The arrival of your new dog is certainly a cause for celebration, but that doesn’t mean that you should throw a surprise welcome home party and invite everyone you know.
Remember that from her point of view, she’s in a strange place, surrounded by strange faces.
Your new dog, like all dogs, needs to feel that she’s part of the pack. From now on, her pack consists of you and your family, so it’s important to let her know she belongs from day one.
“Don’t segregate the dog from the rest of the family,” says Dr. Whittington. “She may view thing as being ostracized and feel she’s done something wrong. Keep her with you, play with her, cuddle her, and just let her be with the family.”
This is especially important for an adult dog. “Spend as much time as possible with her the first few days,” advises Susan Bonhower, a Newfoundland breeder in Cornwall, Ontario. If possible, let your dog go wherever you go until she feels secure enough to be exploring on her own.
When you first walk in the door with your new friend on her leash, take her to the room where she’ll likely spend a lot of her time, such as the kitchen. Keep distractions to a minimum as she explores her new world, sniffing and searching to her heart’s content. Leave her leash on but let her drag it around. This way, if she tries to nibble a chair leg, you can gently distract her. But save the training for later. You want this first experience to be purely positive. Show her the food and water dishes you’ve got especially for her, also her toys and basket. Tell her how happy your are she’s joined the family.
With all the excitements, your dog will likely have to go to the bathroom before long. Now’s the time to introduce her to her designated toilet spot in the yard. It’s important that you’re okay with this spot as well, since she will return to it over and over again.
Something Old, something new:
She’s feeling homesick, a bit lost and alone, maybe even wishing she was back in her old bed with her brothers and sisters. One way to soften the strangeness is to minimize the changes.
Feed her the usual. Changing her diet right away can upset and already nervous stomach, so feed her food she’s used to eating. A pup’s digestive system, in particular, may not cope with the change, says Dr. Wilford. “Diarrhea commonly results. If you want to change her food, wait a week or two, then gradually introduce the new food.” It’s not likely that your new dog will refuse to eat.
Let her have a memento. “It’s good to take something the puppy had when she was with her mother and littermates,” suggests Bonhower.
“Maybe it’s a toy she played with or even a towel that has the smell of home on it.”
If you’re adopting an adult dog, bring along one of her toys or her comfort pillow. If she’s from a shelter make her present of a new toy when you pick her up. Let her sniff it, and when you get home put it alongside her bred.
Where to Sleep:
Opinions vary over the best place for your new dog to bed down. Close to you will be especially reassuring on the first night. But if you get allergies, or she snores, you might need some distance.
“Start a puppy off in the room you eventually want to her to sleep in,” says Jeanine Murphy, a dog trainer in Somers, New York.
An adult dog might have her own ideas about where she’ll sleep – a particular corner of the kitchen, for example. As long as it’s okay with you, move her bed to he chosen spot.
This is one place where the newcomer will truly feel part of the pack. But should she sleep on your bed? As a pack animal, your dog follows a strict hierarchy – one in which you, and all the human members of your family, are considered “top dogs.” Will letting her sleep on your bed give her the wrong idea about her status?
Your bedroom, even the bed, is quite acceptable, as long as it’s okay with you, says Wayne Hunthausen, D.V.M., an animal behaviorist in Westwood, Kansas, and author of Practitioner’s guide to pet behavior problems. “Ninety percent of dogs can sleep on bed without showing any signs of dominance or aggression.”
The kitchen is a good place for your dog’s bed. At night it’s quiet, whereas it’s usually the hub of the household activity during the day – the perfect spot for lots of attention and socialization.
A cozy basement can be a great spot to set up her bed – especially for a large dog, or a pup that’s going to be a giant. But don’t just put her there to sleep. Play with her there so she feels settled.
A Secure Bed:
When it comes to your dog getting her shut – eye, the question is: crate versus basket? A crate may seem cruel, like a jail, but a roomy crate that’s the right size for your dog can be favorite place.
For a pup, a crate really is the best solution. “It dramatically reduces house training problems and destructive chewing until the pup has grown into a dependable adult,” says Janet Lalonde, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in Alexandria, Ontario.
An older dog may not like being confined in this way. She might prefer a basket, an exercise pen, or a dog run set up in the basement. “If you’re adopting a shelter animal, who may not tolerate any kind of confinement well, you can as a last resort, consult your vet about medication to calm her until she becomes accustomed to the new situations,” says Dr. Hunthausen.
Crate or basket, be sure to put in a dog cushion with a washable cover and leave a toy nearby.
Reassure your dog as you introduce her to her new bed. When it’s time to sleep, put in her toy or blanket. Comfort her, then say goodnight.
An older dog might not sleep the night through at first. And a pup is likely to wake up and whine. Take her out in case she needs to go say Dr. Whittington. If she keeps it up, try again 15 minutes later, then ignore her. Make her realize that nighttime is for sleeping.