Adopting a Rescue Pet in the KW Area? Here's What You Need to Know

Moving into a new home soon? Many folks making the transition from a rented home love the fact that they are finally free to have pets, and so the idea of adopting a dog or cat becomes an appealing one.

And why not? In the Kitchener Waterloo region there are all kinds of dog friendly neighbourhood amenities - and some great dog walking parks, pup friendly trails and tons of open space! And we have it on good authority (from some local felines) that Waterloo Region homes are great for cats too.

But before you do bring a new pet home to your new home - now that there's no landlord to tell you can't - there are some things you should know about preparing your new home for your newest family member.

Pet-proof your home

Every pup will act differently when being introduced to a new home, so it’s impossible to ever be fully prepared when bringing home a rescue dog. However, as a safety precaution, be sure to keep anything that could be harmful or poisonous out of reach, and remove any belongings of yours that might get damaged or broken by your rescue pet.

Below are more precautions you can take to prepare your home for a rescue dog and which will make for a smoother transition.

  • Make sure you trash cans are covered and secured

  • Keep poisonous plants and household cleaners locked away

  • Put up pet gates to rooms you don’t want them to explore yet

  • Tape down exposed cords

  • Keep the toilet seat closed

  • Put away anything that could be a choking hazard, or you don’t want them to play with

  • Remove fragile items from their reach, like vases or picture frames

  • Make sure all medications are stored away

  • Screen off fireplaces and wood stoves

  • Create a temporary barrier to block off furniture with wood accents, upholstery, or that can be easily damaged

Set up a section of your home as a safe area

Designate an area or room in your home as a safe and private area for your pet. Consider using baby gates, pet gates, and closing doors to block areas that are off-limits. This way, your rescue puppy can become familiar with your home incrementally and at their own pace, taking in the sights and smells without becoming overwhelmed.

You will want to remove any belongings that could be damaged or shouldn’t be eaten, and if possible, find an area with easy-to-clean floors near the center of activity so your rescue pet doesn’t feel isolated. Their new smaller spaces will help your rescue pet to feel safe and secure in their new home.

Double-check the locks and screens on your windows and doors

Some smart pets are able to open windows and doors themselves, so be sure to check that everything is secure and the locks won’t budge. This is especially important if you’re bringing home a rescue dog who has the ability to climb or leap onto window sills. If you keep your windows and doors open for air circulation, purchasing durable pet-proof screens will eliminate any tears or punctures from clawing, chewing, and scratching at the screen, and will ultimately keep your pet inside and out of harm’s way.

Fill your home with pet essentials and toys

It’s important to stock up on pet supplies before bringing home a rescue dog. To ease the transition from the shelter to your home, consider buying these items from your local pet store beforehand, as is appropriate for the type of furry friend you choose.

  • Collar and pet ID tags

  • Dog leash (standard dog leashes and harnesses are recommended to begin with)

  • Pet food, preferably the same kind your rescue pet was being fed at the shelter

  • Food and water bowls

  • Pet toys

  • Treats

  • Bed

  • Potty training pads

  • A crate, if you intend on crate training your rescue dog

  • A few grooming essentials, like a brush and shampoo

Prepare your home (and yourself) for accidents

When accidents happen – and they will happen – it’s best to clean them up immediately to avoid stains and eliminate odors. For carpet and upholstery, soak up as much of the liquid as possible by placing newspaper on top of a stack of paper towels. Stand on the soiled area or apply pressure to the area for about a minute. Next, use clean water and blot dry using paper towels.

Use a pet odor neutralizer or a stain remover if the area still looks stained. Dog pee pads are a great way to teach your dog where it is okay to use the bathroom before eventually going potty outside.

Designate a space for their food and water

It’s best to keep your pet’s food, water, and toys in their safe area to begin with, but you’ll eventually want to establish a location for their supplies. This could be near an exterior door, perhaps to your backyard, and an area your pet can have some time to themselves. A laundry room or mudroom is a great place to store these things, but don’t forget to secure anything that could be toxic. Designate an area to store toys, install hooks for leashes and collars, and store pet food in a container with a lid.

Dog-proof your backyard

It’s no secret that dogs love the outdoors and find any excuse to bolt for the door. And while your rescue dog thinks it’s all fun and games, it’s important to take the necessary steps to pet-proof your yard to keep your dog from running off and to keep them safe from backyard dangers such as plants that could be toxic to your rescue pet. Here are a few steps to take to dog-proof your backyard before bringing home a rescue dog:

  • Fence in your yard

  • Remove toxic plants and flowers, such as tulips, daffodils, and hydrangea

  • If you have a pool, install a fence around it to prevent them from going in then not be able to get back out

  • Designate an area in your yard where your rescue dog will use the bathroom

  • Keep your yard clean of debris and bushes under control

  • Make sure your trash cans are closed and secured

  • Mow your lawn regularly

Have your local veterinarian information handy

Find a highly recommended veterinarian close to your home, and research where the closest 24-hour emergency animal hospital is just in case. (we can help if you need a recommendation in the KW area) Be sure to jot down the number and keep it somewhere everyone in your household will be able to easily find it, perhaps the fridge, a message board, or the drawer where you keep your dog’s important documents.

Not sure where you can head in the KW Region to find a new friend? The Kitchener Waterloo Humane Society was founded in 1927 to look after the welfare of animals in Kitchener, Waterloo, and the greater surrounding area. The Stratford Perth Humane Society was established in 1973 as a branch of the Ontario SPCA. In 2012, they merged and are now known as The Humane Society of Kitchener Waterloo and Stratford Perth (KWSPHS).

Today, KWSPHS is one of the largest humane societies in Ontario. They are open despite COVID-19 restrictions, by appointment and are a great place to find your new best friend. Please contact them here.