Did Santa decide to leave a four-legged friend under your tree this year? Or maybe with the new year approaching, you’ve decided it’s the perfect time to add an additional member to the family. If you welcomed a furry addition over the holidays, check out our tips on caring for new puppies and kittens in our guide below:
Make Healthcare a Priority
Schedule a visit with your veterinarian within the first week of bringing home your new family member. In your initial checkup, your vet will establish a vaccine schedule and preventive care routine. Your vet will also recommend an ideal timeframe for spaying/neutering your pet based on their specific breed and size. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions, either! Vets can provide valuable advice on food, socializing, training and more.
House-Training a Puppy or Kitten
Puppies and kittens are not like human babies. You can’t wait two years to start potty training them! As soon as you come home from the shelter or breeder, work on getting your pet into the habit of going outside or to the litter box.
Remember that pets thrive on routine, so while they may not catch on immediately they will learn eventually with a little patience and persistence.
Here are some housebreaking tips for your new pet:
- Confine your pet and their messes – Don’t give your new family member free reign of the house until you’ve established some training routines. For puppies, a crate is ideal. Often, people will think of crates as being cruel, but they can be a safe and secure area for young pets. A good rule of thumb is to keep your pup in the crate for no more than a couple hours at a time.
- Confine kittens to a small section of your house like a bathroom or closet. Put everything they need within reach, like food, water and a litter-box.
- Learn to read body language – Some pets are obvious when they have to go, while others are more subtle. If you notice your pup nosing around, pick them up and take them outside. Offer some well-deserved praise when they do go in the yard. Cats instinctively hide their messes as a way to hide their waste from predators, so put them in the litter-box a few times and they should get the idea.
- Don’t punish your puppy or kitten when they do make a mess. The problem is most likely not theirs, but yours. Did you take them out in time? Did you forget to change the litter-box or puppy pads? Ensure their potty area is in a place that’s clean and not scary.
- When a pet just won’t house-train, it’s time to see the vet. Your kitten or puppy may have a physical problem, such as a bladder infection that needs to be addressed.
Fun & Games
Puppies and kittens are inherently playful. Take time each day to introduce them to new challenges and experiences.
Kittens benefit from frequent petting and new toys. Give them different options to explore and healthy scratching alternatives.
Puppies thrive on reward-based training and learning simple commands in exchange for treats and positive reinforcement. Always reward good behavior with praise and treats and redirect bad habits such as biting and scratching.
New Puppy and Kitten Essentials Checklist
Bringing a new pet into the home is an exciting time, but it can also be a little bit stressful for you, them and your entire family. How will they adjust? What are your new pet’s health needs?
Here are some of the essentials you will need for ensuring your pets safety, health and comfort:
New Puppy Checklist:
- Schedule an appointment with the vet to get your pup microchipped, vaccinated, and checked up
- Purchase food formulated for your puppy’s age, breed and size. Your vet can help you with this.
- Stock up on treats for training and puppy-safe toys.
- Buy the basics – food and water bowls, collar and leash, doggie waste bags and holder, a brush and/or comb (depending on the puppy’s breed), and a crate to keep your dog in while he adjusts to his new environment.
For kittens, it’s similar.
New Kitten Checklist:
- Schedule an appointment to get your kittens vaccinated, examined and microchipped if they aren’t already.
- Purchase breed and age-specific cat food, based on their health and size.
- Stock up on a variety of kitten treats and kitten-safe toys.
- Make sure you have a travel crate, collar, cat bed, cat brush, scratching pad/post, litter-box and litter, and food and water bowls.
Expect the Unexpected
Like raising a small child, puppies and kittens require a lot of time, energy, discipline, appropriate healthcare, supplies and affection. Also like children, their behavior is unpredictable and can oftentimes be challenging. It’s important to be patient, remain calm and most importantly, be ready for anything!