1. Stock up on pet supplies. Make sure you have plenty of nourishing food (ask the breeder, animal shelter or your vet for recommendations), grooming supplies and, of course, toys. The ASPCA® advises that safe toys help keep pets physically and mentally active. Good chew toys will also help prevent puppies from chomping on shoes and furniture, and a scratching post will go a long way in discouraging your cat from using your favorite chair to clean and sharpen his claws.
2. "Puppy-proof" your house. Much like to keep your little ones safe, it's important to take a walk around your home and look for potential dangers for pets too. Store household cleaning fluids (and items you don't want your new pet to chew) in a safe place, tape down electrical cords, and make sure anything fragile or heavy is stored in a place where it can't be knocked over by your curious new addition.
3. Help your pet adjust to a new environment. The ASPCA recommends that you make a for your new pet's arrival. For example, if you're getting a dog, bring him home on a weekend you don't have much going on. This will give you both an opportunity to get to know one another and spend some quality time together, giving the animal time to get comfortable with a new space. A cat, though, may need some time alone to get used to his new home. The ASPCA advises that you let your cat get comfortable in a small area of your home at first. Select a quiet place, such as a bedroom or small room away from foot traffic, and provide a litter box, food and water, toys and a scratching post. Some cats may only need a couple of days to make themselves at home, but others might need more time to adjust.
4. Schedule a vet appointment. Bring your new pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible - ideally within the first week of bringing him home. The vet can answer your questions, discuss spaying or neutering options, make sure there are no conditions that need treating, and set up a vaccination schedule to keep your pet safe.
5. Buckle on a collar and ID tag. The ASPCA recommends that all dogs and cats, even those you intend to keep indoors, should wear a collar with an ID tag in case they stray from home.
6. Make a pet-care schedule. If your new addition is a family pet, create a chart or other system that clearly divvies up pet-care duties. Families with dogs need to decide who will be responsible for feeding, walking, exercising and grooming and . The same is true for cat owners. Even though cats tend to be low-maintenance, cat owners should still divide feeding and litter box-cleaning duties to ensure everyone knows their responsibilities.
7. Start training. There's a lot of truth to the saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." The best time to train your pet is when it's young to help set good habits right from the start.
8. Consider purchasing pet insurance. A pet insurance policy can help you give your new furry family member the best veterinary care possible if he gets hurt or sick. You can also choose wellness coverage to help with preventive care treatments like spay/neuter, annual exams and dental cleanings.
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