Helping Your New Dog Settle In

Bringing home a new dog is a wonderful moment in a family’s story. Dogs offer endless love, companionship, and fun, but if you want to build a good relationship with your new pet, you need to start on day one. Whether you adopted your dog from an animal rescue or purchased a puppy from a breeder, here’s how you can help him settle into his new home.

Give Some Space

It’s easy for a dog to get overwhelmed when brought to a new place with strange faces, sights, and smells. As tempting as it may be to shower your new pet with love during the first few days, it’s kinder to give him a little space. In fact, it’s a good strategy to effectively ignore a new rescue for the first few days, except for meals, trips outside, walks, and fun treats to enjoy.

Before bringing your new dog home, set up a safe space in your house. This could be a crate or a room that you set up with food, water, a comfortable bed, and toys. A crate should be big enough for him to sit, stand, lay, and turn around in. If a dog isn’t crate-trained, a room like a laundry room or spare bedroom is a better choice. If you can, include toys or bedding from the rescue or breeder that offer familiar smells. 

If your new family member is hiding, don’t force him out of his hiding place. Let him emerge on his own terms and offer treats and gentle reassurance when he approaches you. By letting the dog make the first move, you’re demonstrating that you’re safe and can be trusted.

Maintain a Routine

Being adopted is perhaps the biggest single moment in a dog’s life, and as exciting as it is, it can also be a very confusing time for your new companion. Help your new dog feel safe in his new home by providing a predictable environment. Giving food and water at the same time each day lets dogs know they can count on their next meal, and regularly scheduled trips to the bathroom take care of any nervous bladder issues.

It’s also important not to make a diet change in the first few days. Sudden food changes can upset your new pet’s stomach, leading to vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea. While you never want your dog to feel unwell, it’s especially important to avoid this immediately after adoption. You need to monitor your pet for illness during this time, and digestion problems could mask a larger health concern.

Ease Into Introductions

If you have other pets at home, hold off before introducing them to the newest addition. Plan to keep the new dog separated from other dogs and cats for a minimum of one week. After the first week, swap bedding between each set of pets so they can grow accustomed to each other’s scent. Let them sniff each other under doors, but delay formal introductions until everyone is showing signs of excitement and curiosity, not anxiety or fear.

If you’re bringing home a service dog, rather than a companion animal, you may want to delay introductions even longer. It’s important for service dogs to bond with their owner, and too much time spent with playmates in the early days could leave your support animal confused about his role in the home.

Be Patient

It’s natural to want your new pet to be perfect, but the truth is that dogs rarely come as finished products. A new dog requires training and care in order to learn how to fit in with your family, so make sure you have a training plan in place and patience for the journey. When you take the time to give your new pet the care and attention it deserves, you’ll be rewarded with years of devoted companionship. 

Image via Unsplash

Written by Jessica Brody