Dog and cat cuddling

Helping your adopted pet thrive in their new home

live-smarter | 7 MIN READ | 2020-12-09

Have you recently adopted a new furry (or feathered) friend into your life and looking to create the perfect loving home for them? Spoiler alert: all they really want is you! They’ll likely be nervous in unfamiliar surroundings, but love, affection and support are the most important things you can give them – and we’re here to give you tips on how to make the transition as smooth as possible. 

Do your research

Cat sitting in front of laptop

You can never truly do enough research when it comes to your new pet. Before you even think about bringing your two- or four-legged friend into your home, consider the following: 

  • What animal type matches your lifestyle?

o Are you a homebody or do you like your time away from home?

o Do you have any allergies to pet hair or dander?

o Do you have a lot of space to play or are you a small-space dweller? 

o Are you very active or prefer a cozy night on the couch? 

  • Does your apartment building allow pets? 

o If yes, is it all pets? 

o Is there a weight or size limit? 

o Could it bother your neighbours or result in complaints? 

  • Are you able to commit to a long-term relationship? 

  • Do you know your skill level when it comes to animals? 

o Beginner: never owned a pet

o Novice: owned a low maintenance pet with not too much constant responsibility

o Experienced: owned a higher maintenance pet, which required constant responsibility 

o Master: very experienced, has owned multiple pets and knows all the ins and outs

  • Do you have the budget? 

o Vet bills (regular check-ups once a year!)

o Vaccines

o Food

o Toys

o Leashes/harnesses

o Training classes 

o Beds

o Travel carriers

Once you’ve sorted the above questions out, it’s time to take a look further into the animals themselves: 

  • If you’re considering a cat or dog, what breed are you thinking? Consider the following: 

o Energy level 

o Maintenance and exercise needs

o Age

o Size

o Noise capability

o Shedding vs. no shedding

It’s important to remember that no two dogs, cats, rabbits, fish or birds are the same. They all have unique personalities, traits and quirks, so make sure once you’ve landed on the type of animal and breed you’re interested in you do as much research as possible and read people’s reviews and experiences. This will help you paint a picture and hopefully prepare for a few scenarios. 

When it comes to rescue pets, take extra care with your research. These animals sometimes come from unsafe circumstances and may need additional support to ensure they adjust well. Speak with the shelter to find out a little more about your prospect’s background and ensure you’re able to give them the best possible home that suits their needs. This will avoid the heartbreak of having to return them back to the shelter if there are underlying aggression issues or other things you may not be aware of.

  • Don’t let the thought of a rescue frighten you. Some of our favourite pets have been in a shelter and rehomed! If you’ve decided after your research that you’re not quite ready to adopt, consider donating to your local animal shelter or volunteering to play with the animals and take them on walks. This is great practice for when you’re ready to bring one home!

When you bring home a new puppy, kitten or any animal you have to train, there will be accidents. Are you ready for that? You need to be patient, flexible and kind to them, because they’re doing their best and this is all very new to them!

The vet

Dog getting belly rubbed at the vet

So, you’ve decided on a breed, you have the budget, made sure your space is perfect and now you need to find your vet. How do you ensure the vet you bring your pet to is right for both of you? It’s up to you to decide what works best for you: 

  • Location: if you’re sans car and rely on public transit, you may want to find a vet that’s within a reasonable walking distance to avoid a traumatic commute with your pet. 
  • Reviews: take a look online at your local vet’s reviews before you go and find out the good and the bad before you commit. 
  • Book well in advance: with COVID-19 guidelines, the wait for an appointment may be longer than normal. 
  • Ask around: know anyone who currently has a pet? Ask them for their advice! There’s nothing better than firsthand experience.

Getting to know your new friend

Girl cuddling cat on the floor

So, you’ve fallen in love – now what? Just like any new relationship, you need to take the time to get to know one another. Remember, they’re figuring you out just like you’re figuring them out, and it’ll take some time before you’re BFF’s. 

For an adopted pet, sometimes things can be triggering and you won’t know why. For instance:

  • Loud noises
  • Quick movements
  • Thunderstorms 
  • People wearing hoods/hats/sunglasses/gloves
  • Grates and air ducts

The list goes on and every pet has their quirks, so when you see your animal react to something, reassure them and work through it. For ideas on how to do that, take a look at this article. 


Girl training dog

Now it’s time to do some training! With a baby pet, you’re able to train them exactly the way you’d like, establish a routine and even take a few classes! This is a great way for you to bond and learn together. 

Training with an older, adopted animal can look a little bit different. If your new friend is young enough training classes and socialization are always a good idea. Try these options:

  • Reach out to your local Ontario SPCA or SPCA across Canada – they will take calls and emails to answer any questions you may have.
  • Online and virtual training is possible.
  • Not completely confident in your training skills yet? Have a trainer stop by your home and teach you a few tips and tricks while having them evaluate your pet. They may see something you’re missing.
  • Check online forums where people discuss tips and tricks they’ve found worked for their pet.
  • Don’t forget to reinforce good behaviour with lots of treats!

This relationship means a lot to them, too

Man kissing cat

You likely have a lot of reasons why you decided to bring home a new pet – whether companionship, a distraction, more responsibility or a new routine. Whatever it may be, remember – you’re their whole world. 

Once you’re through the training stage or over the hump of settling in and getting to know each other, you’ll rely on one another more than you think. They’ll be there to listen on bad days, celebrate on great days, and fill your home with so much love it’ll be worth all the effort to make sure your home is perfectly set up with everything you – and they – need to thrive.