You’ve wanted a new dog for a while. You’ve done your research, talked with tons of breeders and/or rescue groups, and you’ve finally found “the one”. Most people in this situation are really excited about finally bringing their new addition home. The suspense has been building for a while and your new dog or puppy has finally arrived!
Even though you are really excited, remember that your new family member is probably undergoing a lot of stress. Puppies coming from the breeder are being separated from their parents, siblings, and familiar people for the first time. Puppies and dogs coming from the shelter are undergoing a big change in their daily routine and care as well. Making the transition as easy as possible for your dog will help him settle in more quickly so that you can get busy getting to know each other. Here are a few tips to help you and your dog get off on the right foot for a long, happy relationship.
Puppy Proof the House before his Arrival
An easy transition period for your dog actually starts before he comes home. Make sure that your home is a safe place for him by identifying and removing potential hazards before you let your new dog loose in the house. Puppies are really good at getting into everything as they are exploring and learning about their new surroundings. Curiosity can get the best of an older dog as well, especially one that might not have a lot of experience living in a house with people. Make sure that there is nothing that might accidentally become a chew toy and that there are no hazardous houseplants in the area. Not only will this keep your new dog safe and comfortable, it also prevents you from accidentally falling into the habit of following your new dog around and telling him “No!” anytime he finds something of yours that you don’t want him to touch. Also, just because you have puppy proofed the house doesn’t mean that you don’t have to supervise your dog; you will definitely want to keep an eye on him to make sure that he doesn’t find something that you’ve missed and to make sure that he doesn’t have any potty accidents in the house. Follow this link for more puppy proofing tips!
Keep the First Day as Low Key as Possible
It’s natural to want to invite your friends and your extended family to meet your new puppy when he first comes home. However, it’s probably better for your new dog to let him adjust to his new surroundings with less excitement. When you first bring your puppy home, let him explore his new surroundings at his own pace. Show him where the potty area is, where his food and water is, where his toys are, where he will be hanging out when you’re away, and where he will be sleeping. Just exploring his new house can be sensory overload for most dogs. Once your dog has had a chance to settle in, then you can start introducing him to friends and family members that will become part of his life.
Bring Something Familiar from the Breeder or Rescue
Having an item that’s familiar to your dog can do wonders in helping him transition to your home from the breeder or rescue group. Some breeders will send dogs and puppies home with a blanket, towel, or a toy to help them settle more easily when they get to their new home. You can place these items in your dog’s crate or leave them in the area where he is going to be spending most of his time to provide some comfort. If your breeder or rescue group doesn’t send anything home with their dogs, that’s ok. Bring a blanket and a couple of toys with you when you go to pick up your dog, and these can become the items that you put in with him when he’s in his crate or the area in the house where he’s going to stay. Those items will become “his” pretty quickly and can help soothe him or keep him entertained during the adjustment period. Also, check with your breeder or the rescue group to find out what kind of food your dog has been eating and make sure that you have some on hand for him for the first couple of days. Changing the type of food that he eats too abruptly can cause an upset stomach. If you plan on changing your dog’s food, it’s better to let him settle in for a few days before you start mixing some of the new food into his diet.
Be Clear About the Rules
Before you bring your new dog home, have a family meeting to decide what the “rules” are for your new dog. Where is he going to sleep? When is he going to eat? Are there any “off limits” areas in the house? When is he going to go for a walk or to the park to play? Where is he going to go potty? Is he allowed on the furniture? There are many more questions that can be added to this list, but you get the idea. Deciding on what the rules are before your dog comes home will give you a chance to come up with a plan on how to enforce them as well as a daily routine for your dog. Dogs are creatures of habit, and having a routine to follow every day can help them settle into their new homes more quickly and easily. You can start with the new schedule on the first day so that your dog can start getting a handle on how to behave in his new home.
With a little forethought and preparation, you can do a lot to help your new family member adjust to his new surroundings and start off on the right foot for a long, happy relationship!
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