Finding that perfect fit for your family is a special moment. And there's nothing better than the happy wags and contented purrs of adopted pets who just found their new, loving home. Bringing your new pet home is just the first step in a long journey together. And like all journeys, it's important to be prepared. Here are the top three tips from our team to help make your pet's transition to home as easy as possible.
1. Allow for decompression
Arriving home with your new pet is an exciting moment and it's in our nature to want to celebrate! But the best thing you can do for your new pet is to give them some decompression time so they can get used to their new environment.
Newly-adopted pets undergo a profound life change when you bring them home. Some may be living in a home for the first time, while others may have been rehomed before. For pets, coming home is often a stressful time and giving them time to decompress reduces stress and allows them to acclimate to you, your home and their new lifestyle.
Avoid taking your new dog to busy places like dog parks, social gatherings, friends' homes, and dog-friendly restaurants. Limit gatherings of friends and family at home in those first few weeks. If there are children or other pets in the home, supervise their interaction to ensure boundaries are respected and their interactions are safe. Allow your pet to explore their space at their own pace.
Decompression time will vary for individual animals. Most cats acclimate within 3-14 days, while dogs can take longer (the magic threes). It's also important that you take time to observe and understand your pet's body language so you can respect their boundaries and needs. Check out some basic guides for dog body language and cat body language - they can be especially helpful for kids.
2. Provide Enrichment
Species-specific enrichment is critical to your new pet's needs. Enrichment can sound like an intimidating and structured thing... but at its' root, enrichment is really just a way of saying: give your new pet the space and tools they need to just be a pet.
Dogs typically want time to sniff, chew, lick, and explore. Enrichment toys like puzzles and treat dispensers can help meet your dog's need for stimulation and entertainment while they accomplish basic tasks like eating meals or getting treats. And active dogs, of course, also appreciate time playing with toys and going for walks. But always explore carefully with your new dog; be cautious of stressors in the environment like other dogs, cars, people, and the many sights and sounds of our busy world.
For cats, an enriching home environment is often one that affords space to climb and scratch, hide, and observe their new surroundings. This can include items like cat trees, but most cats are equally happy with cardboard scratchers and boxes and blankets that give them a space all to their own. Also plan to have toys for your cat so they can interact with you or just play on their own.
3. Establish a Routine
Frequent changes in the environment during those early post-adoption days can increase a pet's stress and anxiety. In contrast, a predictable and controlled space reduces stress and helps your pet acclimate to the common sights and sounds of their new environment. Remember: your pet has just experienced a big change, the sooner you can establish a consistent routine, the better.
This means ensuring meals, walks, and play time all happen around the same time each day. And applying the same logic to your pet's space will help as well! Have a designated area for your pet's beds, toys, and food & water bowls. This is especially important for pets with anxiety or other behavior needs.
Give it Time
Setting expectations for your pet's transition to the home is critical. And tips above are just the beginning. Every pet is an individual, and so are their needs. While some pets adapt quickly, others need some extra time and support as they shift to a new life. Be patient with them (and yourself!) as your pet adapts to their new life. Giving them the space and time they need will help ensure your pet has the support they need to become a happy and loving member of your family.
When you find yourself with an animal emergency, it's important to know who to call and what they can and can't help with. Learn more below.
HSSW serves as the shelter for all pets picked up by Clark County Animal Control. And many more pets who are found by members of our community are also brought to HSSW. If you're looking for a lost pet, you can check our website to see a full listing of all found pets in our care. We also provide a listing of all found pets in our community - these listings are only those which have been reported to us and we may have limited information about their circumstances.
If you need assistance with lost/found pets in person, our Admissions Team is here for you every day from noon - 6:00. And if you need help before noon, contact us and we may be able to help.
Clark County Animal Protection and Control
In Clark County, reports of animal welfare concerns, should be directed to Clark County Animal Control or your local animal control agency. You'll find a full list of local agencies and how to contact them on our animal welfare resources page. When Clark County Animal Control picks up an animal, they will bring it to HSSW so it can receive the shelter and care it needs.
They also handle reports of animal violations, animals roaming at large, animal licensing, and other services. Learn more on the Clark County Animal Control website.
I Paw'd it Forward
I Paw'd if Forward is nonprofit organization that provides support for lost and found pet services in the greater Clark County area. They offer trapping and tracking for lost dogs, chip scanning, 24/7 on-call support, and help reuniting lost pets with their families, and more. They partner with both HSSW and Clark County Animal Control to help ensure our community is safe for pets in need. You can learn more about their services at ipawditforward.org.
If you have an animal emergency, contact 311 or 911. If you need to contact a local emergency vet for your pet's medical needs, here's a list of local emergency and urgent care clinics.
Unleash Your Heart!
A party that supports the animals? We can't think of anything better! Tickets are now available for our annual Unleash Your Heart Gala & Auction. Join us October 7 for a night you won't forget. The evening will include great food and drink, touching stories of impact, and opportunities to bid on incredible packages in our live auction.
But the fun isn't limited to the night of the event. Our Virtual Silent Auction opens September 29 with amazing packages including unique experiences, local getaways, international travel, packages for you and your pet, and much more! Attendance at the Gala is not required to participate in the silent auction, so you can support the event from wherever you are!