Are you thinking of adopting a pet from your local SPCA or some other place? If so, you may find this article to be of value in making the preparations.

Animal shelters in South Africa are full of pets desperately needing homes. This places a heavy burden on the shelters that can lead to animals being turned away or even being put down. By adopting instead of buying, you can play an important role in solving these problems in a wonderfully humane way and gain a furry friend at the same time.

There are many other benefits in adopting, including the lower cost involved and often finding that adopted pets are already spayed, vaccinated and in good health.

But introducing a new pet can be a stressful experience for everyone involved, so here are some tips in how to do so in the best possible way:

Give the new pet a safe place to live. A climbing cat needs a place where they can climb, look outside and feel safe. Provide a high chair with a warm blanket looking out of a window or door where the cat has a good view of the surroundings. For a cat that likes to be on the ground, creating a garden area for them where they can sniff and explore would be a welcome feature.

Let them explore the home safely. Keep the other pets at bay for a until they have fully explored the area.

Introduce the animals to your home and other animals in a safe and controlled environment e.g. either side of a door or gate. Keep their eating areas separate but in such a way that they still know the other animal is there. (For more information on looking after cats “My cat from hell” gives a loving way of dealing with cats).

Let them first sniff around on a leash, especially the front and back doors. Let them sniff toys of the other dogs, and give them their own toys with which to play.

Get your supplies ready: You will need a food bowl, leash, toys, waste bags, a litter tray.

Pet proof your home by removing dangerous items which a dog might chew e.g. cleaning plastic bottles. Be aware that cats like eating balls of wool which can hurt their insides!

Introduce the family quietly, and one at a time to not overwhelm the pet. This includes the other pets. Always introduce the “dominant” pet first as the other animals will follow their example.

Make sure the existing pets are still given adequate attention to prevent jealousy. Don’t leave the new pets with the other animals until safe, rather keep them in separate rooms if you are going out. Give them an adjustment period for both of you to get to know each other, especially if adopting an adult pet and not a puppy or kitten.

Give the pet a space which is their own, such as a dog bed or blanket and a set area for eating bowls.

Bring the dog straight home from the shelter: Keep away from doing extra errands on the way back as this puts extra strain on the pet.

Stay with the pet for a while, plan time around the pet to be there as much as possible until they are fully settled. Don’t leave a new pet unsupervised for too long.

Keep a routine with daily exercise, feeding times and predictable behaviour.

When greeting the pet, put out the back of your hand where they can sniff you. Avoid surprises and sudden noises while they are around.

During the initial introduction, avoid hugging, kissing, picking up the pet and head petting.

Get your new pet micro-chipped.

For places to adopt in Johannesburg:

www.midrandspca.co.za

www.wetnose.co.za

www.barkingmad.co.za

www.woodrockanimalrescue.com

www.adopt-a-pet.org.za