June 4, 2024 – 

Written by NOCO Humane’s Weld Campus Behavior Team: Kiyoka Tamesue, PSM, KPA-CTP and Julia Pinckney, MSc.

One of the greatest gifts you can give your new pet is a safe and quiet space – this will serve as their “home-base” when they need to retreat and take a break, and contains all their resources: bed, food, water, toys, etc. Also consider pet-specific pheromone diffusers or sprays and playing calming music to help promote a feeling of calm. For dogs, a crate can be a great safe option for a safe space. You will want to make the crate as comfy and cozy as possible and leave the door open so your dog can choose whether he wants to go in or not. Never use a crate used as a space for time-outs or other punishments, as this can be highly confusing and discourage them from using it for rest and relaxation.

For cats, you’ll need a sturdy scratcher, a large litter box, a carrier set up as a bed, and higher areas for perching on, too. As a general rule of thumb, there should be at least one more litter box than the number of cats in your household. For exotic animals, make sure you’ve done your research on what supplies, housing, supplements, and other resources are needed.

Consider the needs of your existing animals

When bringing your new animal into your family, it is important to consider the needs, comfort, physical, and emotional well-being of any existing pets in the home. Welcoming a new animal into the mix will be an adjustment for the pets you already have, and it is crucial to make sure their needs are being met as well. If you have other pets, consider rearranging your home to keep them feeling safe and comfortable, too. Baby gates, long lines, child locks that hold a door open just a crack, and closed doors can be a great way to keep animals separated during the initial transition phase. 

Safe spaces should meet specific needs

When creating a safe space for your pets, it is important to consider whether they require any special accommodations to meet their needs. Does your elderly dog need multiple beds around the home that provide layers of blankets to pad their joints? Have you been meaning to move your cat tree closer to the window so your cat can enjoy looking at the birds better? Do you have a blind animal that needs a space free from obstructions that is easy to access?

You may need to make some extra changes to the area or room you designate for your new pet depending on their individual preferences and needs. Older pets may benefit from a heated pet bed, while other pet beds exist that are meant for cooling and ventilation. For more fearful animals, remove or or block off entry to furniture they may try to hide under. (If you need quick access to your new pet, you don’t want to be crawling under a bed or sofa to get to them!) This can cause unnecessary stress for you and your new buddy. 

A fearful pet who tries to hide can be supported by providing lots of hiding spots around the house that are easy for you and your pet to access. That way, you can more easily keep an eye on them, while still providing them the privacy and comfort they need. Choice is paramount! Setting up several different safe spaces around your home with various levels of cover/enclosure is a great way to find out what works best for your pet. 

Also consider different levels, especially for cats. Some cats prefer to be low and on the floor, others may like mid-height options like resting on beds or chairs, and still others love a great perch on the very top of cabinets, cat trees, or furniture. It is important to offer a variety of options. While dogs don’t perch the same way cats do, some dogs enjoy a bed on the floor, couch or bed at mid-height, or higher on the back of the couch, for instance!

To learn more tips and tricks about helping your new pet settle in at home, check out this blog post!