Adopting new dog whether a puppy or an adult can be a rewarding experience but a change in home environment can be a really stressful ordeal for them. Many exhibit fear, anxiety and at time aggression especially if there are other pets in the home. It is therefore important to make the transition as smooth as possible to enable our fur babies acclimatize to their new environments. It takes patience since dogs also have different temperaments and personalities and each adjusts at their own time. We have a few tips which can come in handy during this time.
- Stock up pet supplies
Just like babies, one needs to prepare in advance for the arrival of a new dog. This means stocking up on food, toys, bed, leash, collar and a grooming kit among other things. This will ensure smooth handling of our new family member.
- Dog proof and prepare the home for a new member
This mostly applies to puppies which have a tendency of chewing on anything they come across. Getting rid of objects that can be harmful to them will help prevent accidents around the home during the 1st few weeks as they adjust to the new environment. This include making sure garbage bins have tight fit covers, covering electrical cords, getting rid of poisonous plants etc.
This also involves discussing with other family members on their various duties e.g. feeding, walking, grooming etc.
Also allocate a room or area in the home where the new dog can have his own space before adjusting to the new environment. This mostly applies if there are other pets in the home. This will prevent aggression and dog fights since many will try to defend their territory against new visitors. In case one has cats in the same household cats, allocate dog free zones where they can retreat before getting used to the new visitor. Ensure their vaccinations are also up to date in such households to prevent transmission of deadly diseases especially if their medical history is not known.
- Plan ahead on when to pick him up.
It’s best to do so over weekends or on weekdays on a day off. Doing so during long vacations can cause the dog to become overly attached which can cause separation anxiety later on when one resumes work.
- Give him/her a grand tour
This allows him to sniff his new home, toys, bed, food to get used to the smell and adjust well. This also works as a good time to introduce potty training while at the yard. Reward him with treats when he does so. You can also introduce small commands while in the house such as “no”, or “leave it” when he does something that goes against house rules. This way he is able to be aware of boundaries.
- Schedule a visit to the veterinarian
This should be done as soon as possible especially if the medical history of the new family member is unknown. It helps ensure he is free of any infectious diseases or parasites to prevent transmission to other pets in the household and also to humans e.g. fungal infections. The vet can also check if the vaccinations are up to date and issue him with a clean bill of health which is also comforting to the new owner.
- Beware of escape attempts
When confronted with new environments, most pets tend to run back to where they considered home. To prevent this always keep them on a leash while walking outside or even out in the yard. They often dig below the fence and can make an escape.
The sooner one starts the better for everyone at home. Simple commands can help train them on the dos and don’ts around the home. Dogs are animals of habit. This would mean one taking him out for bathroom breaks consistently, walking him daily, feeding and having their bed time at the same time to enable him to have a form of routine to follow and condition the brain. However, some dogs may take time to learn therefore patience is key.
If interested in obedience training, this would be the best time to start.
Sudden changes in diet can cause stomach discomforts. It’s therefore wise to introduce the new diet slowly in small portions over time. It’s even better to find out what the dog was feeding on prior and mix a bit of the old with the new tapering off the old diet as you increase portions of new diet progressively. It provides something familiar to the dog which lessens the level of anxiety.
- Introduce members of his new family members slowly.
This should be done one at a time to prevent him from being scared and anxious. Avoid being over enthusiastic with the hugs and kisses even though he looks so cute and adorable. You might actually be causing him to isolate himself or hide of out fear. In case you have other dogs in the home, make sure they are on a leash while doing these. Some may feel threatened as they may sense their territory is being invaded and may charge at the new dog.
- Research Research Research!
This involves asking the previous owner or shelter on routines, behavior, likes and dislikes of your new fur baby. This will help in making her more comfortable by continuing with routines he/she is used to. It also good to ask about aggression issues may be due to past abuse, allergies and their medical history.
It also wise to research on the breed of dog one is about to adapt. His/her temperament, personality, predisposition to diseases, activity level etc. This will help you to prepare better.
Adapting a dog takes a lot of commitment but can be very rewarding at the same time. They offer company and other health benefits. You also provide a safe and comfortable space for the animal especially if adapting from an animal shelter. Allow the dog to get acclimatized at his or her time, don’t rush the process.