So, you’ve welcomed a new dog into your home! Congrats!
A dog brings so much love and joy to a family… but maybe not right away. It takes a new dog some time to adjust. Imagine being dropped into a new home with a new family and you don’t even speak the same language!
There are a few things you can do to help your new dog adjust. Here are easy-to-do tips to help your dog’s adjustment go smoothly!
Head to the Vet
Prior to bringing your new pup home, set an appointment with your chosen vet. Try to get a date that’s within the first week or two of bringing your dog home. Even if your dog comes from a rescue that did a round of vaccines or even spayed or neutered your pup, you still want to get set up at a veterinary practice before you need it. You’ll be in their system in case of emergency, your dog will learn the ropes, and you can head off any early signs of problems that need addressed.
Bonus: Use the trip as an opportunity to bond! Bring a big pile of treats and make the vet visit a positive experience. Give lots of pats, praise, and treats to help your new dog learn that vet’s offices can be fun! Plus, it’ll help your dog start to look to you for cues on how to behave and react in a new space, and you want to make that connection fun and rewarding, too!
Give Him Space
When your dog first comes home, it’s so tempting to spend every minute playing and cuddling. For your new pup, though, the first few days in a new place with new people might feel overwhelming or even scary. Set up a safe space where your dog can retreat to if he choses, and be sure to schedule in plenty of “down” time for your pup to rest and recharge. In fact, make rest part of the routine. Speaking of which...
Create--and Stick to--a Routine
Ideally you want to figure this out prior to your dog’s arrival so you can kick off your new routine on day one. The goal is to help your dog feel settled by helping her feel secure. For dogs, who have no control over when they get fed or let outside or get a walk, routine helps create a sense of predictability, which is so important in the early days.
Start by determining a feeding schedule. Most dogs after puppyhood need to eat twice a day. Figure out what time and who’s responsible, then build from there. Your dog will need to go for a walk after eating, of course, and if she’s not yet potty trained, many more times throughout the day. Build in some downtime for her to rest in her designated crate or bed, and be sure to spend time playing and training, too! Once your dog is settled into your home and your family, you can loosen the reins on the schedule a bit--as long as her house training is consistent. If you’re not sure how to go about planning your dog’s day, you can always chat with your vet to get some guidance.
Set Your Dog Up for Success
Dogs don’t come hardwired to understand how to live with humans. Instead, you need to teach them what you want--and, maybe more importantly--what you don’t want. For a dog, a trash can smells like delicious food. The quiet corner behind the couch looks like an awesome place to pee, and a freedom run down the street seems like the most fun thing ever. It’s on you to teach your dog how to behave indoors, where to go to the bathroom, how to walk on a leash, and so on.
Of course, you don’t want to overwhelm your new dog by throwing it all at her at once. If it’s in your family’s budget, sign up for a basic obedience course with a science-based positive reinforcement trainer. If it’s not in the budget, check out some simple training videos on YouTube or find books at your local library. The most important thing? Stock up on treats and make it a positive, positive, positive experience! You want to reward your dog every time she does something you want her to do--it’s kind of like how you collect your paycheck for doing your job!
Bottom Line: Patience Is Everything!
Your dog will make mistakes. You might think she’s fully house trained… and then you come home to an accident. She might be having a great time walking nicely on leash, then one day pull you like a maniac down the street. She might take to one member of the family right away while remaining shy of the others. Remember, she has a lot to learn, and it takes time.
Be patient. She’s yours for life, so take your cues from her: Be in the moment and enjoy this brand-new time together!