How to Prepare Your Apartment for a New Pet

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Getting a new pet is an exciting event that brings joy to adults and children alike. When considering which kind of pet to get—dogs, cats, hamsters, etc.—you must take into consideration how big your living space is, how much care the animal needs, and how much free time everyone in the family has to devote to the new pet.

One of the most important steps in getting a new pet is to make sure pets are allowed in your rental apartment. If you own your home, you can get as many pets as you want. However, many pets end up abandoned in shelters due to pet restrictions in leases. Once you’ve gotten your landlord’s approval in writing and decided on what kind of pet to get, there is still more work to be done to acclimate both the pet and the humans.

Welcoming Your New Pet into Your Apartment

Some pets require extra preparation before bringing them home. However, even a pet that will spend most of its time contained in a tank, such as a snake, needs certain items to thrive and be content.

new pet in apartment

The type of animal you choose as a pet will greatly determine how much time and money you’ll need to spend to care for their safety and wellbeing. However, there are a few essential steps that can be applied to any type of pet moving into your family’s apartment.

Pet-Proofing Your Apartment

Pets—even the ones in tanks—are curious, nimble, and adventurous. They can get in and out of places you’d never imagine. If your new pet is a puppy or a kitten, the countertop is an oasis that they will never stop trying to reach. It’s best to remove anything remotely edible from the counters or tables and safely secure in cupboards or drawers.

Dogs, especially puppies, love to chew anything they can get their mouths on. Remote controls, glasses, and even retainers are never safe if left out in the open with an unattended pup. Cats are less destructive than dogs, but they can still wreak havoc on walls and anywhere else they can sink their claws into.

pet broke flower pot

Pet-proofing your apartment is a trial-and-error situation. Even when you think you’ve put everything up on high ground, every day comes with a chance of coming home to something destroyed or chewed up. It’s one of the perils of bringing a pet into your home. Training and supervision are the best ways to prevent destruction from happening, especially with puppies. Remember—dogs live in the moment and won’t understand why they are being punished after the fact. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Create a Space for Your New Pet

Animals can get just as stressed and anxious as humans. Dogs are particularly prone to both general and separation anxiety. You can help ease your new pet into your home by creating a safe space where the animal can go to relax and get away from stress factors. For dogs, a crate can awaken their primal instincts of finding safety in a den.

Cats are notoriously independent and a bit anti-social. The back of a favorite chair or a cat tree can give them an escape from socialization. Even caged pets such as ferrets prefer hammocks in their living spaces to burrow into.

ferret in hammock

This space doesn’t have to be an elaborate structure built into the stairs. It can be as simple as a designated area in the corner of the room. Your new puppy might enjoy a selection from the best dog beds to pamper your pooch, and your cat might love a tree to climb upon or a cat cave.

Purchase Must-Haves Before Bringing the Pet Home

Once you have a pet in your home, you will likely be buying them new toys and treats every time you go to a store with a pet aisle. But there are a few essential items that need to be in your home before the pet arrives. These items can help you to begin training your pet or simply make them more comfortable.

  • Crate, Cage, Pet Bed, etc.

The type of containment will depend on the type of animal. Many new puppy owners swear by crate training their dog for safety and convenience.

  • Food and Treats

Pets have to eat, too. You’ll also need pet bowls to provide food and fresh water to your new pet roommate.

cat dog bed comfortable

  • A Few Toys

All animals, both small and large, furry or scaly love to play, especially if they are in the early stages of life. You can find a toy for just about any creature at your local pet store. However, it can be dangerous to leave the toys out for your pet to reach when you’re not there to supervise.

  • Potty Training Essentials

Some types of animals only require newspaper placed at the bottom of their cages. Dogs and cats require more extensive set-ups. Puppies can be housebroken by using puppy pads for any accidents.

  • Leash and Collar for Dogs

Cats, reptiles, and rodents can also wear collars, but they are far more popular (and necessary) with dogs. A leash and collar are needed to safely walk your new canine friend. The dog’s name and address should be put on a dog tag, attached to the collar, in case they manage a great escape from the apartment.

Schedule Your Pet’s First Visit to the Vet

One of the most expensive responsibilities that come with new pet ownership is the regular veterinary visits. Puppies, in particular, are required to have a series of immunization shots starting at a young age. Any type of animal kept as a pet needs a thorough initial examination by a vet to ensure their good health. The vet keeps detailed records of your pet’s health that you may need if you ever move to a new town or even a new apartment.

Spread Out the Responsibility for the Pet

Some pets are more high maintenance than others. Taking care of a puppy can seem like a full-time job. Each member of the family should be involved in the care of the new pet. Not only does it teach young children responsibility, but it also allows each family member to form their own bond with the pet.

Enjoy Time with Your Pet

rental apartment new pet

Bringing home a new pet can be stressful for everyone in the family, including the pets. Puppies can be particularly challenging. They require a lot of patience and boundaries. Many pets are given up to shelters simply because the family wasn’t ready to care for them. Pets are meant to be a fun addition to any household. If given the proper care from the start, the new pet can become a lifelong companion to the family.

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Mihaela Buzec is a senior writer and online content developer for RentCafe. She covers topics about everything related to the renting lifestyle, from decorating and interior design to finding the right apartment, frugal living, money saving advice, and more. She dives deep into topics of interest, writing well-researched comprehensive guides on subjects such as renting with pets, saving on utilities, or avoiding rental scams to help renters stay informed and live smart.

Mihaela holds a BA in English and German Language and Literature, an MA in Current Linguistics, and she is currently pursuing a PhD in neurolinguistics.

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