8 ways to make your pet feel at home

When it comes to Australians and our pets, we love giving them everything we can. In fact, according to the Choosi Pet Report, more than half of us (54%) say we spoil our pets – and we think they’re worth every penny! Most (93%) also believe pets should be treated with the same love and kindness as other family members.

So the results are in: we absolutely adore our pets. Which should surprise no one!

But what happens when it’s time to bring your newest best friend home? How can you make sure the little guy or gal feels as comfortable as possible? Follow our eight-step guide to make sure your furry family member gets the best homecoming imaginable!

Before bringing your pet home

The thought of bringing home a new pet sparks unimaginable excitement in most of us! But before you get to relish in all the cuddles, the walks and unconditional love, there are a few things that you need to take care of at home:

Pet-proof your home

Many Australians own either a cat or dog, so we’ll assume that one (or both) of these animals are your pet. In order to keep your newest family member as safe and cosy as possible, start by:

  • Getting rid of any garbage and plastic bags – plastic destruction isn’t as fun for humans as it is for pets!
  • Tape down any cords and block any paths to electric outlets.
  • Hide all those nasty poisonous items – like fly spray, medicines, chocolate and other foods that can poison your pet.
  • Make sure any plants around your home and in your garden aren’t poisonous to animals.
  • Reserve a special ‘dog or cat zone’ for your pet – one that isn’t near any potential hazards.

Prepare the rest of your household

Hearing the screams of excitement from your partner, housemates or kids when you tell them that a new pet will be joining the household is a reaction we can all understand. Give them the opportunity to let out all that excitement before your new pet gets home – if your pet is immediately frightened of loud noises and hands constantly touching them, they won’t feel like your home is a safe place.

Set some ground rules that everyone understands and agrees on. Will it be an inside or outside pet? Who is responsible for feeding, grooming and walking? If you live in a sharehouse, be clear on who actually owns the pet and whose responsibility it is to care for the animal if someone is away.

If you have kids, teach them about how they need to be patient with the new pet. Of course they can play with him or her, but they also need to respect its boundaries and not overwhelm them with love, despite how pure their intentions. Give them a 101 on pet care, like the importance of not overfeeding your pet (as tempting as it is to spoil them!) and ensuring that they always have fresh water. Just as importantly, make sure they understand behaviours that your pet won’t appreciate like tail squeezing, being confined in boxes or toy prams and being dressed up.

It’s home time!

Now that the new arrival is home, the real work begins!

Make introductions as calm as possible

Your new pet will probably be a little nervous the first time they step inside your home, so take things slow and let them do things at their own pace. Depending on their temperament, they might run straight up to new people, or they might instead prefer to investigate all the foreign smells and sights.

It might be wise to keep the kids in the living room at first so your new pet can approach them in their own time. Don’t pick up your pet and force them on your children – that’s not healthy for either party. And if your pet is unsure about new people to begin with, leave them be – after all, there’s always time for proper introductions later.

One last tip: if you already have another pet, for example if you’re adding a second dog to your family, don’t make the first meeting in the house (as that’s your first dog’s territory). Instead, let them meet in a neutral setting, such as at the park.

Keep them secure at their first night

As much as you want to spam your Instagram feed with cute photos of your new pet sleeping on your bed, try to avoid the temptation. While it might make you feel like a good pet parent – and even give your pet a bit of comfort – there’s a risk it will lead to attachment issues down the track. Instead, create a safe space for them that they can call their own.

Also be sure to check on them throughout the night so they know you haven’t abandoned them, and to let them out for toilet time.

Spend as much time with them as possible

We’re not saying you should skip work, but it’s recommended that you spend as much time at home with your new pet in the early days and weeks. If you can, take some time off and start the bonding process straight away. Some Australian companies have even introduced “paw-ternity leave”– and yes, it’s as cute as it sounds. If you’re one of the lucky Australian’s who work for these companies, you’re entitled to paid leave that will allow you to be at home with your pet while they settle in, or even bring them to work – either way you’re being paid for cuddles!

If “paw-ternity” leave isn’t an option, try leaving your pet at home alone for short periods. This will build up their tolerance over time until they are care-free when you need to go back to your normal work hours.

Time to get settled

Finally, start building a routine for your new pet’s day-to-day activities.

Vet care

Don’t forget the essentials like microchipping, vaccinations and desexing among the excitement of bringing your new pet home. Rescue animals that are adopted from shelters like the RSPCA will already be desexed, however you’ll still need to pay a visit to your vet for vaccinations and microchipping.

Pick out a collar for your pet and engrave your name, phone number and address into the medallion just in case your new pet goes wandering. If you’ve bought home a puppy or kitten, they’ll grow before your eyes so adjust their collar as needed.

Give them a toilet and a safe place to eat

If you get a rescue animal who is already toilet trained and knows all the trappings of regular home life, you likely won’t have too much trouble with this.

But with a new puppy, for example, you’ll need to set a specific toilet spot for them to go, whether that’s in the backyard or on a toilet-training mat.

Also make sure they eat their meals somewhere you can monitor them. Use this time to also train your pet not to resource guard, especially around food.

Start slow with training

Depending on your pet’s breed and temperament, they may take a little longer to learn the basics of ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘here’. Don’t get frustrated if they’re a bit of a slow learner. If they want to roam free or play instead of doing another hour of training, let them.

The best pet parents understand it’s all about taking things slow and always using positive-reinforcement.

Bring on playtime!

Above all else, make sure your new pet is happy! Toys, treats and training are fantastic ways to keep animals motivated and mentally stimulated – and to give you a bit of much-needed downtime!

When it comes to welcoming a new pet into your home, you’ll want to give them the best possible experience. So why not protect yourself – and your new furry friend – from the unexpected with the right coverage? You can compare a range of pet insurance products today with Choosi.