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7 Things to Do When You Bring Your Dog Home
Having a dog is a big commitment. Many dog owners regard these loyal creatures as part of the family.
When introducing a dog to its new home, keep in mind that your new companion is still unfamiliar about where they are and what their new routine will be with you.
Yes, it’s tempting to make the house as open as possible as a sort of warm welcome for your new dog.
However, if you start off letting your dog run about, jump on the furniture (or people), and chew on just about anything lying around the house, this could mean a host of unwanted behavior being learned at the onset.
Being too lax at this stage could end up with a lot of future behavioral issues for you and your dog.
Establishing a few healthy rules and housebreaking the dog is critical in making a smooth transition for both your new dog and family.
A good guide for bringing a newly adopted dog home
Here are 7 essential things to do when you bring your dog home the first time:
- Make the car ride as smooth as possible.
A car ride can be quite stressful for dogs, especially those who have never been on one before. It’s something that gets pups scared, and even make adult dogs feel rattled.
So how can you make the ride bearable?
One important tip is to plan the trip using the fastest route. Don’t make any unnecessary stops. Go straight home when it’s pick-up day. If you live a bit far from the shelter, make a few stops to let your new dog stretch for a few minutes or rehydrate.
Regarding your driving style, try to be as cautious as possible. No passenger wants a bumpy ride, and the same goes for dogs who are still generally unaware of what’s happening.
If you’re worried that it would be too much for you to do alone, it would be best to have another person come along with you. With a calming presence seated right beside him, your pup will likely feel less nervous during the car ride.
- Be calm and low-key.
It may be an exciting time for everyone in your family, but greeting the newly arrived pooch with too much excitement may not give the best overall vibe for the dog.
Remember, everything is entirely unfamiliar to the dog. A strange place with strange people could potentially overwhelm the dog.
And if you adopted a shelter dog, chances are that dog has bounced from shelter to shelter, leaving it confused and unclear about the future.
So forget about hosting a welcome party or any of that fanfare. Your new dog would benefit more from a non-eventful welcome more than any crowded party.
The ideal scenario would be when your whole family accepts the dog into your home, but not provide more than the appropriate amount of attention or affection for a couple of days.
- Go for a walk.
When you arrive home, you don’t necessarily have to go inside right away. You could have a nice walk around the neighborhood with your new companion. What this does is help your dog calm down (if they’re too excited), and familiarize them to the new environment they’ll be in from now on.
Keep their leash on during the walk and be in command of the pace, always walking in front of your new dog. This establishes authority on your part early on.
- Take a tour around the home.
After a nice walk, you can take your dog inside, still leading the dog. You can even train them to sit or lie down as you open the door. Again, this reinforces your authority and keeps the whole event orderly.
Once inside, take your new dog on a tour around the house. Lead them from room to room and spend a few moments in each space.
As your dog might still be nervous about being in an unfamiliar place, you don’t have to talk too much during the tour. Body language or sound cues (e.g. finger snap) will be enough for your dog to understand what’s okay and what’s not.
Try not to let them sniff around or wander aimlessly. Always lead the way. And this applies to the backyard space, too!
If you’re consistent at the onset, you’re already teaching your dog some much-needed boundaries and rules that will make both of you co-exist happily.
- Let your dog decompress.
You’ll need to give them some space to decompress and absorb the new environment.
Set up a secure, cozy area where the dog can hang out for a while. A crate with a bed or blankets will do.
If you’re planning to keep your new pup in the living room or kitchen, create a gated space. This helps your dog avoid causing any damage to your belongings, and it will also prevent accidents, i.e. ingesting harmful food or running away.
Also, don’t engage in rough play just yet. Instead, let the dog get comfortable enough to approach you. If you have children, try to remind them not to be too playful towards the dog for at least a few days. Explain to them that the dog needs some space to get used to the family and the home first.
- Introduce your new dog to other pets.
If you have a resident dog(s), let your new pup meet your other dog outside, in an area free from distractions like food or toys. If you have more than one pet, introduce one dog at a time.
Keep it calm and relaxed, with you acting as the calm-assertive leader of the pack. Keep leashes loose.
Don’t leave both dogs alone together at this initial meeting until you are certain that there are no tense or aggressive feelings between the two.
Meanwhile, if you own a cat, keep your cat secure until you can gauge how your new dog will react. Again, don’t leave both pets out of sight, and manage their initial interactions.
- Start establishing a daily routine.
Dogs benefit from structure, so it’s important to implement healthy routines early on so that your new dog will thrive with your family.
Figure out the best schedule to accommodate rest, meals, hygiene breaks, and exercise – and try to stick to it!
When it comes to feeding, you need to consult with your vet about the recommended food and amount based on breed, age, size, and health of your pet. This has to be done prior to bringing the dog home.
As regards sleeping, place the crate or bed in a quiet and clean dog-proofed area. Don’t put your new dog in an uninhabited location like the garage or basement because this will be stressful for the dog.
Of course, your dog needs daily exercise. In the beginning, it’s best to keep walks short because you’re still observing your new dog’s behavior outside. Avoid interaction with other dogs and other people until you are both familiar with each other.
Having a new dog brought home will be a big adjustment for both your family and the dog. Make this transition period more convenient all around by following these tips. With enough preparation and understanding, you will be able to create a warm and pleasant home for your new companion.