker routes helped make our cat more comfortable as we transported her home. You can even put blankets or toys in the carrier for younger pets to help them get comfortable. If you have a longer drive, be sure to take plenty of breaks to allow the pet to roam in the car, with it parked, or walk a dog to let them use the restroom.
Coming Out of Their Carrier
When you get home, allow your pet out of their carrier in the room where you will keep them while they transition. Let them smell you, their surroundings and watch them to be sure they’ve settled in. Depending on your pets personality, you may need to leave them alone or sit with them for awhile. My cat is very much a people lover, so she wanted to spend time with us. If you have children or pets, spend time with your new companion alone before introducing them slowly to the rest of the family. If you have chosen a dog as a new pet, be sure to walk them or go outside with them to let them acclimate to the area.
The Coming Week (Or So)
After isolating the pet for as long as is appropriate, they are ready to meet the rest of your family. Allow interactions with your pets and children slowly, and be sure to stay close by in case anyone gets nervous and needs help. You’ll notice your pet slowly becoming more acclimated and friendly towards everyone in your household. Be aware, though, that this transition can take a week or more. Some pets that are cuddly and sweet might be shy until they trust you. Some shelter animals have had a rough past, so once they learn your love and kindness, they’ll be sure to reciprocate. Remember that you have saved a life by bringing your furry friend home, and you can make a huge difference in their life.