When you bring your new pet home, remember: animals have different motivations than humans, and are very, very curious. So handle your new four-legged friend in the same way you might handle a visiting child.
• Put poisons (household cleaners, etc.) out of reach.
• Hide foods that are allergenic/ poisonous to the animal (chocolates, tomatoes, etc.)
• Partition away off-limits area via baby gates
Animals are territorial and prefer familiar spaces and people. When you bring your pet home, you’ll want them to be able to adjust at their own pace. Kennels are handy for this, providing a sweet and familiar retreat, like a little den for the overwhelmed new resident. Put the kennel in a room you’re okay with your new pet exploring, and keep them in that room for the first day or so. Don’t force them to go outside their comfort zone and explore the entire house; let them check out the premises at their own pace. If they appear to be getting overwhelmed or exhausted, take them back to their kennel immediately.
When house-training a puppy or other small animal, put their “safe zone” near they potty area. For instance, cats need to have access to their litter box, while a puppy should be able to either access the outdoors or be near enough the door that you can move it outdoors quickly when you notice the tell-tale signs of a puppy needing to potty.
• Turning in circles
• Trying to go outside
Sometimes, despite all your best efforts, your new pet will potty inside the house. DO NOT hit or shame them. Instead, say, “No!”, and immediately move the animal into the designated potty zone, where you direct them to use the potty and praise them when they do. When you clean up their mess, use vinegar to neutralize and a citrus spray to help cover up the marking scent.
If an animal continues to potty in a specific area of the house, consult a veterinarian. They may have a medical issue, like a bladder or urinary tract infection, or they may be trying to cover a previous animal’s scent. If a medical cause is ruled out, place their food and water in the area they are trying to mark. Generally speaking, animals don’t like to poop where they eat.
If your new pet is destructive in a different way, like clawing/ chewing/ or destroying things, don’t despair. Puppies and kittens are high energy, and depending on the breed they may need more exercise and attention than you anticipated. Be aware they will calm down in time, but to help nip destructive tendencies in the bud:
• Provide lots of exercise
• Always put food away — don’t leave out dirty dishes, opened trash cans, or food containers
• Provide inside toys
There are lots of chew toys that echo human toys or items. Realize that once your dog recognizes stuffed animals as chew toys, any stuffed animals in the house are fair game. In the same way, avoid getting chew toys that look too much like shoes, belts, leashes, or other items you wouldn’t want your pup to gnaw on. Stick with bones, balls, and rubbery chew toys.
For cats, provide lots of scratch toys (rub catnip on them to tempt your cat into using them), invest in SoftClaw claw tippers, and keep a small spritz bottle filled with water and a hint of lemon nearby.
Jordan is a cat fanatic and content contributor for a site about Health Testing Centers.