Welcoming Home a New Pet

Welcoming Home a New Pet

Congratulations on your newly adopted pet! The information below answers a lot of the most common questions we get from new pet owners. If you have any questions with transitioning your new pet, please call the shelter at (970) 625-8808.

Important Information for All Animals

Gradually transitioning your pet to a new food will help with tummy troubles. The shelter sent you home with a sample of the food your pet was eating. Mix the two brands of food together until you have transitioned them to the new food.

It is very important to have your pet wear a collar, license and ID tag with your current contact information at all times – even if your pet has a microchip. A tag provides the needed information to get your pet home quickly. Make sure to purchase your dog’s license from the town or county you live in.

All dogs and cats adopted from Rifle Animal Shelter are microchipped. If your pet’s collar and ID tag fall off or are removed, a microchip gives your pet a permanent form of identification which increases the likelihood that they will be returned home. We also offer microchipping as a low-cost service for any pets that you might already have at home. Click here to learn more. ( can you link to the page microchipping that will be under the services tab?

For the first several weeks, it is a good idea to monitor your newly adopt pet and current pet(s) interactions closely before allowing both pets to roam freely while unsupervised. Make sure to pick up all toys, give each animal separate water bowls and feed in separate food dishes. Make sure to supervise all pets while eating or feed in separate areas.

Tips for Introducing Your Newly Adopted Cat into the House

Cats have a harder time transitioning to new environments then dogs. It is important to go slowly and remember that the introduction can take anywhere from a few days to a month. Keep your newly adopted cat in a separated small room with her litter box, food, water and toys for several days. Feed your current pets and the newly adopted cat on each side of the door to this room. This interaction will allow them to associate something good with each other.

Once your newly adopted cat is settled in and your current pet is calm, you can introduce them face-to-face. If your current pet is a cat, put your new cat in her carrier and allow your resident cat to enter the room. They may do some sniffing or they may sit and stare at each other. If your current pet is a dog, put the dog on a leash and allow your newly adopted cat to approach him at her own pace. If there is any sign of aggression or fear separate them and continue short “happy” meetings until both animals are comfortable.

Items to Purchase


  • Collar and ID tag with your current contact information (even if you plan to keep your cat indoors)
  • Bowls for food and water
  • Food
  • Microchip: All kittens and cats will be microchipped at the time of adoption for no additional charge. We also offer this as a low-cost service for pets you might already have at home.
  • Cat carrier
  • Litter boxes, litter, and a litter scoop
  • Pet bed or cozy place to sleep
  • Toys and scratching post
  • Treats
  • Cat nail trimmers and a brush for grooming


  • License tag from the city or county you live in
  • Collar and ID tag with your current contact information
  • Leash
  • Bowls for food and water
  • Food
  • Microchip: All puppies and dogs will be microchipped at the time of adoption for no additional charge. We also offer this as a low-cost service for pets you might already have at home.
  • Bags to pick up waste when out for a walk
  • Large dog crate if you are crate training (ask shelter staff for information on this)
  • Dog carrier for small dogs or puppies
  • Pet bed or cozy place to sleep
  • Sturdy toys that will not be choking hazards
  • Treats
  • Dog nail trimmers, dog shampoo and a brush for grooming
  • Tips for Introducing Your Newly Adopted Dog into the House

    Take your new dog on a walk shortly after you get home. An exercised dog is calmer and will have an easier time fitting into your home. Be calm and relaxed around your new pet. If you are nervous, your new pet will be nervous. Your new dog may not walk like a pro on a leash. Give them a chance to get to know the good things about you before you start leash training. We highly recommend no pull halters or head halters to help train dog to walk well on a leash. Treats and praise also get your new dog walking by your side. An obedience class is a great way to bond with your new dog and get the behaviors you want to see started. Many trainers will discount your classes because you adopted your dog from a shelter. Your new dog wants to do the right thing. Give them some time and patience and you will have a well behaved family member. Hold off on a bath or cutting the dog’s nails until your dog knows you better.

    Never leave a child with a dog unattended no matter how much you trust the dog or the child. Be sure all children in the house are respectful of the new pet and treat it with kindness. Never let a child sit on or ride a dog. Be careful and never let your children put their face into the dog’s face. Toddlers can worry some dogs because they are eye level with them and toddlers are unpredictable in how they walk and move. Be extremely cautious with toddlers and a new dog. Watch carefully how your dog reacts to the children around food and toys.

    Use positive reinforcement training methods and treats to train your dog. Accidents will happen in the house. Reward the behaviors you want with praise instead of getting upset at the behaviors you do not want. Praise your dog when they ask to go outside. Praise them when they relieve themselves outside. Be the most fun and exciting person in the world when they come to you when you call them instead of yelling at them when they don’t. If your dog likes to chew, get them plenty of toys they can chew on so they have the right things to chew on instead of your furniture or shoes. Treats, fun toys and more treats will get your dog doing what you want them to do. You will have a much more balanced and well-adjusted dog with positive training methods that are based on rewards than you will if you chose to punish negative behaviors. Dogs become fearful and nervous when they are constantly corrected with negative consequences. Dogs do not understand what you are upset with unless you catch them at the exact moment they are doing the behavior. Dogs live in the moment. They will associate the situation you got upset with them at as the behavior they are not supposed to do instead of the one you wanted to correct. They will not make the connection between what they did 5 minutes ago let alone hours ago to why you are currently upset with them. They may look guilty or act like they really understand what they did wrong, but they do not. Be patient and remember how much they love you.