Pet ownership is not as simple as bringing a new furry friend into the home and watching as it instantaneously adapts upon arrival. Not only are they curious enough to get into things they shouldn’t be getting into, but they are dealing with anxiety brought on from living in new, unfamiliar territory. It can be a lot to take on for first-time owners.
“The bottom line is, be patient and take your time,” says Ramona Kemberling, of Lawrence Humane Society.
Whether it’s keeping them safe or making them feel comfortable in the home, Kemberling and other local pet experts have some helpful guidelines for pet-proofing the house for your new companion.
Get on their level
To gain perspective, get onto floor level to see what hazardous items need to be removed from the floor. “Pet proof your home along the same lines as you would when toddler proofing,” says Sherry Emerson, owner of Pet World, 711 W. 23rd St.
Keep dangling wires from lamps, televisions and other electronic equipment off the floor and out of reach for smaller puppies and handheld animals, Kemberling says.
Some plants are poisonous so it’s important for you to do your research and make sure those plants in your home don’t fall on that list, Kemberling says. According to the American Humane Society, more than 700 plants have been identified as harmful to pets that cause nausea or even death.
“Find out what’s not compatible with your pet,” Kemberling says.
Keep important items off the floor
Make sure you have nothing on the floor that you don’t want chewed up, Kemberling says. On that note, buy puppies any chew toys that are durable and allow them to teethe.
For dogs especially, Kemberling says, make sure to clean up any leaked antifreeze because it’s sweet and dogs will lap it up. “It could be deadly,” she says.
Chocolate and grapes are two food items that should stay far away from your cat or dog, Kemberling says. “Also anything that could cause you gas can cause some serious digestive issues for your pet,” she says.
Keep the trash can hidden away in a closet or with a closed lid, where neither cats or dogs can get into it, Kemberling says.
Crates, kennels and gates
If you train your dog from the start to go into the kennel, they tend to go in on their own when they're older, says Raven Rajani, owner of Loving Paws animal assisted therapy. If your dog is small enough, baby gates are another way to keep them from getting into certain areas.
Introducing pets to each other
Cats are more territorial than dogs, Kemberling says, but either way, introducing a new pet into the home with other pets can be tricky. She offers a few ways to get them acclimated:
• Make sure the new cat can be in a quiet room (extra bedroom) alone for a few days to get used to new smells or sounds in the home.
• Upon introduction, keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers in case of unpleasant interaction.
• Buy multiple litter boxes for multiple cats. When a cat refuses to use the litter box it almost always takes care of the problem. “Some are particular about who uses their potty,” Kemberling says.
• Switch around the bedding for both cats and dogs to get all used to the others’ scents.
• Feed cats and dogs separately until you’re confident they won’t eat the other’s food.