Congratulations on welcoming a new pet into your life! Bringing home a new dog is very exciting; however, it comes with the responsibility of providing a comfortable, positive and welcoming home environment for your furry friend. In order to ensure a smooth and stress-free integration, we have gathered some of the best advice for new pet parents.
Here are our key tips for welcoming a new dog into your home and life.
1. Create a Safe Place
Your home is a brand new environment for your pup, and can be a little overwhelming at first with so many new smells and objects to investigate! This is why setting up a safe and protected area your pet can call his own is one of the most important things to do when bringing home a new puppy. Whether it’s a dedicated crate or a comfy confined room, make sure your pup has a secure and quiet place where her or she can retreat. Some pets can become over-stimulated with too much activity, loud noises or people, so having their own safe place helps them calm down and relax. Additionally, the stimuli of exploring all these new spaces can be totally exhausting! Adding a durable, chew-proof bed, some play-safe toys and treats, and a worn t-shirt or piece of fabric that smells like you can help make the space more familiar and comfortable.
Pro-Tip: Never use this space as a punishment! Always ensure that your pup’s “safe place” is associated with pleasant, positive emotions and rewards.
2. Establish Routine
Pets are creatures of habit, just like us! Dogs, in particular, like to have a routine. Developing one will help smooth your pup’s transition into your home. Try to feed, walk, crate, and play with your dog at the same or similar times each day. This way, your pup will learn what to expect and also how to behave. Routine helps to establish a guideline of what you want your life to look like with your new furry friend.
3. Health, Safety and Responsibility
Owning a dog is one of the most rewarding experiences. However, it is important to recognize the responsibility that comes with bringing a furry friend into your life. Whether you’ve just brought home a puppy or an older dog, it is crucial to make yourself aware of any present health conditions, allergies, injuries or illnesses that he or she may have. Moving is stressful, for dogs and humans alike! In periods of stress, your dog may behave in unpredictable ways. Make sure you keep a close watch on your new pup for the first few days, and that when you are unable to, he or she is kept in a “safe space.” This way, anything not dog-proofed in your home is out of reach when you are not able to monitor your doggo’s curiosity!
Pro-Tip: Dogs, like humans, are susceptible to various food intolerances and sensitivities; thus, switching foods might upset your new dog’s stomach. Always ease into any new food by asking the shelter, breeder, or previous owner for a small portion of your pup’s previous food to blend into the new diet you choose for your dog.
4. Consistency, Consistency, Consistency!
With routine, comes consistency! Routines require repetition and follow-through. Dogs appreciate consistency in order to learn. To train and condition your dog to behave, you have to be consistent with the ways in which you are interacting with him or her. The more structured and consistent his or her day is, the better adjusted he or she will be. It is important to start enforcing the rules you would like your pup to follow as soon as possible, even though the excitement of getting a new best friend. Stick with it, and remember that every dog will learn and grow at his or her own pace.
Pro-Tip: Focus on (heavily) rewarding good behavior instead of punishing negative behavior. Dogs- specifically puppies- are much more likely to respond to positive reinforcement than positive or negative punishment. Maintaining a relationship founded in mutual respect and positive reinforcement will support many years of fun activities together.
After your dog has had a few days to adjust to your home, a veterinary visit is a great next step to look for any underlying medical conditions, infectious diseases, etc. Your BetterVet team will be ready to provide excellent care for your new family member. Congratulations on your new addition!