Congratulations on your family’s new addition!
Welcoming a new dog into your home can be an exciting time for your family! It can also be overwhelming--for you and for the new dog. But, with a little preparation, you can welcome your new pup with ease and with very few chewed-up shoes!
Before Your New Dog Comes Home
Prepare your home.
Just like you childproof to keep a your toddler safe, dog-proofing keeps your new dog (and your slipper) safe. Pick up loose items like shoes, toys, basically anything you don’t want to risk your new dog chewing. This applies to older dogs coming home, too, because they might need time to learn what is and isn’t appropriate to chew on. With that in mind, stock a variety of pet toys and puzzles - plush, rope, balls, chew toys. This will allow you to find your new dog's favorite way to play while providing multiple ways to keep her occupied and away from the pillows.
Decide on your routine.
Figure out in advance what time your dog will eat breakfast and dinner, who will feed her, who will walk her and when, and so on. It’s super important in the early days to establish a consistent schedule that your new pup can rely on--her whole world turned upside down when she arrived at your home, so consistency helps her settle in faster. Plus, if your family is new to owning a dog, it keeps everyone accountable so no one accidentally misses a feeding or a walk.
Pick the right day.
If you’re bringing home a dog who isn’t yet house trained, and most aren’t, you’ll need a rigorous bathroom schedule to prevent accidents. In fact, starting on a weekend is ideal. If you’re able to bring your dog home on a Friday, you’ll have all weekend to focus on a house training schedule!
The First Day
Give your new dog time!
It’s tempting to invite all your friends and family over to meet your new pup. However, she needs time to acclimate to her new home, her new family, and her new routine. Welcome her home on leash and allow her to explore the house at her own pace--she’ll probably want to sniff everything! Make a point to show her where her bed and dishes are, and don’t skimp on the time outside. All that sniffing and excitement will cause her to have to go to the bathroom, and you want to start those good habits right away! Speaking of which..
Start that new routine.
Feed her, walk her, take her for potty breaks, everything according to schedule. Dogs thrive on consistency. And, being integrated into the family’s routine is a super fast way to make her feel part of the family. Just be sure to include lots of play time with each family member as part of the daily routine.
As part of the new routine, it’s safest to assume your new dog isn’t house trained, so dedicate lots of time and treats for bathroom breaks.
Get out and about.
Once your pup seems comfy and settled in her new digs, schedule a trip to the vet. A checkup starts her on the right foot (er, paw) and helps socialize her to the experience. If she seems amenable, try fun trips to your neighborhood coffee shop or ballfield. One caveat, be sure to follow your vets rules when it comes to taking your dog places before being vaccinated. You want to be sure to keep her safe.
Whatever your family loves to do, see if she loves to do it, too! If so, she’ll be thrilled to tag along on your regular outings. If not, that’s OK, too. Some dogs--like some people--are homebodies. Take time to get out and about to get to know your new dog and to make her feel welcome not just in your home but also in your family.
Don’t overlook this super important step. Dogs don’t come wired knowing how to live in a human world. To them, the garbage can smells like super-yummy-delicious food. To them, toilet water quenches their thirst--and at a convenient height! To them, chewing on your slippers is a fun way to alleviate boredom. However, none of those are desirable to us people. So, invest time--and money, if you’re able--in positive, science-based training. Get every member of the family involved. Even if it’s as simple as working on “sit” or “come” in the backyard, or as complicated as learning how to run an agility course together, every minute training will build your bond and help your dog feel happy and health.
Dogs are fun. They bring joy, laughter, friendship and the feeling of unconditional love to a home. Yes, they can take a bite out of your coffee table or refuse to come when you call them. But dogs bring a family together. Your new dog will get your family up and moving for daily walks. You’ll all bond over caring for the sweet creature who you’ve welcomed into your home. It only takes a little preparation for a lifetime of fun!