22 Jun 2018 What To Do Once You Get Your New Dog Home
It’s National Pet Adoption Month and today we’re sharing with you tips for what to do once you get your new dog home. We adopted Shredder back in December, and I’ll never forget the day he came home. His foster family brought him to our house one night during the week so she could see our home and make sure it was safe, and so we could see how Shredder liked it (and us). Never in a million years did I think that we would get to keep him that very night. But that’s exactly what happened. We signed the paperwork, paid the rest of our deposit, was handed his leash and a small ziplock bag of food, and that was it.
We definitely hadn’t done our homework ahead of time. (And before this happens to you, be sure to check out “Before You Adopt a Puppy: What You Need to Know.”)
It was 7:30pm, we had 4 kids to put to bed, lunches to prep for the next day, and work in the morning. Needless to say, we weren’t ready to add a puppy to the mix that very night. But it happened. It was exciting and nerve-racking all at the same time! There is a lot to prepare before you bring your new pup home. We hope that you have already prepared your home for a new dog. And before he actually steps a paw inside, we wanted to give you a few tips on what to do once you get your new dog home.
Take a Day to Settle
Ideally, we would recommend bringing your new dog home on a weekend, or on a day when you can devote the entire day to getting settled. Your dog will want to explore and sniff and see everything, so be sure to give him space to get his bearings straight. Be sure he knows where all the entrances/exits are, and where he will eat and sleep. Keep in mind; it can take a week or more for your new dog to get completely comfortable, so have patience in the process.
Take Your Pooch to the Potty
As soon as your new pup gets home, be sure to show him wherever he’ll be going to the bathroom. If that’s outside, be sure to give him time to sniff out there also. You might want to reinforce positive behavior at this point, so when he goes to the bathroom for the first time, praise and/or a treat may go a long way!
Give Him Space
The last thing you want to do is overwhelm your new dog. This can be especially hard if you have young children who want to pet and play. Be sure to set up a safe space for your pet to have quiet time, and balance that with plenty of love and gentle pets. Take it slow and let your dog take the lead. If you have very young children, never leave your new dog unattended with them. A fabulous resource for families is Family Paws Parent Education. You can learn the tips for proper introduction to young children, and find a local certified trainer to work with you and your unique situation.
Learn to Trust Each Other
Your dog has been around several people at this point, and none of them for a long time, so he’s going to have to learn that you are in it for the long haul. Be sure to be kind and take a gentle approach to teaching what is and is not acceptable behavior. Many rescue dogs can be timid, so being hard on the rules in the beginning could create more problems in the long run.
Watch for Habits
As your new dog gets more comfortable, you’ll start to see his personality shine. This is also when habits and tendencies start to emerge. We noticed right away that Shredder seemed to scarf down his food in a matter of minutes, so we purchased a few food toys to make him work for his food and encourage his natural instinct to forage. We also learned he was very fond of stealing a few stuffed animals and balls from our boys, so we had to be sure to teach him they were off limits and remove the temptation by giving him his own types of similar toys.
Keep in mind that your new dog isn’t the only one creating new habits. You are as well. Take care with the way you interact with your dog, especially in front of young children. If they see you roughhousing, they will also want to do this. Little children can appear to be little monsters to pets, so be sure to teach proper petting with a hand-over-hand technique, and teach children the safe way to approach and interact with a dog.
Get Your Dog License
Check with your town on the laws for having dogs and be sure to fill out the appropriate paperwork to obtain your dog license. Get this done right away so you make sure he’s safe and protected should he ever get loose and run away.
Give Him Busy Work
Just like a child, a dog can get bored easily. And boredom usually ends up with chewed shoes or something else you don’t want! It starts with giving your pup plenty of exercise, but you can also create many other situations to keep your pup busy and entertained. Toys like Kong or snuffle mats are great to keep your dog occupied. You can even create frozen treats at home to keep your pup busy. These can also be great tools for helping redirect attention from stressful situations, like when young children are around.
Congrats on your new dog! Our last tip is to enjoy your time with your newest family member! Be patient, be kind, ask for help when you need it and have lots of fun! If you have any questions on how to protect your pet now that he’s home, give us a call at 508.528.5200! We can chat about Massachusetts Pet Insurance and Massachusetts Home Insurance, and we would love to send your dog a free “welcome home” present!