Learn how to help a dog adjust to a new home, especially if you have other pets or kids in the house.
You just couldn't resist those eyes. Or the way his tail started wagging slowly when you moved closer. What ultimately tugged at your heart, though, was the way he leaned into your hand when you reached through the kennel door to pet him.
You couldn't hide the smile on your face when you adopted him, and he was a furry bundle of excitement. Now it's time to think about the what, where, why, and how to help a dog adjust to a new home. And if you already have pets (or kids), they'll need to adapt to a new dog, too.
4 Ways to Help a Dog Adjust to a New Home
1. Where to adopt your dog
First things first: when you adopt a dog, you have several options. There are plenty of organizations that bring dogs from other states and even other countries. If you want a border collie, for instance, there are rescue organizations that specialize in adopting them out.
You can also adopt through an organization like the ASPCA, your local animal control division, or another local animal adoption agency. Many local agencies have their adoptable dogs listed on Petfinder.
In either case, when you get home with your new dog, you can expect an adjustment period for both you and the dog.
2. Before you get home with your dog
Set up a space for your new dog, preferably where you can easily clean up any messes. Baby gates work well to section off rooms and keep your dog out of trouble.
Petfinder suggests dog-proofing the space by taping or removing electrical cords and moving chemicals and cleaners to higher shelves.
Schedule an appointment with a positive-reinforcement trainer. It's never too soon to start training your dog. Zak George has a series of helpful YouTube videos, as well.
Be sure to bring a collar and tag when you pick up your dog. You don't want your dog to get lost.
3. Bringing your dog home
The Labrador Site recommends taking a few days off work if you can to help your dog get acquainted with his new surroundings. Try not to schedule any major activities for a couple of weeks, either, so you can devote a lot of time to helping your dog get used to his forever home.
The Animal Rescue League of Boston suggests letting your dog sniff around outside before you bring him into the house. "Bring your dog to your designated potty spot and reward the dog with a treat for going there."
Whether or not your adopted dog is house-trained, be prepared for accidents. The Labrador Site points out that "all dogs, when stressed and placed in a strange situation, may have a breakdown in cleanliness."
Keep it calm. A new home can be scary for a dog. You need time to learn what your dog may react to, and your dog needs time to adjust to new people, smells, noises, and activities.
4. The first week and beyond
Establish a schedule that you can stick to. Dogs love a routine, and eating, sleeping, bathroom breaks, and walks are only part of it. Schedule dedicated training time into your day. Wags and Walks, a rescue organization in Los Angeles, notes that dogs enjoy training and it can be a great bonding experience. "As long as you use positive methods to teach your dog, he will LOVE learning. Training also helps your dog understand that they are supposed to take direction from you."
Visit your veterinarian. Even if your dog is in good health, it's important to get him checked out to ensure that there aren't any hidden issues that could cause problems down the road.
Be patient. Bringing a new dog into your home is the first step in a long relationship. And like any relationship, it takes time and patience to build it. There will be ups and downs, and it may take weeks or even months before the two of you have cuddle time on the couch. In fact, Certified Professional Dog Trainer Katelyn Schutz of Wisconsin Pet Care writes that three months "is the estimated time it takes for a new pet to fully settle down into a routine of a household."
Get pet insurance, too. Dogs bring a lot of joy and happiness with them, but they can also need expensive medical care. Pet insurance can help you cover many of those unexpected costs.
In fact, if you have your home insurance through Pekin Insurance, you may find pet insurance more affordable than you imagine.
Call your agent today to find out more.