Your newly adopted pet: how to give him a thoroughly warm welcome

Author picture Pawshake

We recently enquired via Facebook about your personal experiences with pet adoption. Still recall that very first day at home? The excitement of their arrival, the warm welcome, getting acquainted with one another....  Adopting a cat or dog is a truly rewarding experience, yet the beginning of your 'relationship' can be fraught with tension. Many rescue pets have had a turbulent past. About to adopt a cat or dog? Then you'll no doubt have been in touch with a number of animal shelters or foundations, and will likely have gone through all kinds of procedures to find your perfect match. Then suddenly the moment that you've been waiting for finally arrives: the day you get to collect your much-longed for pet! This is how you prepare for that special day.

Is your home suitably stocked for the settling-in period?
Caring for your new arrival over the coming days will be a full time job. Moving home is extremely stressful for your cat or dog. His entire life will be turned upside down and he'll naturally turn to you for comfort and support! Which is why it's better that you don't leave him alone during those first few days. Make sure you stock up on essential groceries and pet supplies in advance: a basket, blanket, food, treats, food bowls, toys, a brush and possibly a crate, litter and other necessities.

Tamara's cat wouldn't venture out from under the bed during the first six months. Then one day she suddenly felt safe and secure enough. She's now a lively and affectionate little 'cuddle monster'.

Have you freed up sufficient time?
It's best not to arrange any appointments that will force you to leave your home during the settling-in period. Take a week off from work and try to avoid any other commitments so that you can dedicate enough time to making your new companion feel at home. Got an unavoidable appointment? Then arrange a dog sitter or cat sitter in advance. And preferably one with plenty of experience, in order that the new addition to your household feels comfortable during your absence.

Can you provide plenty of peace and quiet?
It's tempting to shower your new cat or dog with lots of attention, and you'll likely want to play with him. But give your pet sufficient time to adjust. Introduce children gradually by allowing them an occasional 'visit' and slowly build-up contact over the first days. Instruct visitors not to approach your new family member directly and let him determine the pace of his own introduction. And always provide a safe and private place for him to withdraw to. First impressions can be overwhelming, so give your pet the time and space he deserves.

Sophie rescues Romanian street dogs. Whilst some are initially fearful, others are happy and relaxed from the very outset. Here are Sophie's own canine companions: a Romanian dog and a Chihuaha

Do you have the patience required?
Patience is the most important requirement for building a strong bond with your adopted cat or dog. Your new pet might be anxious or uncertain. It may not eat or drink much during the first few days and might not want to accompany you outside or do its 'business'. Such behaviour can be an indication of stress. If your dog doesn't feel like eating, don't force him. Instead remove his bowl and offer the food a little later. A dog will usually regain his appetite after a couple of days. If he still doesn't eat or pee, then call your vet or animal shelter to discuss a plan of action.

Some rescue pets feel instantly at home and are extremely grateful that you took them in. Others will take days, weeks or even years to adjust. However, your patience will always pay off in the long run. And giving an animal a new home and a second chance at happiness is an extremely rewarding experience. Recently a adopted a pet? We'd love to see photos of your furry friend! Share them at Facebook or via Instagram using the hashtag #PawshakePaws