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Bringing home a dog or a cat for the first time can be a special but daunting time for both you and your pet – that’s why we’ve created a handy new puppy checklist and have some top tips for bringing a kitten home.

Your new family member will most likely be both nervous and excitable, and you’ll want to make sure they’re as comfortable as can be. It takes some forward thinking to do this and preparation of your home for a puppy or cat, so here’s some advice that’s perfect for first-time dog owners and first-time cat owners.


Preparation and patience are key to building a happy relationshipThe key to helping your new dog make a successful adjustment to your home is being prepared and being patient. It can take anywhere from two days to two months for you and your pet to adjust to each other. The following tips can help ensure a smooth transition.


Just as you would prepare your home for a new baby, you should do the same for a new pet. Before bringing a puppy home, choose a room for your puppy where they can be kept for the first few weeks to adjust to their new surroundings and feel safe and comfortable. However, if your new pet is a kitten, avoid a room with full-length curtains, as your kitten could run up them and perch at the top.

It’s also very important to be aware of potential hazards around the home as puppies and kittens can get into very small spaces! Some tips to avoid potential hazards include:

  • Block up gaps behind kitchen appliances and under fitted cupboards

  • Screen off open fireplaces

  • Close all external windows and doors

  • Place cleaning fluids, disinfectants and medicines in cupboards

  • Place electric cables out of reach so your pet can’t get tangled up in them

  • Close toilet lids

  • Remove fragile ornaments and any tiny objects that could be swallowed

  • Remove all items that may be knocked over (such as vases or glass ornaments) or that could be chewed on (such as reading glasses or books)

It’s also important to remember that certain plants can be harmful to our furry friends, so avoid lilies, poinsettias, azaleas, amaryllis and ivy, which can all be poisonous for animals. If you’re unsure, double-check with your vet.



Although you’ll want to introduce your new pet to your friends and family, when you bring your puppy home, don’t be tempted to invite everyone round straight away. Your puppy may be a little anxious; remember they’re in a completely new environment. The initial 24 hours should be a calm period of adjustment, so any children in the household should understand that your new pet should be left alone for a while. Wait a few days so that they have time to settle in, and then allow family members to visit individually rather than all at once.

It’s important to let your puppy explore the house so they become familiar with their new environment, but make sure you keep a watchful eye on them – just like babysitting! And if they hide, don’t coax them out; spend time in the room reading a book or watching television, for example, to get your new family member used to your presence.


  • Food and water bowls: For cats and kittens, position these away from the litter tray. For dogs and puppies, heavy ones are best so that they can’t be knocked over.

  • Pet food: Try to feed your pet the best-quality food that you can – but when introducing new foods, do so gradually. Ask your breeder or vet for advice on food.

  • Cat litter and litter tray: Use unscented litter and place the litter tray away from food bowls.

  • Carrier/basket: Ideal for taking your new dog home and for visits to the vet. Put a washable liner inside.

  • Scratching post: For cats and kittens – this could save your sofa and carpet!

  • Toys: Get toys that you and your puppy can play with together.

  • Chew items: These are essential for puppies to help with teething, and in general for dogs to prevent them chewing your shoes.

  • Grooming equipment: This includes a brush and comb, especially important for longhaired breeds.

  • Collar and lead: For dogs and puppies, accustom them to wearing a collar or harness and lead in the home and garden – it should help make those first walks much easier.

  • Thermal bedding, heat pads and blankets: This is for your puppy’s comfort – especially on the first few nights in their new home.


Dogs are never too young, or old, to start training! Because dogs are always learning, teaching a dog that certain behaviour results in good things happening means they’ll be more likely to behave that way again. Training your dog is an important part of being a responsible owner, because it can prevent unwanted behaviour problems developing.



Animal shelters take in animals with widely varying backgrounds, some of whom have not been previously vaccinated. Inevitably, despite the best efforts of shelter workers, viruses can be spread and may occasionally go home with adopted animals. If you already have dogs or cats at home, make sure they are up-to-date on their shots and in good general health before introducing your new pet dog.

Take your new dog to the veterinarian within a week after adoption. There, they will receive a health check and any needed vaccinations. If your dog has not been spayed or neutered, make that appointment! There are already far too many homeless puppies and dogs; don't let your new pet add to the problem. Most likely, the shelter will require that you have your pet spayed or neutered anyway.

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