Preparing Your Home – The Ultimate Guide to Pet Adoption

by Suzie Cyrenne March 16, 2015 9 min read

Preparing Your Home – The Ultimate Guide to Pet Adoption

The day you bring your new pet home is one of the most memorable days in both your life and that of the animal. It is almost like bringing home a new baby from the hospital or bringing home your significant other to meet the parents for the very first time - and we’re not kidding!

It is understandable that you might feel nervous and would want everything to go as perfect as possible. After all, first impressions last, right?

You want the animal to feel at home, feel welcome, loved, and safe. We know exactly how that feels, being a new pet parent to a lovable goldendoodle called Westin. Oh, we did a lot of research on how to welcome Westin to our home. That was about the time when we started planning to write The Ultimate Guide To Pet Adoption series and were interviewing a lot of animal shelters and animal rescues on how to prepare your home for a new pet.

We decided to write this series to pass along the information we received from the different shelters and rescues we’ve interviewed. We are so fortunate to receive a ton of help and we couldn’t be happier with how our home preparation for our puppy turned out to be. That’s why we want to share some helpful tips to all animal lovers out there!

10 Home Preparation Tips to Welcome a New Pet

This list of 10 home preparation tips to welcome a new pet helped us a lot, and we hope you’ll find them useful as well.

So here goes:


Be Prepared to Put in Time and Energy to This!

First off, preparing your home to welcome a new pet or companion animal takes some effort. It can be a little or a lot depending on which type of animal you are getting or planning to get.

Even welcoming a goldfish takes in a bit of effort too, since you have to pick a spot that is safe (no kitties trying to have some fun with the goldfish), away from direct sunlight (or you’ll have an algae problem), and have relatively stable temperature to keep your goldfish happy and healthy. Same goes for a chinchilla, a rabbit, a snake, a playful puppy, or a cute teacup pig.

We’re sure you’ll be up for this, especially if you’ve read our article on the benefits of adopting a pet – you know you’ll get lots of love and happiness from your pet. The effort will really be worth it.

Pet-Proof Your Home

This goes hand in hand with the first tip although some people may think that this is not necessary and it really just depends on the type of pet you’re getting.

Okay, we understand that some pets like gerbils and hamsters do have a cage or a contained area where they hang out BUT, animals like that have a knack for breaking out wild and free from their cages. Almost everyone knows a story of how a pet hamster or pet rat went mysteriously missing from its enclosure one day and was found as a fried up piece of fur at the back of the refrigerator. That is so sad. No one wants to actually see that happen, right?

Pet-proofing your home means taping electrical cords if you’re getting a potential or a known chewer (this goes for whatever species of furbaby that chews), gluing vases on top of cabinets if you’re getting a climber (some cats love climbing everywhere), getting portable baby gates if you’re getting a pet that isn’t allowed upstairs or some areas of your home, etc etc.

When pet-proofing your home, it is helpful to pretend that you’re the animal and try to look around your home from that animal’s point of view or eye level. If you’re getting a cat, an innocent looking tassel becomes as tempting as your favorite toy and food combined. You might want to keep it out of reach or simply take it down so that the cat won’t get tempted to ‘catch’ it.

Think of having a pet or a new animal companion the same way as having a toddler around the house. The only difference is, this ‘new toddler’ can do many things human toddlers cannot.

By the way, animals can eat all sorts of things too like makeup, soap, cleaning supplies, vitamins, medicine, you name it. It is better to be careful than take your chance and lose your new animal friend.

We would talk more about the proper pet enclosure (for turtles, snakes etc), right cage (for birds, chinchillas etc), and proper kennel (for dogs) on our next article about pet supplies so you better watch out for that.

Refer To Your Notes from the Meet and Greet

Pet-proofing your home starts at the meet and greet. How so? Because animals have different personalities!

Some pets are chewers so you need to keep an eye on your electrical cables. This does not go for just animals in the rodent family through, we’ve heard of a cat who electrocuted itself doing the same thing because the family thought no cat would ever do that even though they were warned by the rescue volunteers who took care of the cat before they got it. Needless to say, no one was happy with how things turned out.

We want you to be happy and for your new pet to live a long and healthy life. Your perfect pet match deserves that, right? To make that happen, add peculiar pet habits to the list of questions you need to ask at the meet and greet and during the adoption process to avoid things like the story above.

Strive to Make a Good First Impression

Making your new pet feel safe is very important when welcoming them to a new home. If the pet is from a rescue, try and see if you can request their foster parent or foster family to accompany the animal home with you. Some previous pet parents would pack the animal’s favorite things like a blanket, some bedding, or a toy. That is always a nice touch of course because that will make the transition to your place a lot easier for the animal.

Another way to make a good first impression is to use scent. Most animals are very sensitive to smells, which means that bringing home a piece of something that belonged to the animal from the shelter or the rescue is a good idea. To help the animal understand that your place is safe and that it is its new home, you may rub familiar scents on areas of your home to which the animal would most likely stay the most. Just because an old tennis ball doesn’t smell like anything to you doesn’t mean that the new dog wouldn’t find its scent comforting.

Get the Scent Thing Right

Yes, animals are very scent-sensitive (see above) and just as they like their own scent, they can find other things very tempting too. If you’ll be getting a furry baby, then you may need to secure your hamper and your trashcan (especially the trashcan!). Newly washed clothes and beddings are not safe either. Cats love things straight out of the dryer and dogs would go crazy over socks, even clean ones!

Speaking of socks, let’s move on to shoes. New shoes are just as tempting for cats and dogs as old shoes are. The new pup does not know that the old sneaker is okay to chew on but the new one is off-limits. The same is true with cats, only that their weakness is leather shoes and bags – which are simply begging to be scratched (the cat thinks so!).

Get Help from Shelter Staff and Rescue Foster Family

The people who knows the animal the most would be the best help you can get when preparing your home so ask questions and be prepared to take notes a second time around. Asking the foster family how the dog or cat adjusted to living with them will give you an insight on how you can make the pet’s adjustment to your home much easier.

Prepare the Area Where the Animal Will Stay the Most

You have to determine and prepare the spot or area of your home where the animal will stay the most. Why? Because aside from making it safe, it should be suitable for the animal you’re getting. Remember the goldfish from the first tip? We can’t stress it enough how important it is to really personalize where the animal will stay depending on the type of animal you’ll be adopting.

If you’re getting a dog, ask yourself, will the dog be allowed in all rooms or will it be confined to one area of the house? If so, getting a kennel set up BEFORE the animal gets to your home is very important. You cannot just place the kennel anywhere either. Some dogs prefer a nook (bed under the stairs would be great), and some dogs either don’t like kennels (use a gate instead) or don’t like spaces where they cannot see things or where the action is.

Start Shopping for Pet Supplies

Be prepared to go shopping! The day the pet gets home will be very stressful and can be full of excitement. Getting the majority of your pet supplies shopping done before the animal goes home with you will save you and your new pet from a lot of possible mishaps down the road.

Who adopts a cat without getting the litter boxes first? You won’t want to offend the cat right?

Remember, you have to make a good first impression!

Don’t you like to feel welcome when staying over at another person’s house? How would you feel if your friends served only steaks all the time you’re staying with them when they know for a fact that you’re a vegan? Not good, right? Like you, animals have feelings too. Those feelings may not be the exact same emotions we feel but you get the idea – so go shopping for pet supplies!

Plan How the First Few Days Will Go

Some pets have routines and it is very important to plan out how those routines will be incorporated to your day-to-day living before the pet goes home with you. If a cat is used to a feeding schedule of 6am and 6pm but you don’t get up until noon or so, that might pose a problem. Employing the help of family members to help take care of the pet or help it adjust is the way to go – that requires planning of course.

Speaking of Family, They Need to Be Prepared Too!

We’re not just talking about humans here! Some of you may have other pets at home, so making sure that they would also be okay with the new family member moving in is very important.

Oftentimes, a new pet gets all the blame when some family members begin to have problems with them, such as acting very territorial. You have to be as objective as you can here and assess where the problem is coming from. It could be a territory issue (common with cats), or a jealousy issue (common with dogs). Knowing where the problem stems from will help you find the best solution.

Retraining and socialization will help but if the problem is hormonal and/or behavioral, such as having an aggressive or dominant male furbaby, there are all natural homeopathic products for that. Issues like that should not be a big deal if you arm yourself with information and keep an open and objective mind. In fact, some homeopathic products can save you from having to cough up hundreds upon hundreds of dollars in vet bills and trainer’s fees, especially the customized ones because they address several pet issues in one go.

We are so thankful that our furbaby Westin adjusted very well to living with us. We sure couldn’t have done it as well as we did without the help we needed from various shelters and rescues who were so generous with sending us a few tips. To Basset Rescue Across Texas, Healthy Pets of NYC, Hoofs and Woofs Animal Rescue, Midwest Animal Rescue Service, and many more, our heartfelt gratitude goes to you!

How about you? Do you have tips on preparing your home for a pet or companion animal? We’d love to hear about it! Feel free to post on the comments section below or share your tips on our FB page.

Thanks for reading this part of The Ultimate Guide To Pet Adoption Series, simply check out our previous blogs to see the parts 1 to 7. Oh, and don’t miss out on the next article by joining our newsletter. It’s completely FREE and will ensure that you’ll get our cute animal blogs and tips delivered right to your inbox.



Suzie Cyrenne
Suzie Cyrenne


Suzie Cyrenne co-founded Zumalka over five years ago, and has worked in naturopathic pet medicine for more than six. Day-to-day, she works as the lead manager for the Zumalka staff and specializes in training the team to have thorough knowledge of pet health and the company’s extensive line of naturopathic remedies.

Suzie has gained a lot of experience from years spent in the pet health field and she earned her degree in Homeopathy at the School of Classical Homeopathy in Quebec, Canada, (a partner of the European Academy of Natural Medicine (AEMN) in France).

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