Bringing a New Pet Home - Part Two


Last post I went over the general stuff you can do to prepare for you new pet *before* it comes home, so here’s some things you can do to once your pet is finally home.

Handling Your Pet the First Few Days
For most small pets, it’s a good idea to let them adjust for a few days before expecting them to behave normally.  Sometimes this is a matter of health, as in fish or adding animals to a colony, when isolation gives you a chance to observe them for health problems.  Sometimes it’s more of a stress issue – a new hamster or mouse may need a couple of days to adjust to their new environment before being played with or handled.  Cats, dogs, and rabbits seem to adjust faster, but you should still give them a few days before judging their personality or habits.  In snakes or other animals that don’t eat every day, appetites might shift with stress, and need a little while before becoming regular.  Remember – this is a big change for your pet, and transportation might not have been very much fun!

Introducing Your Pet to Other Pets
Definitely wait until they’ve settled in before introducing your new pet to any other animals you might have.  If your pet doesn’t require isolation, then you can introduce them as soon as you feel they’ve settled in and are comfortable and healthy.  All introductions should be supervised, and some animals cannot be left alone without supervision (predator-prey, like cats and rats or dogs and bunnies).  Look for signs of aggression – vocal warnings are one thing, but any pouncing, biting, or aggressive postures should be a sign to separate them.  Some critters will need to be introduced several times over a period of days before they get along, just depending on the animal.  A good trick with cats is to lock the resident cat into a room and let the newbie roam the place, until everything smells like them, and then switch them.  Eventually, they’ll get used to each other’s scents and argue a little less when you introduce them.

Training and Litter Training
Training is going to largely depend on the sort of pet you’re getting and its background.  It’s almost always better to go with rewards over punishments, however.  Litter training is probably the first thing you’ll have to do.  It’s not just for cats – rabbits and even rats can be litter trained, in fact, they almost train themselves.

Mice and guinea pigs tend to pick an area of the cage and always go to the bathroom there, so position food away from a corner so it won’t get soiled.  Rats prefer to keep where they sleep clean, so place a non-clay, non-clumping litter in a box in a corner of the cage and move any pellets or soiled bedding to the box.  With a little encouragement, they’ll figure it out.  Rabbits can be litter trained in a similar manner, but remember not to use clay litter as it can cause impaction.  Just place any pellets or soiled bedding in the box, and when you see bunny put his tail out, try and get him to his litter box.  Putting hay in the box helps, since rabbits frequently go to the bathroom while eating, but don’t add too much at a time or it will get too soiled.  It’s okay for a bunny to eat some of his poo – it’s necessary for digestion.  Spraying, however, is a different issue and will stop if you get your male rabbit neutered (it will help with aggression, too!).

Cats use litter boxes instinctively, so just make sure there are plenty that are easy to find in all areas of the house so your new cat or kitten can find where to go to the bathroom.  Potty training puppies on the other hand is a pretty big issue, so I’m not going to get into it right now, heh.

That’s about it for getting your new pet settled in!

See you next week (or sooner if I get around to that silly pet spotlight thing!)!
-Miss Mouse
<:3 )~~

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