Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

Patience is Truly a Virtue and a Gift – Introducing a New Pet to Your Home

By Lisa Velenovsky

Patience is Truly a Virtue and a Gift – Introducing a New Pet to Your Home

It’s 2022, and you’re determined that this year will be better than ever! Perhaps your personal happiness plan includes adding a new pet to your family. Whether you’re a first-time pet owner or a seasoned pet parent adding another furry (or not-so-furry) friend to the household, the road to success begins well before a pet crosses your threshold.

What’s Your Perfect Pet? Of course, step #1 is deciding what type. It’s important to be realistic about your lifestyle and what’s required to responsibly care for a specific pet. Longing for a puppy, but no time for training, regular exercise, and dealing with a high-energy ball of fur? Maybe a mature, independent cat is a better fit. Or perhaps it’s really a goldfish you need.

If you’re not sure, head to Chewy’s “What Pet Should I Get” quiz – – or check out Best Friends Animal Society’s list of questions to ask yourself when choosing a pet –

Whatever you decide, everyone who will be living with the pet, including children and other pets, should be part of the selection process whenever possible. And while you may be tempted to surprise someone with a new pet as a gift, consider giving a gift certificate for the pet instead, allowing the recipient to be part of the selection process since a pet is a lifetime commitment.

Next, you need to prepare for their arrival into your home and life.

Patience is key, especially if your new pet is a cat or dog, which the overwhelming majority are. Even if you’re an old hand at this, every pet will have different requirements.

Have a safe room or space already set up with appropriate bedding, crates, gates, food, water and toys, and set up a few hiding places if it’s for a cat. Allowing immediate access to the entire house can be overwhelming and cause anxiety, so it’s best to provide your pet with an area where they can feel safe and secure.

Have an integration plan. In addition to all the “stuff,” you need a plan to slowly and safely introduce the new pet into your home to build trust and comfort. Dogs especially like a routine; a consistent schedule can help alleviate some stress. There are many great resources for successfully integrating your new pet to your home online, such as and

Have patience. It’s normal to hope your new pet will feel instantly at home. Some do. The reality is, your new companion needs time to decompress and adjust, even if they are wagging their tail or purring when you meet them. You know they’re heading to a great new life, but in their minds, their world is turning upside down, which can cause wariness and fearfulness in a new environment.

The timing will differ from pet to pet and can take hours or months. Don’t get discouraged! According to the Richmond SPCA, a typical shelter dog takes at least 6-8 weeks to fully adjust, and around 6 months for full integration. As for cats… well, they have their own timeline, and they’re not talking, but experts say three months (at a minimum) is not unusual.

Certified animal behavior consultant Janet Velenovsky of Kaizen Pet Training & Behavior says patience during the adjustment period is extremely important. “My clients never regret taking it slowly, but lots of them regret pushing too fast.”

During this period, it’s important to keep a close eye on your new pet for signs of stress, anxiety and depression; address them immediately, adjust your plan accordingly, and get professional help from your vet or an animal behavior consultant or trainer quickly. Your pet’s body language is key to understanding how they’re doing. For more information on body language, see

If you have children…The new-pet-introduction process gives parents an opportunity to teach important, lifelong lessons in empathy and responsibility through modeling appropriate behavior and age-appropriate education.

Children should learn, among other things:

  • To always approach animals calmly.
  • To recognize common signs of distress in cats and dogs, respect your pet’s boundaries, and not agitate them.
  • That a new pet, even if it’s the same type or breed as an existing pet, doesn’t necessarily have the same personality, and may react differently.

Very young children do not have the maturity to control aggression and anger, so they should be monitored with pets at all times.

For more information on children and pets, see

If you have existing pets…As with children, it’s important to approach introductions carefully to start pet-to-pet relationships off on the right paw.

No matter how much experience you have, remember:

  • If a new pet lived with other dogs/cats in the past, that doesn’t guarantee that they will get along with your pets.
  • If you have multiple pets, introduce them one at a time so that the new pet does not get overwhelmed.
  • Keep pets at a distance and separated with their own space, toys, and feeding areas until they’ve had time to adjust.
  • Pay attention to body language at each step.
  • Reward positive behavior and interactions.
  • Pull back and repeat process steps as necessary.
  • Contact your vet or a certified animal behaviorist or trainer sooner rather than later to deal with persistent signs of anxiety and stress or behavioral issues.

And, of course, patience!

While some integrations will be lightening quick, most will take days, weeks or even months. No matter how hard it is, you need to be on the pet’s adjustment schedule, not yours. Your job is not to decide how long that is; it’s to help your new pet get there well and happy.

Perhaps A.A. Milne said it best in Winnie-the-Pooh: “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” And, oh, what a wonderful day for a new pet that will be!

About the Author: Lisa Velenovsky is a long-time resident of Alexandria, an animal lover and a volunteer at King Street Cats. She wishes to thank her cats Windsor, Nina and Parker for all their “help” in completing this article.


0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes