Bringing Home Your New Dog

Bringing a new dog home is an exciting time for a family, and you want to be sure you’re taking the right steps to welcome your new friend into an unfamiliar space. Here are a few tips to ensure your pet experiences an easy and successful transition into your home:

Before Your Bring Your New Pet Home

Dog-Proof Your Home
Before bringing your new friend home, be sure to move anything chewable up and out of the way. Some items might be obvious, but you will also want to position yourself so you are at your dog’s level to see what your dog will see. Give a thorough look around and make sure nothing harmful is in reach. This will help prevent your dog from chewing your shoes, books, toys, remotes, or other household items that may be enticing to a curious pet. Dogs also tend to chew on electrical cords, so tuck those away and out of sight. This might mean you will need to gate off certain areas of the house, specifically the kitchen and living room. You may also want to use a gate to block off the stairway, prohibiting access up or down the stairs.

Create a Sanctuary Space
Set up a bed or crate for your new dog and make this a sanctuary space. Create the sanctuary away from the rest of the household so that it offers your pet a feeling of peace and security. Use blankets or sheets to make the space comfortable and inviting.  If your new friend is still a puppy or doesn’t like to be alone, you can place the sanctuary in a more central location. You can also place a crate cover or blanket over the space to make it feel even more secure and cozy. Give your pet treats in this space so that the sanctuary is associated with an enjoyable experience. A good idea for a treat is a Kong filled with wet food or peanut butter.

Facilitate Responsible Introductions
If you already have a pet in your family, try to do a meet and greet before bringing the new pet into the home. The Virginia Beach SPCA conducts a meet-and-greet with any resident dog(s) prior to adoption; however, if you have other pets such as small animals or a cat, you will want to introduce them slowly and with supervision. Let them sniff each other through the door first so they can familiarize themselves with the new smells. When your pets do meet face to face, try to keep it short and sweet. It might take some time for them to get used to each other, and that’s ok! Make sure you don’t force interaction as this could cause fights and aggression. If you continue to have problems, consider contacting one of our recommended dog trainers.

Bringing Your Dog Home

Provide Supervision and Space
The time it takes to acclimate is different for every dog. For the first week or so, your new fur baby might need some space. Let your new dog explore the new environment as slowly as necessary, and if your new family member still prefers to take space away from the family, allow it. However, even if you give allow the extra space, remember to keep an eye on your new pet to prevent any chewing, accidents, or potentially dangerous situations. You will also want to give your new pet time to get used to the new environment before meeting extended family and friends.  Two weeks is good adjustment period, after which you can slowly introduce your new pet to new faces. Be sure to keep an eye out for signs of stress, such as panting, running away, cowering, growling, or pacing around the home. If these signs appear, give your pet some space.

Stick to a Consistent schedule
Set your dog up for success by starting a regular schedule as soon as possible. It is confusing to an animal if you change the rules, and it may contribute to problem behavior. Try to keep feeding times and bathroom breaks on a consistent schedule, with the general rule being that dogs up to 6 months of age should be let out at least every 4 hours and older dogs may need more frequent breaks depending on size and age. For food, keeping your dog on the same diet will not only be easier on your dog’s stomach, but it will also help with the initial adjustment phase. Pets thrive with routines as it helps with an overall feeling of security. If you decide to change to a different kind of food, do so gradually. The first two days should be 25% new food and 75% old food, the third and fourth day should be 50% and 50%, and then 75% new food and 25% old for the last 2-3 days before changing over completely.

Offer Plenty of Exercise and Training
Make sure your new friend gets lots of exercise. This doesn’t just mean walks; you will need to engage your pet in games of fetch, tug, and chase. Regular exercise will help prevent problem behaviors such as digging, chewing, and barking while also providing quality time for you and your pet to bond. In addition to exercise, have lots of interactive toys on hand and make sure to give your dog treats. You can also sign up for dog training classes which will strengthen the relationship between you and your pet, while also establishing healthy discipline and good dog behavior. You might even learn some fun tricks, too!

And, Lastly, Remember to be Patient.
Patience is the key ingredient to the successful integration of a new pet into a home. Every animal has his or her own individual personality and it will take time for both of you to settle in to your new family.