Bringing a New Dog Home

By Frania Shelley-Grielen. All rights reserved.

What do you need to know about your new dog? Bringing a new dog into your home can be an exciting and stressful time for us as humans and an exciting and stressful time for the dog. As many plans and expectations as you may have for your new dog, know that your dog simply cannot share them, he or she does not speak English, read or know your intentions. He cannot know that you plan to be the best of friends, to go for plenty of walks every day, teach him to play fetch or let him sit on the couch with you. Your new dog cannot trust that you will find the right dog food and make sure she gets to the vet when she needs to and find the right toys and games to play with her.

Things are changing very fast for your new dog whatever routine or family or place your dog has been in is now gone and his world will never be the same. What your dog does know is what is around him right now, what this new immediate environment (including your presence) smells, sounds and looks like in this moment. There is a biological necessity for this new dog to seek safety, safety, solace and routine. Read on for some tips on how to provide this much needed assurance of safety:.

- Anticipate what your dog will need and have it around before you bring your dog home. Things like high quality dog food, bowls for food and water, a leash (4-6 feet of leather or cloth), a leather or cloth flat or martingale collar (Skip prong, choke and head halters) toys -especially chew toys, a brush and a dog bed round out the essentials.

- Do not be concerned if your new dog does not exhibit much interest in play initially, this will come once your dog feels safe enough to play and when you identify which toys your dog prefers to play with.

- Bring your new arrival directly home, do not stop and run errands or introduce this dog to your friends or family on the way home. As much as you may want to show off your new dog, resist, you do not want to overwhelm your new companion. For the first week or so limit visitors to your home in order to allow the dog to process you and your home environment at an easy pace.

- Make sure and take time to allow the dog to sniff around (on a leash!) the block, yard or perimeter area of your home. This walk around should also include the indoor areas of your home. Remember to engage the dog at all times in this process—talk to your new dog in a happy and calm voice, explain what is going on. While your dog may not understand every word you are saying, your tone of voice and accompanying body language will reassure your dog that he or she is in a possibly welcome and safe place. Keeping the dog on leash will keep the dog connected to you, helping to foster both emotional and physical security (all new dogs are capable of escaping from unfamiliar surroundings given an opportunity).

- Establish a consistent and frequent on leash walk routine. Initially use your dog walks as relief walks rather than recreation. Take your dog for shorter walks in your neighborhood for the first several weeks, save excursions and dog park visits for the second month when you are and your dog will know each other better. (Continue Reading Below)