Settling in With Your New Dog

So you have taken the plunge and adopted a dog of your own. Congratulations! But what do you do now? No doubt you are excited and looking forward to forging a lifelong friendship with your new buddy. But try to keep in mind the confusion he or she is feeling right now. Whatever his/her past history, coming home with you is a new experience. They are likely to be a little disoriented, and might wonder where they are and who all the new people are.

The key to helping your dog make a successful adjustment to your home is being prepared and being patient. It can take anywhere from two days to two months for you and your pet to adjust to one another! The following tips can help ensure a smooth transition:

SUPPLIES: Prepare the things your dog will need in advance if possible. You’ll need a crate, collar and leash, food and water bowls, and of course, some toys. And don’t forget to get an ID tag right away.

HEALTH CARE: Animal shelters take in animals with widely varying backgrounds, some of which have not been fully vaccinated. Inevitably, despite the best efforts of the shelter workers, viruses can spread and may occasionally go home with adopted animals. If you already have a dog at home, make sure they are up-to-date on their shots and in good general health before introducing your new dog.

Take your new dog to the vet within a week after adoption. There he will receive a health check and needed vaccinations. If your dog has not been spayed or neutered, make an appointment! There are already far too many homeless dogs and cats; don’t let your pet add to the problem! * It is a Homeward Trails policy that ALL dogs and cats adopted through our organization MUST be spayed or neutered at maturity or in case of maturity, within 2 weeks after adoption!!

HOUSEBREAKING: Assume your new dog is NOT completely housebroken, and work from there. Be consistent and maintain a routine! A little extra effort on your part to come home straight from work each day will pay off in easier, faster housebreaking. *Homeward Trails recommends a midday walk for dogs that are being left at home for most of the day. There is a list of dog walking services on our website.

CRATING: A crate might look like the canine equivalent of a jail cell, but to your dog, who instinctively likes to den, it’s a room of his or her own. It makes housebreaking and training easier and saves your dog the headache from being yelled at unnecessarily for problem behavior. Of course, you won’t want to crate your dog all day or night, or he will consider it a jail cell. Just a few regular hours a day should be sufficient. The crate should not contain wire where their collar or paws can get caught, and should be roomy enough to allow your dog to stand up, turn around, and sit comfortably in a normal posture.

DOG PROOFING: You need to look at your home now as you never have before. Dogs and puppies can get into numerous things that can harm or kill them. Look for electrical wires that they can chew on. Look for string that they can eat (string that is eaten can quickly kill a pet by wrapping around the intestines). Look for chemicals, detergents or cleaning agents that are poisonous. Look for places that they might get stuck in or under. Make sure your fence is secure on all sides. Consider blocking off balconies or stairs where you pet might fall. Move breakable items. Prepare for accidents on your carpets and chew marks on your furniture. Set your new pet up for success by not giving him the opportunity to damage your home or hurt himself!

FINDING PROFESSIONAL HELP: Is your pet driving you crazy? Many behaviors that are completely natural for dogs and cats—like barking or meowing, scratching, biting, digging, chewing, escaping and running away—just don’t go over well with their human companions. Changing or managing those undesirable behaviors isn’t always easy. Although advice abounds in the form of popular TV shows, books and well-meaning friends and family, the best and most efficient way to resolve your pet’s behavior problems is to seek assistance from a qualified professional.

Information Provided by The Humane Society of the United States.

Check out the helpful items below! Purchasing an item by clicking the link also supports Homeward Trails.