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Animals, People, & the Earth

Welcoming a New Dog Into Your Home

When you bring home a dog, there are some things you’ll want to do to make the transition easier on both of you.

If you’ve decided to bring home a new animal companion, you’re probably imagining the wonderful moment when you’ll first welcome him into your life and how much fun you’ll have introducing him to his new home. Keep in mind, though, that this will be a transitional time for everyone, including your human family members and your new dog. And if you already have pets in the house, there will be even more challenges to make sure that everyone gets along, and nobody feels displaced. When you bring home a dog, whether or not you already have another pet, there are some things you’ll want to do to make the transition easier on both of you.

Does My New Dog Like it Here?

Dogs will have a period of transition to a new space. It may take several weeks or longer before your dog fully understands that your home is also his home. If he’s bounced around between a few shelters and foster homes, it may take him quite a while to accept that he’s now in a forever home. So, the first thing to keep in mind when bringing a new dog into your home is to be patient. Your new dog may act differently than he did at the shelter or foster where you first met him, he may have a few accidents, and he definitely won’t know all the rules of his new place, but if you give him time and consistent training, he’ll adjust before long.

How Can I Help My New Dog Adjust?

Keep your new puppy in a limited area of the home and crate him when you’re away or sleeping for the first week or so, at least. He needs to time to get used to the new space and letting him run everywhere before he’s ready could be overwhelming. Once your dog is more acclimated (or if you’ve adopted an older dog you can start with this) let him explore the house on leash so that you can quickly redirect him if he gets into something he shouldn’t. Remember to be consistent with your rules and give lots of praise every time he does something right.

How Should My New Dog Meet my Current Dog?

Introducing two dogs can be tricky. It helps if you already know how both dogs react to other dogs. If neither dog has shown aggression towards other dogs in the past, it is more likely that the introduction will go smoothly. Still, follow some basic steps to give your dogs the best chance of a positive first impression.

Always introduce dogs to each other outside. Dogs can be territorial, and you wouldn’t want your current dog to think that the new dog was invading his space. Keep both dogs on four to six foot long leashes and keep the leashes loose. Have one adult controlling a leash for each dog. In case things don’t go well, you’ll want someone who can handle a dog to remove them from the environment. Make sure that everyone stays calm and uses a happy voice. Never scold a dog for normal dog behavior. Watch for signs of discomfort or aggression and gently lead the dogs apart if necessary. Stop the introduction at the first sign of aggression and try again another day.

What About Kids in the Home?

When introducing children and dogs, remember that you need to educate the kids as much as the dog. Teach the kids how to respect animals, what animal behaviors mean so they can identify aggression, and how to interact with animals, particularly ones they haven’t met before. Don’t let the kids crowd the dog or approach him from above. Remind them that there will be plenty of time for cuddling once the dog feels at home. Carefully supervise the interaction and keep the dog(s) on leash and under the control of an adult.

Bringing a new dog home is an amazing experience. Do it carefully and your home will be your new dog’s happy place for many years to come.

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