Are you thinking of bringing an adopted dog into the family? This can be such an exciting time but it can also be incredibly stressful, especially if you did not have a chance to adequately prepare your house and family for the new addition.
The good news is that this process does not have to fraught with anxiety and fear! Follow these tips listed below to help prepare home and family for your new dog and help that they have as smooth a transition as possible into your family. Please remember though that all dogs will take time to adjust to their new home and family.
Dogs need to learn that they can trust their new family while also learning boundaries and expectations. In other words, there will be mishaps, but the more you can plan and prepare ahead of time then the better you will be able to manage the situation when it inevitably happens.
With that said, here 5 tips to get ready for a dog at home!
1. Balance Your Budget
Dogs can be expensive, especially in the first few months after you bring them home! From their initial new dog wellness checkup at your local veterinarian to immunizations and even medications that some dogs may be taking to address existing medical conditions. While many rescues will likely provide some vaccinations for your pet, you should be prepared for the potential of additional booster shots, etc.
Aside from vaccines and medications, you will likely have to go through trial and error to determine what treats, toys, and even food works best for your dog. While we are on the topic of transitioning food, it is SUPER IMPORTANT if you do decide to change your dogs food that you do so over the course of at least three weeks. Starting out with week one where you use 2/3 of their current food and 1/3 of the new food.
If your dog is not showing signs of an upset tummy (diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, etc.) then you can continue transitioning until you are fully on the new dog food. Always make sure to speak with your veterinarian first before changing your dogs diet.
2. Practice Remaining Calm — Especially with Children!
Dogs will need two to three months to adjust to their new home. While you know that you and your family will provide a loving and nurturing home, your dog is still trying to figure that out! Also, they are learning their boundaries and what is considered acceptable behavior. So it is best to expect accidents and maybe even a tussle or two between your new dog and any existing pets and children in the house.
Make sure to monitor your new dog around current family members to ensure the safety of everyone. I know when we brought home our dog Jade from the rescue, she was a bit territorial with food and toys because she had lived on the streets before being brought to the rescue where we ultimately adopted her. During her transitionary period, we made sure to not leave her unattended with our other dogs to make sure everyone was getting along.
We also closely monitored play time and put some space between Jade and other dogs during meal time to avoid any unintended incidents. Dogs need time to learn and adjust, so just make sure that you remain calm, consistent, and clear with your expectations. Over time, your pup will learn the family rules and settle in to their new life with their forever family!
3. Gather Supplies Ahead of Time
It is highly recommended to setup an appropriately sized crate for your new dog. If you are bringing home a larger breed dog then it may be best to purchase a larger crate that would fit them when they are full grown.
Most crates will allow you to reduce the size of the crate to fit your pet while they are growing. You will want to leave just enough space for your dog to lay down comfortably. This will help to prevent accidents inside your dogs crate because they will not have anywhere to leave the mess.
Other important items to have on hand for your dogs arrival include a martingale collar (to help prevent an escape artist situation), leash, chew toys, training treats, food and water bowls, and a sealed container to put dog food. Some dogs also have digestion issues when they first come home so you may want to also have a few cans of pumpkin on-hand as a scoop on your dogs food can help settle their stomach.
4. Prep Your House
Determine where your new dog will eat, sleep, play, and relax when they arrive home. As we have mentioned in previous posts, it is vitally important that you allow your dog to have several months to adjust to their new home. Depending on your dogs prior living situation, they may need more to time to adjust and trust their new family.
Until your new dog is able to behave as per the family rules, it is best to keep some space between them and any current pets or children that you already have in the home. Probably the most important space is to provide your new dog with a crate. Think of this as their own little home within a home!
If your new dog is feeling overwhelmed or just needs some alone time, this is a great place to allow them to go to find peace. At night, we would also suggest using the crate for your new dog even if the other pets in your house do not use a crate at night. It is important that you put the new dog in their own crate though.
Another vital space to define is where water and mealtimes will take place. Make sure to always have fresh water available at all times for your pet, especially while they adjust to their new home. And while your current pets may eat very well together, they may also have different eating habits than your new dog that.
Our dog Jade was a bit of a grazer with her food which was not going to work very well with her Labrador Retriever older brothers that will literally eat anything and everything in sight!
Dogs are pack animals so they often will want to be in the same room together to eat, but make sure they are in different corners and that you are standing in between them to avoid any unintended scuffles over the last bit of kibble.
Define what toys are for your dog and which are not by putting them in their own toy bin. If you have kids or other pets, this may take longer for your new dog to learn what toys are theirs and also how to share. It is common for some dogs to hoard toys too, depending on their home situation and the environment that they were exposed to previously.
Slowly and patiently teach your new dog to share toys while allowing them to hold onto one toy at a time. Just like what you do with kids!
5. Plan Your Daily Routine
Depending on the size of your dog and their age, you need to make sure that they are taken out for bathroom breaks at least once every six hours. It is best to ask your dog if they have to go outside more frequently especially when they are young and/or new to the home as this will help you avoid accidents inside the house.
Make sure to discuss with your family who will manage what bathroom breaks, mealtimes, walks, house training, obedience classes, and play time with your new dog to ensure they have a safe and smooth transition into your home.