Adopting a dog can be overwhelming if you don’t know how to get started, but bringing a puppy home is also fun and exciting! This important event is the first relationship-building moment among many you will have with your new furry friend best family pets. To help ease that stress, below we have ten things you can do to ensure a smooth transition for everyone.
- Gather your supplies
Get everything you’ll need to make him feel safe and comfortable before you bring him home. In addition to the basics – a collar and leash, as well as food and water dishes – you’ll also need a dog bed, pet door, toys, treats, and cleaning supplies. It’s also a good idea to have some training pads and enzymatic cleaner on hand for accidents during the home training stage.
- Prepare your house
Similar to when carrying a baby, it’s a good idea to prepare your space before the pup comes home. Go through the house and put away items that could be dangerous to very small or curious puppies, and remove things that you don’t want him to chew on.
You should also prepare the rest of the family: Discuss which family members will be in charge of feeding, walking and training. If you have other animals that already live at home, check that they have their vaccinations up to date for everyone’s safety. And if you have cats, you should designate a dog-free zone where they can retreat, offering them a way to acclimate to the excitement of the newcomer, at their own pace. This may seem excessive to some people, but this preparation will help keep the puppy safe and makes the transition process easier for everyone.
- Assign a safe space for him
Just as you would for existing pets, allocate a private space for the new one. Some pet owners have an aversion to carriers, but Best Friends says that dogs actually see them as their own room to rest, like a cave. They also serve as a place to feel safe while adjusting. If you prefer not to use a cage, of course, use a pet gate to block off a dedicated room for him. You can visit him there to help with the integration process, but keep children and other pets out for now.
- Plan how (and when) to bring it home
If possible, take a few days off work or plan to pick up your dog on the weekend when you have free time. But don’t pick it up at the beginning of a long vacation; If he gets used to you being home constantly, he may develop separation anxiety when you return to work. Ask someone to give you a ride when you pick him up, or have someone come with you to comfort him while you drive. Don’t forget to bring his collar and leash, and bring him straight home without making distracting stops.
- Show him the house
Keep him on the leash while you allow him to explore and sniff the inside. Show him his food, bed, toys and let him know his limits with short but firm commands like “no” or “leave it.”
- Explore the yard on the leash
Adopted dogs should be given enough time and space to sniff out their new environment. If you have an assigned pee spot in the yard, take him to it and reward him with a treat when he uses it successfully.
- Introduce the family
The Animal Rescue League of Boston recommends introducing family members and other dogs one at a time to get to know the new dog. Keep other dogs on their leash and monitor their interactions, keeping in mind that too forceful an introduction may cause them to become territorial with the newcomer. Prevent children (and other family members) from kissing or hugging the dog (no matter how adorable), they can be free to make friends with a sniff and a treat.
- Change your dog’s food slowly
If possible, incorporate a little of the food they were given at the shelter or breeder and gradually change your dog’s food to the brand you intend to give it regularly to avoid digestive problems due to a sudden change.
- Start training immediately
Even adult dogs that have recently moved homes will require some house training. If you plan to crate train your dog, introduce him to it right away, and practice leaving him in it – with a toy – for short periods of time while you leave the house to allow him to acclimate. Are you interested in formal obedience training? In any case, it is advisable to start working with him by establishing the rules from day one.
- Get him checked by a vet
Within the first week of bringing him home, you should visit a veterinarian for a health check and to make sure he has all his vaccinations.
Adopting a dog is a great transition for both the dog and the family. Covering these basics will help your dog feel secure in his new environment and will make it easier to integrate with your new wet-nosed friend.