Bringing a new pet into your life is always a joyous occasion. Whether it’s a tiny puppy or a mature rescue, there’s nothing quite like the experience of welcoming a new dog into your household. But, just like humans, dogs need time to adjust to new environments and routines. To help you successfully introduce a new dog into your home, we’ve compiled these five essential steps to ensure a smooth transition for you and your new canine friend.
Preparing Your Home for the New Dog
Your home must be made ready before your new canine friend makes their debut. Start by puppy-proofing or pet-proofing your living space. This means eliminating any plants that could be harmful to dogs, securing any dangling cords, and ensuring that trash bins have lids that fasten securely. You aim to create a dog-safe environment while teaching boundaries and structure.
It’s of great importance to create sustainable boundaries for your dog/puppy. Start with a kennel, remember if it is a puppy the kennel will need to expand with the size of the dog. Put the kennel in a room that has easy access to the “potty” area outside, this way the dog only has to learn one door to enter and exit to potty train. Even a mature dog must be taught where to do its business. Make sure the kennel is not too big or the dog will use it for a potty spot too. Just simple bedding is needed in the kennel and water if you are leaving it alone for some time. I steer away from food left in a kennel when the dog is unattended for safety issues. If you have a dog who shreds bedding, blankets, or toys, please remove them when your dog is unattended. I would hate for you to spend thousands removing “stuff” from your new dog’s intestines because you want them to have something they are not equipped to have when unattended, safety first. You can leave a proper chew toy that can not be destroyed when left alone, chewing is good for dogs, but destroying is not.
Establishing a Regular Routine
A stable routine is essential for the well-being of a new dog, whether a puppy, a rescue who may have experienced a chaotic past or a second dog. From the moment your dog friend steps into your home, kick start a consistent pattern that involves feeding, exercise, and rest at set intervals. Not only does this help your new pet adjust to their new surroundings, it also aids in-house training and helps strengthen your bond.
Being consistent with structure, boundaries and rules which include: feeding, active training, passive training, play with purpose, a dog feel secure and builds confidence with these set in place. Dogs learn through, patterns and consistency, so be careful what you teach them. They learn very quickly.
You will want to give your new dog everything because you will think with your heart. I beg you to have a plan and stick to it, this will ensure a confident new canine family member. Changes you do not expect will occur, so predictability with your plan will help you not be so stressed which in turn will help your dog.
Be ok going slowly. Your new dog does not need to see everything and be in everything from day 1. In fact the slower you go the more confident your new dog will be.
Remember adding a new pet can be stressful for everyone, it’s new, so take time to plan and stay with the same routine for at least the first 30 days. Then if everyone is adjusting well you can start to slowly add new adventures to your routine.
Encouraging Proper Socialization
Introducing your new dog to other household pets, friends, and family is a critical part of the adjustment process. This should be done slowly, in a controlled setting, and in a way that fosters positive interactions. To help them acclimate to various individuals and other animals, initiate gradual introductions.
Maintaining a positive environment during these interactions is key. The new pet does not need to interact with every human or animal on day one or even day 30. The new pet needs to learn the house rules first and learn how to live amongst the humans and animals before interacting physically with any of the other animals or humans.
Your new dog does not need to greet every human in the house or get pets from them. He needs to learn to be calm and not react to humans or other animals. I know you are all excited to give “love” and affection to your newest family member and this will come as these boundaries are understood by all. The best interaction between you and your new dog should be singular interactions. Don’t bombard the dog with tons of stimuli. Reward your dog’s good behavior with treats and verbal praise only after they do something for the reward. Don’t just shove treats in their face unless the dog actually did something. If they seem apprehensive or overwhelmed, it’s essential to give them the space they need and delay the introduction until they are more at ease, this could take a day, week or in some cases months.
Remember, the primary goal here is not to rush the socialization process but to make it based on understanding of your relationship first. This helps in fostering positive memories and associations with different environments and people, making them feel more secure and comfortable in their new home. So, whether it’s their first meeting with your neighbor, a friend, or another pet, make sure your relationship is strong enough first or you will minimize how they look at you. Each interaction should be a step towards building their confidence and sociability in you first.
Avoid forceful interactions or putting your new dog or any of your animals in situations they might find stressful. Instead, let them take the lead and set the pace of their socialization journey. And most importantly, always supervise these interactions to ensure they are positive and safe.
Lastly, remember that socialization is an ongoing process. Your dog’s ability to interact confidently and calmly with different beings and environments is a skill that takes time to develop. So, give them all the time they need, and be there to lead and support them every step of the way.
Training Your New Dog
An integral part of the process of introducing a new dog into your household is training. This takes place from the moment you meet your new pet. It’s all about setting, teaching and fostering your expectations for your dog. For any dog, training is teaching. The best teachers are the best leaders. Be a great leader to your new puppy or adult dog. Set your expectations higher.
Remember that training isn’t an overnight process. It requires time, patience, and a whole lot of understanding of what you want in a dog. It’s essential to approach this phase with a clear expectations and a calm demeanor. Dogs respond best to clear expectations with boundaries, rules, and consistency. So if you don’t want your dog to pee in the house when you leave, teach it to stay in their kennel when you are gone will set them up for success. Stop feeling “bad” because your dog is learning and doing all the “yes’s” instead of the “No’s”.
An important point to remember is that every dog learns at their own pace. Avoid comparing your pet’s progress to other dogs you may know or have had. Instead, focus on the incremental improvements your dog is making each day.
However, the training process can sometimes be challenging, and there’s no shame in seeking professional help. Dog trainers are skilled in handling a variety of behaviors and can offer guidance and tips to make the process more manageable. Whatever you do stay consistent. If it is working great, if it isn’t working be willing to try something new.
When it comes to training your new dog, the key is to be consistent and for goodness sake, have a plan. This not only helps them understand the rules of their new home but also strengthens your bond with them based on leadership. Obedience training should be seen as a means of communication between you and your dog, and a great opportunity to build trust and mutual respect. Which will lead to the behaviors you desire. Therefore, approach this as your lifestyle with patience and understanding that every small step is a victory. This will set the stage for a beautiful and harmonious relationship between you and your new pet.
Love is not the answer
Sorry to finish with this but love is not the answer. If it were we would have zero dog issues, no reactivity, no dogs being given up to shelters, no behavioral euthanasias, and no dog fights.
I know you love your new pet even before you meet them and all you want to do is snuggle, pet, play and bond through physical touch with your dog. I beg you to slow down. All that affection can be overwhelming to many canines. Have you ever had a dog who peed every time they were pet by you or a certain person? Yup, that is an inability to control their bowels because of the imbalance of affection. They may like touch but are not in the proper mental state to accept it. Or have you ever had a dog shiver in fear with a tucked tail, hiding? If you go pick him up or touch him in any way to console him, what you are doing is actually saying “good job keep being in fear”. Before touching a dog in that mental state ask yourself: is there something to be in fear of or is there any threat to the dog right now? If the answer is “no” then be patient and do not feed into the imbalanced state of mind.
Embrace this journey of bonding with your new pet, cherishing each milestone, and patiently navigating through any bumps along the way. With consistency, a plan, and clear communication you will find success in your journey to pet leadership.