Ask the Expert: 4 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Your New Pet

You were ready financially and prepared for the time commitment. You spent hours discussing what type of pet would fit well with your family in terms of size, temperament, and energy level. The local shelter knew you by name because you came in once a week to spend time with the animals and find the one that was right for you. The one thing you weren’t prepared for was the transition period for your new pet. You know the one. He was anxious and confused by his new home and he tended to let you know with accidents on the floor, chewed baseboards, and scratched furniture.

So we asked Gary Weitzman, CEO of the San Diego Humane Society and licensed veterinarian what a homeowner can do to help make the transition from shelter animal to family member a little easier on your pet your home.

1. Help your pet get acclimated.

The best advice I can offer is to get supplies set up beforehand, such as bowls, toys and a bed. When your bring your new pet home, try to keep the environment as calm as possible and let your new pet acclimate at their own pace. Let them explore and get used to their surroundings, and don’t overwhelm them with attention, loud noises, and petting, unless they solicit them first.

2. Create a “safe zone” for your pet.

Pet proofing your home is a vital step in ensuring the health and safety of your new family member. Crate-training can be an excellent “safe-zone” for your pet to relax while you’re away. Alternatively, you can create a pet-proof area where your animal will spend most of his time. Things such as taping loose electrical cords to baseboards, storing household chemicals on high shelves, removing plants, rugs, and breakables and installing baby gates, can all be helpful in creating a safe space. You may also want to introduce interactive toys to keep your pet busy while alone.

3. Remove or hide anything that's dangerous to your pet.

Common household items inside and outside the home can pose a threat to your new animal. Outside the house, avoid fertilizers and plant food in areas where your pet may be left unsupervised in the yard, ensure all garbage cans have locking lids, remove any insect poisons, snail bait or rodent traps, and keep antifreeze sealed and away from reach. Inside your home, keep human medications out of reach, store string, yarn, rubber bands, and dental floss, check to make sure household plants are not poisonous and keep human foods away from pets.

4. Have a plan for house training.

Crate-training is a wonderful tool to provide a positive, safe place for your pet to relax, and can be very helpful during house training. Keep your dog on a feeding schedule with the same diet he was used to eating in the shelter to avoid tummy-trouble. Choose a consistent area for your pet to go potty, and take him out often, preferably every hour. Remember to praise and play for successful eliminations, and simply ignore accidents.

Gary Weitzman is a licensed veterinarian and a seasoned animal welfare professional with more than 20 years of experience. He’s the proud dad to Betty, a lovable pit bull, and Jake, a three-legged German Shepherd.


Want to make your home a pet paradise? Try these 7 home improvements just for your pet!