Tips for a Successful Adoption

Bringing a new pet home can be a challenge for anyone… from a newbie to a seasoned veteran. How will it throw off the balance of the household? Will the new animal acclimate to the change in environment? Will any of us ever sleep again?!

We always recommend that any adopter give an animal AT LEAST two weeks to start settling in and learning the ins and out of their new home. That being said, here are some great tips to make the transition even more smooth and successful:

Tips for the first 30 days with a new dog:

  • On the way home, your dog should be safely secured, preferably in a crate.
  • Give the dog time to acclimate to your home and family before introducing him to strangers. Make sure children know how to approach him.
  • Replicate her food and feeding schedule for the first few days to avoid gastric distress. To switch to a different brand, do so over a period of a week by gradually increasing the amount of new food mixed in with the old food.
  • Take him to his toileting area immediately and spend a good amount of time with him so he will get used to the area and relieve himself. Be prepared for accidents! Coming into a new home can throw even the most housebroken dog off-track.
  • Make sure to give your dog her own space (like leaving a crate door open), so that she can go in whenever she needs in case she
  • gets overwhelmed.
  • For the first few days, remain calm and quiet around your dog, limiting too much excitement.
  • Remember that this dog has likely been through many experiences and even many homes! It will likely take him a couple weeks to get acclimated to your routine, rules, and commands.
  • Be patient and understanding while also keeping to the schedule you intend to maintain for feeding, walks, etc.
  • If you encounter behavior issues you are unfamiliar with, ask your veterinarian or call BDAR for a trainer recommendation. Select a trainer who uses positive-reinforcement techniques to help you and your dog overcome these behavior obstacles.

Congratulations! If you follow these tips, you’ll be on your way to having a
well-adjusted canine family member.

Tips for the first 30 days with a new cat:

  • Before bringing your cat home, set up a small area to call his own for the first few days or weeks. A bathroom or laundry room works well. Furnish the room with cat amenities, such as food, water and a litter box.
  • Provide “hidey holes” for the cat to hide in, and scratching posts (you can encourage your cat to use the post by sprinkling it with catnip or dangling a toy at the top), or a cat tree to perch in.
  • Look for holes or registers that leave ductwork accessible and cover them up.
  • Preferably, bring the cat home in a cat carrier. It will feel safer. He/she has seen a lot of excitement, so take the cat directly to her new room.
  • We recommend keeping cats separated from other cats and giving them their own litter box for the first few weeks at home. 
  • Allow them to explore common areas of the house at different times so they can adjust to each other's scent before attempting to introduce. 
  • Sit on the floor and let the cat come to you. Don’t force it. Just let the cat get acquainted on her own time. If the cat doesn’t approach, leave her alone and try again later. Some cats are particularly frightened, and she may retreat to her hidey hole and not come out when you’re around at all.
  • Your newly adopted cat may not eat much or at all at first. It’s best to give your cat the same food he/she had at the shelter or in her foster home, at least at first. Keeping some things familiar will make the cat feel more secure. Be sure to change the cat’s water frequently and make sure that she/she is drinking. If your cat hasn’t eaten for a few days, call your vet to ask for advice.
  • As your cat adjusts, he/she’ll show signs that she wants to explore outside her safe haven. Make sure other pets or family members won’t startle the cat while he/she gradually expands her territory. The cat may be ready to play, so you can furnish some toys.

Source: “Tips for the First 30 Days of Dog Adoption,” and “Tips for the Fist 30 days of Cat Adoption,”