Bringing Home A New Dog? Here's What You Need To Think About

So, you have just walked through the door with your new four-legged friend, and within minutes, he has peed on the couch, stolen the socks and is running around the garden with your favorite underwear. While you know you are going to adore your new pup, you are probably very quickly realizing that bringing a new dog home is not easy, and you have to both be eased into the process.

Whether you have adopted the staff’s favorite dog from the animal shelter or chosen the one with those cheeky eyes from a litter of Black Lab Puppies, your new dog will come with a personality. It will have thoughts, opinions, emotions, habits and quirks that probably did not cross your mind amid the joy and ruckus when choosing your new furry companion.

However, with a bit of prior preparation and work, bringing a new dog into the fold can be a smooth and stress-free experience for all involved.

Time to adjust.

Wherever your dog came from, it will need time to adjust. A shelter can be noisy and chaotic and busy, full of other dogs barking so going to a quiet household may be confusing. If they are from a litter of, say, Goldendoodle puppies, they may need time to adjust being away from their parent and their siblings, as well as the other humans that they have gotten used to since their birth.

Your home has more stimulating activities, space and freedom, as well as many more interesting things for them to play with than a shelter, and this can be overwhelming for many dogs. They may appear withdrawn or sleep a lot in those first few days with your family - possibly catching up on the sleep they lost out on in busy kennels!

They are going to want to investigate all of the new smells and explore their new digs. They do not know what you expect from them, or that you are going to feed them twice a day or where to do their business or the areas (and furniture!) that are out of bounds.

After a few weeks, they will begin to recognize your routine and your comings and goings. They will start to know when it is time to be fed, or when they are going out for a walk and where they need to go for a potty break.

After a few months, they will soon understand that where they are is home. It takes time and patience from both sides to get to that point, but when you do, it is a magical moment.

Picking up supplies

Dogs are like children in that they need lots of supplies. These may include - but not be limited to:

- Collars, leashes or harnesses for walkies
- Somewhere to sleep: are you going to allow them to sleep in your bed, or would you rather them have a dedicated dog pet bed or a crate for night times and naps?
- Food and water bowls
- Treats
- Toys

Setting routines and boundaries

The first three or four weeks after you bring your dog home are the most important when it comes to setting the tone and implementing boundaries. It is so much easier doing things the way you want right from the beginning rather than wait for Rover to pick up some bad habits and try to change them further down the line. Of course, circumstances change, and your relationship will evolve, but if you are adamant, you do not want a couch covered in dog slobber and hair, make sure Rover stays off the couch from day one.

Where possible, try to put a routine in place as early on as possible as well, and get the whole family or household on board with it. Dogs like to be in a routine, so if you try to do the same things around the same times (walk, grooming, feeding, playtime and cuddle time), your pooch will settle in and feel at home much faster than if activities were all over the place.

It always works best if everyone who lives at home has input and is aware of the rules and agrees to follow them. It puts the humans in control and gives your dog the security of continuity and the understanding of what is required of him or her.

Some rules that you might want to put in place include: 
- Freedom and space: Some dogs are not allowed on furniture or in particular rooms or areas of the house. You may want them to wait at doors until invited to go through them. Some families send their dogs to their crate or dog bed during human mealtimes.

- Eating: For some, asking them to lie down while you are preparing their food helps to teach the dog manners. They may also have rules about only eating in a specific area of the house or making them sit before they eat or receive a treat.

- Greetings: What do you want your reunion to look like when you have been apart from a while, or how do you want them to greet guests coming into the house? Some people do not mind the dogs jumping up and giving big slobbery kisses; some people want them to sit and wait in a designated spot before greeting them or a guest.

- Walks: There is no point in having tight rules and routines if they all go out of the window when you go for a walk. There needs to be trust and respect from both sides. If your dog goes hyper when they have their lead put on, you might want to wait until they have calmed down and sat down before proceeding with your walk.

Will you be training them?

Before you bring your new dog home, have an open dialogue with your household members about how much time you have to build and maintain a relationship with your dog, and the kind of things you want to do with your dog. The easiest way to go is to pick a dog that fits comfortably into the way you live.

After the novelty of this new furry has passed, you are still going to have to walk, feed, train and engage with it. Dogs come in all shapes, sizes and energy levels; there is a dog out there that will both suit and enhance your lifestyle.

Write down the number of minutes or hours a day you have available to devote to training your dog. Be completely truthful. When you take a dog into your life, you are in it in for the long haul and there is a chance that you will need a few training lessons, or sessions with a private trainer, or even more intensive practice in the future.

Training is one of the most satisfying ways to build a fantastic relationship with your dog; it can also be costly, time-consuming and stressful on occasion. Do you have the patience, resilience and finances to do it? If not, are you prepared to implement training strategies to make living with an untrained dog doable, no matter how intensive they may be? If you can't, look for a dog that is less likely to need that kind of dedication.

Remember, your dog needs time to learn new habits and possibly forget old ones. They need to learn what is allowed and not allowed and develop the comfort and safety of knowing that they are in their forever home. This will undoubtedly bring along some hiccups along the way, but believe us, it will all be worth it in the end.

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