So you’re going to be a pet parent? Don’t you wish they came with instructions? A little planning is always necessary when you knowingly welcome a new dog into your home. Naturally, before you adopt a new dog, you probably have at least the necessities and maybe some toys. If you’ve been extra diligent, you may have already arranged for the first vet appointment. But then what?
How do you smoothly transition a new dog into the household? You take it one day at a time. The transition period for dogs is roughly two months, and for cats, it can take as long as four months. We have shared some great advice about introducing housemates. You can find that here.
Day One, aka “Gotcha Day”
Getting off to the right foot – or paw – can set the stage for how your new dog acts at home. Creating boundaries is a key component. Just like with kids, they will test your limits. So how do you set your new fur kid up for success? You start good habits immediately to encourage your new pet to behave in their new home. Change is scary; rescue dogs, in particular, can be saddled with anxiety.
The Ride Home With Your Pet
Even though you’re not within your home, the car ride home is still welcoming your fur baby into your space. It is easy to get excited. But the best way to handle yourself is to remain as calm as possible on the ride home. In the beginning, there isn’t an established bond to draw from, so your comforting voice, or excited tone, is just plain confusing. The last thing you want is to amp up an already nervous dog in a confined, strange place. Their little nervous systems can only take so much.
New to the Neighborhood
It is not atypical for nervous pets to dart from a vehicle, or a partially open home door, the first night they arrive. It’s a pet parent’s nightmare. But there is something that has been proven to help. To avoid this potential disaster, walk your newest fur kid around the block to burn off energy using a proper-fitting collar and an appropriate leash.
Unless you’ve brought home an unvaccinated puppy, introduce the dog to its surrounding environment. Walks will help bring the dog to a calm state, and it will engrain the sights, sounds, and smells of the home environment. Besides, a walk with your dog is one habit you’ll want to keep. Its amazing benefits are both mental and physical.
Welcome Home, Pup!
Setting boundaries immediately is so important. That’s why after the walk, bring your new friend inside and keep them on the leash for a bit longer. Letting them have free reign immediately is a bad idea. It is encouraged to work toward that freedom. But for now, you should still have hold of the leash.
Let the newest family member sightsee and sniff around as you tour the house. Since it is so important to set the stage for long-term success, gentle corrections can be given to unwanted behavior. Immediately correcting unwanted behaviors and praising desired behaviors leaves no room to question what is acceptable and what is not. You should show the dog where it will eat and also where it will sleep. Don’t overwhelm your new pup with a ton of toys all at once. let them go at their own pace as they explore their new surroundings.
Once you’ve walked the neighborhood, given the tour, and located the essentials, show your new pet where they will sleep. Dogs like to have places they can go to get away from the activity of the household. Beds, crates, and kennels make them feel secure. Crating is highly recommended, so remember to always keep their experience with a crate positive. Think of it as giving them their own room.
At this point, you should let the dog off-leash. You never know when you will need to crate your dog in the future, so it’s always smart to get them crate-trained as soon as possible, even if they end up never using one at home.
Two things tend to happen at that point. First, you’ve adopted a firecracker who will make you laugh and has endless energy. Those types will get a second wind and frolic. The other type may snuggle down in the quiet space and recoup from the day’s excitement.
Don’t take this as the cold shoulder because it’s an experience about finding out how you two operate together and apart. Some simply settle into their new life quicker than others.
Observing Your New Pup
Once all of that is taken care of, jumping right in and fawning over this little ball of fur will be tempting. But bad habits are hard to break, and humans and dogs don’t get to spend every waking moment with each other. Wouldn’t that be great?
For the rest of the day, let your new pet remark on what a typical day looks like in your home. If the dog approaches you for attention, you may, of course, give them reassurance. But do not overindulge; save that for later, and you will be thankful for the restraint in the long run.
Good Night, Sweet Dreams
The first night can be the hardest. A kennel can bring peace of mind and security to you and your new fur baby. Leaving them unattended overnight can lead to destruction. Some pet parents will put on classical music or sounds of rain. Others have good luck using calming aromatherapy. You can also cover their kennel with a blanket. Otherwise, it’s like a kid watching late-night television; they’ll never go to sleep. Check out this article to find out if your pup is getting enough sleep.
Pet parents of older dogs will tell you to cherish this time period. The adjustment can feel exhausting, and you’ll both make mistakes. But that’s all part of the journey you signed up for when you adopted the best dog in the world, yours.
Do you have any other tips not covered in this article that helped you when you brought your new dog home? Share your story in the comments below!
Congrats on your new pup!
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. With a Sociology & Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee, she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born in 2016! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR, insured, and proudly completed a full background check successfully. She is committed to ongoing training and education for herself and her team. To learn more, click here.
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