Bringing a new pet home is an exciting adventure, and you’re probably anxiously waiting for the day that your pet can join your family. While it’s fun to purchase leashes and food dishes for a cat or dog or to pick out a cage and the supplies you need to care for your new rabbit, you’ll need to focus on preparing your home for your new pet too.
Some pets can be brought into a home with relatively little preparation — for example, bringing home a hamster in a cage requires just clearing off the surface of a table or dresser. But if you’re getting a larger, active pet like a cat or dog, you’ll need to do a little more work on your home, especially if you’ve never had a pet in the house before.
Preparing Your Home’s Interior
When you’re bringing home a cat, dog, rabbit, bird, or other types of pet, you’ll need to focus on making your home’s interior safe for them. Preparing your home for a pet can take some time, so start this process as early as possible.
Think about where in your house your pet will live, and rearrange any furniture necessary to make space for your pet and a crate or cage if you’ll be using one. While considering where your pet will spend its time, also think about any rooms or areas of the house that will be off-limits. You may want to get into the practice of keeping doors to certain rooms closed, so it’s a habit by the time your pet arrives. Now is also the time to invest in any baby gates that you may want to use to block off doorways, stairways, and other off-limits areas.
If you are bringing home a free-roaming pet like a cat or a dog, you’ll need to pet-proof your home. Puppies and kittens are particularly talented at getting into trouble and accessing things that they shouldn’t, like shoes (which can be tempting chew toys) and electrical cords that they can bite or get wrapped up in. If you’re bringing home a puppy, take a look at your home from a pet’s eye level and look for areas that could be dangerous. You may need to move cleaning chemicals to a secure area, fence or grate off areas like your wood stove or furnace, and tie up or conceal electrical cords.
This is also the perfect time to do a thorough home cleaning. Stress to children the importance of keeping toys up and out of your pet’s reach, and take this opportunity to make sure that everything is put away. Pay attention to temptations like food, and make sure that cupboards are secured so that your pet can’t get into them. You may also want to buy a pet-proof container to keep your pet’s food in so that your dog or cat doesn’t overindulge.
Depending on the type of pet you’re getting, you may end up bathing them in your tub. Take some steps to avoid a clogged drain, such as by using a quality hair filter to keep your pet’s hair manageable. You can also thoroughly brush your pet before bathing them to minimize the amount of hair that comes out during the bath. Alternatively, consider bathing your pet in the yard with a hose during warm weather to keep the mess out of your home entirely.
Preparing Your Yard
If you’re bringing home a dog who will be spending time in your yard, you’ll need to make the yard safe. Start by mowing the grass short, since ticks will use tall grass to transfer onto your dog. Remove dead brush piles, which can attract snakes and ticks. If you’ve been using pesticides or fertilizer on your lawn, stop using these products, since they can be toxic to pets. And if you have plants or shrubs in your garden, either fence the garden off so your dog can’t access it or verify that all of the plants are non-toxic to pets.
You may also want to make fencing in your yard a priority. If you’re planning to adopt a dog, review their fencing requirements before you purchase or install any fencing in your yard. Some rescues have very specific requirements about a fencing’s type, height, and even installation method. Double-checking that you’re following their guidelines now can help you to be approved to adopt one of their dogs. Be sure that you also install pet-safe fencing around swimming pools.
Also, consider how you’ll keep your pet out of the garbage. Ingesting garbage can cause serious digestive problems for dogs, and many dogs are drawn to smelly garbage. If you have garbage cans in an area your dog will be able to access, make sure that they’re tightly secured with tight lids. Even better, place the cans in a shed or other area that your dog cannot get to.
Planning for Family Introductions
If you’re bringing home a new dog to a baby, or if you’re expecting to have a baby soon, you’ll need to do a little extra home preparation. In addition to dog-proofing the house, you’ll need to baby-proof too. Because you’ll need to create baby-only areas where the dog isn’t allowed, you’ll probably need to buy some extra baby gates.
Designate the child’s room as an area where your dog isn’t allowed. It’s ideal if you can set up gates to keep your dog out of the area before the baby arrives since this will give your dog some time to get used to these rules before you have to travel in and out of the room with the baby while trying to keep the dog out.
When you introduce the dog to the baby, it should be a controlled, gradual process. You can help to make this transition easier by giving your dog plenty of areas of his own in your homes, such as a crate he can retreat to at any time and a dog bed that’s all his. Having these things in place before your dog comes home can make the transition easier, especially if you already have a baby.
Accommodating a Pet’s Special Needs
Depending on the type of pet you’re getting, you may need to make some extra accommodations to keep your pet safe. For instance, because rabbits view electrical cords as great chew toys, you may want to invest in a puppy pen so that your rabbit can spend some time roaming around the room without accessing off-limit dangerous items or areas.
Caring for a senior pet may take some home modifications as well. A senior pet who doesn’t have great vision will benefit if you don’t rearrange your furniture frequently. A pet who has difficulty rising may appreciate you putting rugs down over hardwood or tile floors, which can help them get some extra traction.
If your older pet finds it difficult to navigate stairs, you may want to do a little rearranging and keep their bed on the first floor, so your pet isn’t tempted to climb the stairs repeatedly. If you worry about your pet’s stability on the stairs, installing a baby gate to keep your pet off of the stairs can prevent potential falls.
Budgeting for Your New Pet
After assessing your home and determining what changes you’ll need to make, the amount of money that you’ll need to spend on your pet can be eye-opening. This is one reason why it’s important to be realistic about the costs of owning a pet and to budget in order to bring home this new addition to your family.
Budgeting for a pet can help you prepare for the costs that you’ll incur. To create a budget, start by identifying the expenses that you’ll face on a monthly basis, as the cost of your pet’s food, toys, and other supplies. Next, account for occasional expenses like vet care. You’ll also face some one-time expenses when you first get a pet, like crates, fencing for your yard, and modifications to your home.
Once you know the total expenses, you can plan out how much money you’ll need when you bring your pet home and when you care for your pet on a monthly basis. Be sure that you can accommodate for these expenses in your monthly budget.
It’s also a great idea to start a savings account just for your pet. This is money you can rely on in an emergency, like if your pet gets sick and needs emergency veterinary treatment. By contributing just a bit of money to the account each month, you can build up significant savings pretty quickly.
Bringing home a pet can require quite a few home modifications, and some of these alterations can cost quite a lot of money. However, the more effort you put into creating a safe home for your pet, the more you’ll be able to relax and enjoy some quality time with them once they’re here. Preparing your home for a new pet certainly takes some time, but it’s an investment that’s definitely worth it when you can keep your pet safe and happy.