Adopting a new dog or cat is very exciting. That furry friend you’re giving a second chance to becomes family, as well as a companion. But before you bring your dog or cat home, there are a few things you should do to make sure you are prepared for your new life together.  

Before you pick up your dog, prepare supplies and dog-proof your home  

Pick up food, food and water bowls, toys, a collar, a leash, blankets, and a dog crate. You’ll also want to dog-proof your home. Pick kids’ toys up off the floor, and make sure areas you don’t want your dog venturing into are blocked off (baby gates work well). Open up spaces with a floor that’s easy to clean for the house-training period.  

Always do your research into the type of dog you are getting to make sure their needs are met when they come into your home. If you’re adopting from the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society, you can also ask advice from our adoption coordinators!  

Get your dog acclimatized to your home and new people  

Before bringing your dog inside your home, take them outside for a long walk so they can burn off some energy. It’s also a good idea to keep treats in your pocket if you meet new people on your walk. This way they’ll learn making new friends gets them rewards.  

When introducing them to the inside it can be a good idea to walk them directly to their space/bed and reward them so they know that is their area. Then allow them to explore the house at their own pace.   

Figure out a sleep routine  

Start by assessing how your dog is adjusting to their new environment. If they’re confident, they may enjoy having full run of the house. Some dogs may like having their own sleep space as bonding and getting used to a new environment can take time. Introducing a crate with bedding and toys in this situation can make them feel more comfortable.   

Before you pick up your cat, prepare supplies and choose a room for them   

Pick up food, food and water bowls, blankets, toys, a scratching post, litter, a litterbox, and treats you can put into one room for the first few days. A new home can be overwhelming – smaller spaces make cats feel more comfortable. A good idea is to set them up in their own room and give them time to adjust to that space initially. This can help ease the transition to the new environment. You should also make sure their litterbox isn’t placed right next to their food and water bowls.  

Help your cat adjust and feel comfortable  

Those toys and blankets you bought to prepare for your cat’s arrival help them feel comfortable. Lots of nice blankets give them options to hide under. You can also get a cat tree so they can get up higher in the room and entertain themselves by looking outside. Take it slow. Let your cat acclimatize to the room, and as they get more comfortable with their space, you can open up the rest of your home.   

Let your cat sleep in their designated room at night  

Remember, bonding can take time. By letting your cat sleep in their designated room the first week, they start to feel comfortable, and may either continue to sleep there, or join you in your room once they’ve been a part of your family a bit longer. You can also reward your cat with treats when they come greet you to start to build that bond.  

By doing all of these things, you can help ensure your dog or cat’s first week at home goes smoothly. For dogs, you can also seek out a trainer who uses positive reinforcement. If you’ve already got another animal at home, find out all you need to know about animal introductions.   

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