Tips on welcoming your new furry family member into your home!
Congratulations! You’ve adopted a new dog! Your life is about to be enriched in ways you’ve never dreamed possible. So… now what? Bringing your new dog home is such an exciting and fulfilling experience, but it can be a bit daunting as well, especially if you’ve never shared your home with a furry companion. Here are some tips to assist you:
*Please understand that it can take 2 weeks for rescue dog(s) to settle into their new environment. Please be patient with them as they decompress and figure out their new role and place within their new family.
1. Be prepared: Before you adopt your dog, please look into training options. The dog coming to you may be well adjusted but all of that can change as the dog enters its new home.
A beginners training class is a positive way to get to know your dog and your dog to know you. Research dog care and nutrition in advance as well and decide which food you’ll feed your dog and how many times a day he’ll eat (suggested feeding twice per day). The more prepared you are, the smoother your new family member’s transition will be.
2. Be flexible: While it’s good to be prepared, remember that your new dog is a living being with a mind of his own, and he may well express preferences that run counter to your plans. If the sleeping arrangements you’ve laid out just don’t work for him, you may have to shuffle things around a bit. Maintain a good sense of humor and try not to get exasperated. The transition period won’t last forever. Take it slow: get your routine set that works for both of you.
3. Introduce new people, pets and places after you’ve had a chance to bond with your pet over the first week or two. Soon you and your new buddy will have a well-established routine. Please do not leave your new dog alone with young children, elderly, furry friends, or alone in the house with free access to the entire house during the adjustment period.
4. Shop for the basics: You’ll need an ID tag, leash, harness, collar, a bed, food and water dishes and, of course, food! It’s a good idea to have these items in place even before you bring your new dog home. Good collar to get is the martingale type. It has cloth and a small chain so your dog cannot get out of the collar. A harness is preference for walking as is the most secure that the dog can’t get out of if fitted properly.
5. By the way, you’ll notice that a crate isn’t on the list of things to buy in advance. If you plan on crate training, it’s best to take your dog with you when you shop for the crate so you can find the correct size. Or talk to one of Taco Team members and we can assist for size of crate prior to the dog arriving.
6. Make sure all family members are on board: Set some ground rules and make sure everyone in the family agrees to follow and enforce them. For instance, if you don’t want your new dog on the couch, all the training in the world won’t help if your daughter lets him sit there with her when you’re not home. Also, if caring for your dog will be a family effort, be certain everyone understands and agrees to their particular roles and responsibilities.
7. Help your new pal adjust: Over the first few days to few weeks, your new dog will be going through an adjustment period. You may notice some symptoms of anxiety, including a lack of appetite and suppressed bowel habits. Your dog may even hide under or behind furniture or stay in one particular room for a few days. Don’t be alarmed—this is absolutely normal behavior for a new rescue dog. By showing your new friend patience and understanding, you’ll be helping him through a tough, scary time and showing him how wonderful his new home really is!
8. Establish a schedule of feeding and walking and be consistent: Try to walk him and feed him at the same times each day and signal the walking and feeding times with the same key words every time. For instance, right before you feed him, you might say, “Dinner time!” A reliable routine is an important tool in successfully integrating your new dog into your family and helping him feel secure. Please keep the feeding area the same each time. Consistency is the key to a happy dog. Please remember to ALWAYS use a sturdy collar and/or appropriate harness. Mexican dogs will run if they get loose. This is not because they are afraid of you, but their natural instinct to life on the streets or get scared.
9. Set aside time to bond: Spend some quiet time with your dog each day, petting him gently and speaking in a soothing voice. Touch is an incredibly powerful method of communication, one that is almost impossible to misunderstand. Show your dog he’s safe and loved, and your relationship will get off to a beautiful start.
10. Everyone needs time alone: Your dog is no exception! Give him/her time every day to be alone and to explore his new surroundings. Observe from a distance to make sure he’s safe, but not close enough to intrude on his “me” time. If the dog comes to you in a crate, do NOT open the crate before arriving home. Once home, open the crate and allow the dog to come out on his own. Do not crawl in the crate to pull him out. This will scare him and may create a problem reaction. If he does not come out right away, do not worry, he is just decompressing. He will come out when he is ready. It can take 10 minutes to an hour to several hours or even a couple days (yes, this happens). If the dog takes a long time to come out, just keep the door open, put water and food outside of the crate and even a pee-pad. If he needs to relieve himself, he will when you are not watching. Go about your own business but do make a point of having activity around the crate. Examples: walk by the crate, move about the room, talk around the crate, just do not sit in front of the crate and wait.
11. Slowly introduce him to new things and people: We know you’re dying to show your amazing new family member to all of your other family and friends but take it slowly! A good rule of thumb is to introduce no more than one new person to your dog each day. Please wait at least 2 weeks before having a “meet my doggie” party. Also, save the first trip to the dog park or any other busy environment for a few weeks later, to avoid overwhelming and confusing him.
12. Visit your Veterinarian: Schedule a first visit to your dog’s new veterinarian during the first week (or immediately upon adoption if you have other pets at home or suspect your new dog might be ill). Bring any and all medical and vaccine records. Many veterinarians will even provide a free first check-up to folks who adopt a rescue pet! Advise your Vet that this is a rescue dog from a non-profit society. This first visit is a great time to get clues about your dog’s personality and past history, so don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions..
13. What does your dog’s body language tell you? Remember, dogs do not have a voice and do not think like humans. A quote from my vet “dogs cannot read”. Profound right? Here are some body language signs:
*Nervous or stressed: a stiff body, single paw lift, licking lips, heavy panting, half moon eye (dogs head is down and stiff while only moving the eyes to look up at you), dog keeps a side body stance, no direct eye contact, back arched into a rounded stance, baring of teeth, tail down with a wag
*Happy and ready: tail fully up and wagging, bum movement side to side (the wiggle), pawing at you to pet, leaning into you for a pet
*Leave me alone: dog comes in a crate and moves to the back of the crate, hiding in the corner
*Forward motion towards a dog: This can be a direct walk towards the dog, hands going towards the dogs face, direct action towards the dog with a leash, anything that shows you are directly going at the dog…this is threatening for a dog!
*Fast movements and loud noises: Even though we suggest lots of movement around a room with a dog hiding in a crate, we do not suggest loud noises and fast moving children around a dog outside of a crate. If your dog has come out of the crate, he will still be very nervous. Fast moving humans, especially little ones can make a dog feel chased. They can lunge out and react. So keep the movements slow. Loud noises for a dog outside of the crate can make a dogs energy feel stressed. He may interpret the tone as being yelled at. Remember, dogs ONLY know and interpret voice tones from humans. So don’t raise your voice in excitement or anger. It can all be interpreted by the dog as “hey it is okay for me to act crazy and excited too” or “wait, she is yelling, I should hide or be scared she may hurt me”. Keeping a calm voice and environment is the best you can do for your dog in the first weeks in the home and ongoing!
14. Things not to do and how a dog interprets:
What to do: Always approach your dog from the side. Any forward movement will make the dog feel attacked. NEVER put your hand towards their face or head. Always approach from the side and the first touches should be at their chest. Get a slip lead on the dog and leave it there while you are home. Leave it on for the entire time unless you are sleeping or away from the house. This allows you to gently grab the leash and not present as directly “attacking the dog” (his interpretation) when clipping his collar. Walk the dog around the house, use the leash to hold your dog and gently pull inward to pet the dog on its chest or side, use the leash to lead outside if the dog is ready (only when ready as potty accidents in the house are better then bites). NEVER leave the leash on the dog while you are not present, this can lead to dangerous situations.
***This forward motion is also a bad situation when you crawl into the crate with a shy dog. This is an absolute NO!
***Remember, dogs feed off your energy!!! They react to how you are reacting. So keep calm and be positive with an assertive stance!!! You are the boss!!!