Moving to a new home can be stressful for dogs. It’s an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people. Some dogs experience stomach upset and diarrhea. House-trained dogs may regress and have accidents. Some will shy away from you for a while until you earn their trust. Be patient with your baby. It may take a while for him to adore you as much as you adore him. How long it takes is different for every dog. It could take anywhere from three days to three months for your new dog to settle in. Just be patient with him and show him in all of your actions that he is safe with you.
If you’re adopting a puppy rather than an adult dog, expect an adjustment period for yourself, too! Adopting a puppy is like having a baby. There will be lots of potty breaks because their bladder isn’t yet fully developed. Expect to get up a couple of times during the night for potty breaks. If you work, plan to come home everyday at lunch to let your puppy outside to potty. If you can’t come home, consider hiring a pet sitter. Or, use an X-pen instead of a crate and set up a potty area on one side. Just know that a puppy HAS TO potty several times a day and plan accordingly. We recommend writing down every time the dog goes potty (both outside and accidents) so you can begin to see their patterns and how frequently they need to go out. Puppies will also chew on everything available, so don’t make anything available that he shouldn’t chew on.
Establishing the Rules:
It can be tempting when you bring home a new dog to be a little lax on the rules. Resist the temptation now so you can avoid problems later on. It’s much easier to prevent a bad habit from starting than it is to break one. Not only that, but dogs, like children, like rules and structure. It makes them feel more secure to know exactly what is expected of them and exactly what happens if they don’t follow the rules. It also keeps order in the household. If you have other pets who already know the rules, they can get quite stressed out by an unruly newcomer. Whatever you do, do NOT feel sorry for your poor little rescue dog. Nobody wants pity, dogs included. For your dog’s best interest, put whatever sad past he may have had behind him and live in the current moment. He’s with you now, happy and cared for; he has no need for pity.
- Do not leave your new dog unsupervised in the house unless he is crated until he has learned the rules. This way, you can prevent bad habits from forming. If you don’t see him, you can’t stop him!
- No unsupervised time unless crated also helps with house-training. If he doesn’t have a chance to make a mistake, the bad habit won’t form.
- If you don’t want dogs on the furniture, don’t let him on the furniture just because he’s new.
- Expect your dog to break the rules frequently in the beginning. He is not being stubborn or difficult. Dogs have a hard time generalizing, which means that something he learns in the living room will have to be learned all over again in the kitchen and again in the bedroom. It’s easy to get frustrated when you feel like he should understand already, but he still doesn’t. It helps to have a sense of humor. It can take 30-50 or more perfect repetitions before a dog truly “gets” a command.
Licensing & Identification:
If your city requires dogs to be licensed, get this taken care of right away. Licenses can usually be purchased at the Vet’s office. Even if your city does not require a license, it’s a good idea to provide contact information on your dog’s collar. If your pet is lost or stolen, microchipping is a good way to ensure his safe return. Collars can come off, but microchips are there to stay.
Training & Behavior:
Just like children, dogs need to be taught good behavior. Whether you’re bringing home a puppy or an adult, you can expect that he will do some things that you don’t approve of and maybe have some bad habits. Your dog will need to be taught how you want him to behave. The easiest and most fun way to teach your dog is to take him to “school” (training classes). You both get to meet other people and dogs. You get the benefit of expert knowledge and immediate feedback. Your dog gets socialization. Both of you may even make a new friend there.
You can also work on teaching your dog yourself. There are lots of resources available, but it can be difficult to determine which information is bad and which is good. If your dog has habits you’d like to break, don’t give up on him. Teach him instead! Consistency and persistency are key. Be consistent with your verbal cues and hand motions – “sit” and “sit down” sound very different to a dog. One word commands combined with a hand signal are best! Be persistent with your training and set aside time to practice every day until (and even after) your dog reliably responds to your commands.
Training also makes dogs happy. Studies on the brain show that animals like to have their brains challenged. The mental exercise can be just as rewarding (and exhausting) to your dog as physical exercise. 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.