What should I think of when bringing a new dog home?

The most common mistake people do when bringing a new dog home is not giving enough time to acclimatize to the new environment.

Adult SamoyedA new furry friend will bring a lifetime of joy and love, but many are still returned to shelters and rescues within the first 24 hours of adoption. Moving is stressful for anyone – and even more so for a new dog. Everything is new, they don’t know where they are or who you are, or what’s expected of them.

Patience and just a little preparation will ensure success. Almost every family who brings an adult dog home says it takes a few weeks for the dog to settle in and show their true self.

The following tips pertain to adult dogs.

Before bringing the new dog home

  • Choose a spot where your dog will spend the most time. He or she will be stressed from the change of environment and everything new, and there’s a risk they’ll forget their housebreaking. That means it’s a good idea to pick a spot easy to clean.
  • Crate training can be a great help for both dogs and people. If you plan to use a crate, have it set-up and ready to go.
  • Look over the dog’s new area and make sure it’s safe. You don’t know how they will react, so remove anything that shouldn’t be chewed, remove anything that can be toxic, tape loose electrical cords to avoid temptation, and similar.
  • Training your new dog – and bonding – will start the moment you pick them up. It’s a good idea to decide which commands should mean what, and agree on these words in the family. It’s easier to learn to sit if the command is always sit.
  • Make sure you have bowls, a leash, poop bags, some toys, and anything else your new dog might need.
  • It’s a good idea to get an ID tag with your phone number, and to attach this to the dog’s collar before you leave the home or rescue where you pick up. Some dogs feel unsafe and take the first opportunity to bolt.
  • If your dog is already microchipped, update your contact information with the microchip’s company. If they’re not microchipped, schedule an appointment to get it done.

Picking up and the first days at home

  • When you pick up your new dog, ask what and when they’ve been fed. Sticking to the same type of food and schedule will help avoid an upset tummy. If you want to change the type of food and/or schedule, do so gradually.
  • Going home, make sure your dog is secure in the car. It’s a great idea to use a crate, because a stressed dog might paw on or stress the driver, any accidents will happen in the crate, and you know the dog won’t jump out if someone opens the car door.
  • Once you get home, start with going potty. Give plenty of praise when it happens in the right area.
  • Limit access to the house – it’s enough to get used to one room at a time. Also, limit the number of people the dog meets at once. Everyone will want to come over and meet the new family member, but all these meetings will be smoother with some time to settle in and decompress.
  • Make sure children know how to approach the dog.
  • Be patient, give it time, and get to know each other.

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