Bringing Home A New Dog — The Do’s and Don’t’s
The first few days in your home are special and critical for a pet. Your new dog will be confused about where they are and what to expect from you. Setting up some clear structure for your dog will be paramount in making it as smooth a transition as possible.
Jo Maisey, from dog welfare charity, Hope Rescue, explains the do’s and don’t’s when introducing a new dog into your home.
- Don’t try to force any kind of interaction. A dog needs to be able to make a choice. Any forced interactions are likely to make a dog more fearful.
- Don’t attempt to lure a dog with a treat out of his safe place, towards you or into an area he is not comfortable with. If he chooses to come towards you or interact with you, reinforce by throwing him a treat.
- Don’t speak to the dog.
- Don’t make eye contact.
- Don’t fuss.
- Don’t touch. However, if your dog approaches you and solicits attention or reassurance, by all means give it. Just keep things quiet, gentle and low key.
- Don’t attempt to get your dog to play. If he solicits play, then you can join in, but again keep it short and low key. Sometimes stress shows itself by a dog behaving in what seems to be a playful manner.
- Don’t give him a bath or groom him. You may think he’s smelly, but he won’t care much. Looking and smelling pretty is not important. Not putting him through something he finds unpleasant or scary is very important.
- Don’t invite all your family and friends over. He does not need to meet the whole world right now. Plenty of time later.
- Don’t allow children too near him. Children can be noisy and behave in an unpredictable manner (to a dog).
- Don’t introduce him to your cat, chickens, rabbit, gerbil, etc. That can happen later when he is relaxed and settled. He is more likely to be reactive when he is stressed.
- Don’t be concerned if he doesn’t eat. Stress often inhibits appetite. However after a day or so or if in any doubt, consult with your vet to rule out any possible physical cause.
- Don’t take him for a walk. He just needs to settle.
- Make sure your dog is wearing a collar with an ID tag before allowing him into the garden in case of emergencies. He should also be micro-chipped.
- Be as calm and as matter of fact around the dog as you possibly can. Try to ensure that the environment is as stress free as possible. You should be in control of the environment and manage everyone in it.
- Provide the dog with easy access to clean water
- Dogs need a place where they feel safe, so ensure he has a safe place where he does not feel forced to interact with anyone or anything unless he wants to. This can be a crate or corner of a room, for instance. Make sure this is a place where his space is not invaded; where he can withdraw to if he does not want to interact.
- It’s for your dog to decide where he feels safe. This may even be in another room from you and the family.
- After a couple of hours you can offer a small meal. You should just put the food down and walk away to leave him to eat in peace.
- Don’t make any big changes to his diet as it could lead to digestive issues. Any change should be extremely gradual. Don’t panic if the dog doesn’t seem interested in a meal — no matter how high value it is. Stress often surpasses appetite.
- Offer small amounts of frequent meals. You can also make the food a little more high value. Some insecure dogs may not eat when people are present. However, there is also the other end of the scale. The half-starved dog who just can’t get enough to eat. This can also be a sign of anxiety. Even with a greedy dog, smaller regularly-spaced meals would be better. This is to ensure a healthy gut and avoid digestive problems developing. Your dog will also associate your approach with something good (food) and is therefore more likely to make good associations.
Adaptil & Hope Rescue have recently launched their Happy Homes Initiatives. The project has been set up to help rescue dogs find their forever home. Watch the video below to find out more: