15 Ways to Make Your New Pet Feel at Home

As The Pet Lifestyle Coach, one of my very favorite things to do is to help people integrate new pets into their lives. These tips are so super simple but can mean the world to a dog or cat coming into a new environment with new people, noises, smells and questions like “where do I go, what do I do, and am I going to be safe?” It’s simple, and it’s all about Structure. In this blog, Smiley and I each give five tips for dogs followed by tips for kitties! That’s a total of 15 tips!

  1. Try to bring your new pet home on a weekend when you can be there to spend time with them.
  2. Right away, as soon as he arrives, quickly lead your dog on a leash to his “bathroom spot” and use a cue word to ask him to “go.” I say, “hurry up.” Usually when given the opportunity after traveling to a new place, dogs will relieve themselves right away. When he does, praise him and give him a treat. Take him out every hour to this same spot and ask him to go. This will establish his bathroom place, will begin to train him to listen to you for direction, and will reduce anxiety surrounding house training.
  3. Give your new dog a place to be. Ask him to follow you as you move from room to room during your normal activities for the first 48 hours. You can encourage him to follow you with a treat, a toy and praise.
  4. Dogs are always looking for their job and their place.Carry their blanket or a light dog bed as you move from room to room, for example, if you are moving from your office to the TV room or to the kitchen to cook. Using a treat as a lure, ask him to stay on his blanket while you both are in a room. This will identify you as the one he looks to in his new home. And, this will give him a special, comfortable place to be as he follows you.
  5. Establish a structure and communication by asking him to Sit and Wait for basics, like for his food. Before you place his food bowl on the floor, have him wait for an “OK” or “free time” cue. This simple communication will increase his bond with you, will result in a great reward (dinner!) and will make him feel very welcomed in his new home. If he doesn’t know sit/stay, then use this time to begin teaching him. Establish the same “wait” protocol with him going in and out of exterior doors. Have him wait for a permission cue that it’s OK to go in or out. This will establish that he looks to you for permission to leave, it will make him feel a part of the home structure, and will train him not to bolt out doors, a lesson that could save his life.

Does your new dog seem stressed? Establishing a strong structure is the first place to start in helping your dog adjust, and another great option is to add a Calming Diffuser to your environment. This pheromone technology releases a pheromone that mimics the one released by mother dogs to calm her pups.

Super Smiley here now! And Yes! Dogs need a job, and one of our jobs as dogs is to watch our people. Every time our person does anything, we learn something! It was very important that Angel and I follow Megan around and learn our new structure right away, and I have five more tips for your new dog from Me!

  1. Right away show him where his water is and give him a treat in his new dog bowl! How fun it that! Ask him to sit/stay, then put the bowl on the floor with a treat in it. It’s super simple, but it will make him smile! If he doesn’t know sit/stay, begin teaching him. Dogs love to learn and to please! To begin teaching sit, say “sit” and move the bowl over his head to lure him into a sit. Then give him the treat. Woof! 
  2. Make it fun! Dogs love fun! Throw a toy and play. Remember my favorite: The Super Smiley Hide and Seek game. This is the best! And it will really make your new dog feel at home. If he doesn’t know sit/stay, then give him a treat on the floor, and while he’s eating it off the floor, you hide not too far away, like behind the door. Then you call him, “Come Smiley!” and let him come get you. Reward him with another treat and praise. Also it’s super fun to just play a tame game of chase through the house. Dogs love to chase their people.
  3. Take a walk around the neighborhood. He can get used to the smells and see where he is so he can find his way home in case he gets out! During the walk, ask him to walk beside you by having him in a heel on your left. Lure him into that position with a treat in your left hand. Every once in a while do a Sit! And give him the treat! That is sooooo fun! The walk is fun and we are playing while showing everyone how smart I am!
  4. Massage. Yes, Dog massage!!! Scratch him on his head and back and massage the shoulders just like you would like it on you! Yes, right below the neck at the top of the shoulders. Pawsome!
  5. Create his Sleeping Spot in the bedroom next to the bed with his people. Crate training is great to begin with. Dogs are wired to love dens. And a crate will be like a little mini condo den inside the big human den cave. How great is this! Be sure to make his learning to go into the crate fun with treats and a toy. Don’t just shove him in. Then when he’s crate-trained after a few weeks, you can put his dog bed where the crate was and he can sleep in his own bed next to yours.  Life is good!

Does your new dog wander around the house and not stay on his blanket when you’re trying to be together in the same room? You can keep your eye on him and support that in-contact bonding time with this secret weapon! Fill a fun toy with delicious treats!

Now for the Kitties!

  1. Put her in her cat litter box right away, and I recommend two litter boxes in different locations to give her a choice. This will help avoid starting a pattern of not using the box. Show her the boxes every hour as well.
  2. Some cats may be scared and hide while others are very social and will enjoy following you around and “spying” on you. To avoid losing a cat in a hiding spot, close off rooms with doors and have a cat tree ready in the room you will be spending time in the first day. An ideal cat tree is one with a built in hiding “cave box” up high with a “window” from which to survey the room. Rub it with a little catnip to encourage her and see if she likes sitting on a perch while she surveys and acclimates.
  3. Give her choices for her sitting spot. Cats are independent individuals and have specific preferences as to where to sit. And they always know they have chosen the best place in the house! Place a soft blanket or cat bed by a window so she can look out. If there are no surfaces by the window, a window cat perch can be fixed there. Another sitting choice is a soft pet travel bag with bedding inside. Leave it open and, as cats are curious, she may go to inspect. Put a treat inside to encourage her. And, if she chooses this as her hiding/resting spot, you will have a head start on training her to love her travel bag!
  4. If your cat seems extremely frightened and stressed, start out the first day by keeping her in a smaller room like your bedroom. Pick a room where you can be most of the day to bond with her and where you will leave one of the cat boxes. This may be a challenge. But remember you are helping her adjust and this is temporary while she calms down. You could even try a calming collar!
  5. Like dogs and people, cats love to play! They are the masters of play! Introduce her to your home environment by pulling a string from room to room. She will feel right at home being introduced to each room with a game of chase!

Wondering what to do when your cat has worn you out running from room to room? Shine a laser around the room that your cat can chase and you can direct from the comfort of your chair!

The most important thing in integrating a new pet into your life is to recognize that dogs see the world a certain way, cats see the world a certain way, and we, as humans, have the ability to take care of their needs and fit them into our personal lifestyles so together all of our lives are made better in our new forever homes.

Until next time, Woof and Super Smiles from Super Smiley and Megan Blake, The Pet Lifestyle Coach®

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