Bringing a New Pet Home - Part One

My boyfriend and I have been checking out houses for a while now to find our perfect first home.  With much more space than our little apartment affords, we were toying with the idea of perhaps getting our first puppy along with it.  Not *quite* sure yet, but we've both always wanted a border collie.  :)

This got me thinking, so this Saturday and next I'll be rambling about the fun, but important, things to cover before and after bringing home your new friend.  :D

Today - Preparing for your new pet!

Do Your Research
And I'm not talking about asking the store employee which lizard will suit you best five minutes before bringing one home, either.  Before you ever buy a cage or go look at the shop's animals, get on the world wide web and start digging around for info to help you decide if you and that animal are a good match.  Here are some great questions to research:
     - What does the critter need for food?
     - What does the critter need for caging, litter, or space?
     - What do they need for companionship and exercise?
     - Do you have the time and money to exceed its needs?
     - Do they get along with any other pets you may have?

It's important to look at more than just one website for your information, in case the person or company publishing it doesn't have as much info as someone else, or is writing under a misconception.  Once you are certain you can meet and exceed all of the animal's requirements, can care for any friends it might require (like social animals that need to be purchased in pairs or colonies), and are aware of all of its habitat or medical requirements, it's time to move on to the next step.

Set Up the Cage or Supplies FIRST
As exciting as it is to bring your new pet home right away, it's important that your home be prepared.  It can be stressful to both you and the animal if you have to watch it while setting up its new home.  Have whatever litter box, food bowl, bed, cage, or other supplies completely prepared so the animal can relax for a little without the added activity.  This is especially important for fish - have an isolation tank set up and completely cycled before ever purchasing your new aquatic pet.

This actually leads to the last step for pre-pet preparations...

Proof the House Before Problems Arise
If your new pet is an out-of-the-cage sort,  like a bunny, puppy, kitten, ferret, etc., it will quickly become necessary to critter-proof anything in the house within reach...BEFORE damage to the house or the pet becomes an issue.  How to proof?

For cats, the biggest problem is usually scratching, climbing, or knocking things over.  I am painfully familiar with this one, and so is my denim couch!  Before your kitten or cat comes home, go through anywhere in the house they will have access to looking for:  exposed wires, glass or fragile things on counters, shelves, or desks, and any other pets the little ball of fur might find appetizing.  It's also a good idea to have extra litter boxes around the house, at least one per room, so no accidents occur.  Obviously, remove any poisons or household chemicals from reach.  If you have furniture you'd prefer not be scratched up or climbed on, most pet shops sell a spray that smells funky to cats, or you can rely on the tried and true squirt bottle method.

For puppies, it's a bit less of a climbing issue and more of a potty, chewing, and floor issue.  Once again, remove any exposed wires (or cover them), chemicals, or fragile things near to the ground.  If you have hardwood floors that need to not be scratched, keep the dog's nails trimmed and consider a nail cover like Soft Paws.  Potty training will be covered next week.

For rabbits, chewing is by far the biggest issue, followed probably by spraying (when it comes to un-neutered males).  Since rabbits LOVE branches, wires must be covered.  If you have to have some exposed, you can easily cover them using plastic tubes like come in long lengths for fish tanks.  Just slit down the length of the tube and pop it over the wire.  That way, you can watch for chewing before it becomes dangerous.  Keep inappropriate foods, plastic bags, and chemicals off the floor and any furniture the bunbun might be allowed to jump up on.  Papers are another thing to watch out for - they love to tear, and they don't care how important the papers are to you!  ;)  If you have other out-of-cage animals that you're concerned about, keep them in another room until they have been properly introduced and you're positive they can get along. 

For other free-roaming pets, just make sure there isn't anything lying around that can be chewed, messed on, or might be poisonous.  It's just important to have everything prepared so that no serious accidents occur while they're settling in.  :)

Next week I'll cover introducing pets to your home and to other pets, when to start handling your new animal, and how to train and potty train your new small animal.  :)

See you next Caturday!
-Miss Mouse
<:3 )~

P.S. - I know I missed putting up that animal spotlight this Wednesday, I'm sorry.  We've been so busy house-shopping that I didn't have much time to write a good one.  I'm still going to post something up, though, hopefully this week.  ;)

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