Bark n Wag 15 Minute Vet Talk

Thinking of rescuing a dog over the holidays? Here are tips on how to acclimate your new pup to your house.

Dec. 16, 2018

Tips from the Humane Society on bringing home a new dog. Bringing home a new dog can be one of the most joyous experiences of your life, but you have to make sure you have a solid plan to avoid some of the pitfalls that can lead to problems down the road. You also need to be patient. 

Acclimating a new dog to your home can take as long as two months, so be sure you’re in it for the long haul. And remember, your new family member doesn’t understand what you’re saying. He learns what is and isn’t allowed from how you behave, your tone of voice, what rules you set, and all of the nonverbal cues you give him. 

Here are 7 tips the Humane Society recommend to acclimate your new dog to your home:

1.  Have all needed supplies ready before Fido walks through the door

These include a food and water bowl, a leash, age-appropriate food (don’t give a puppy adult dog food) and treats, a collar and ID tag, and a crate if you plan on crate training. It’s also a good idea to have a few toys ready for him.

 

2.  Set the rules of the house in advance

You have to decide who will take care of feedings and who will take him for daily walks. Decide ahead of time what your dog is allowed to do, and what’s not permitted, and be consistent. For example, are you going to let him up on furniture, and if so, in what rooms? Where will he sleep?

 

3.  Do some research on housebreaking

Housebreaking your new dog is actually easier than you might think—all it takes is patience and consistency. Be prepared for accidents—again, remember that your dog doesn’t understand the rules until you teach them to him.  Establish a consistent schedule for feeding your dog and taking him outside to go. 

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If you bring home a puppy, he’ll have to go more often; plan on taking him out every two hours. Always take him to the same place in the yard (he’ll know from scent what you want him to do). 

When he has an accident, interrupt him if you catch him in the act. Make a startling noise, or simply say “outside,” but be sure not to frighten him. Immediately take him to his outside “go location.” Above all, don’t ever punish your dog for having an accident, and always reward him for getting it right.

 

4. Take him to a vet within the first week

Even dogs adopted from reputable breeders and shelters are prone to diseases, so he has to have his shots as soon as possible if he doesn’t already have them. Take him to a vet to receive all his vaccinations. It’s also important to spay or neuter your dog.  The best age to spay or neuter is from 6 to 9 months.

 

5. Crate your dog for several hours a day

Many new owners don’t want to crate their dogs because they think it’s cruel. Actually, dogs in the wild live in dens, so to your dog the crate represents safety and helps him relax. Be sure the crate is the right size (check with your vet) and doesn’t have dangerous wires where he could catch his claws or hurt himself. Generally, you don’t want to crate your dog for more than a few hours each day, and always at the same time (remember—consistency!).

6. Let your dog know who the pack leader is

It’s important for dogs to be submissive to their owners. Dogs are pack animals and will be calmer and less anxious if they know from the outset that you set the rules. It’s important to be assertive, letting him know clearly and consistently what the rules and boundaries are, but equally important to always remain calm. When he makes a mistake, convey your disapproval in a firm but calm tone. When he behaves properly, give him positive reinforcement in the form of praise and a treat.

 

7. Give him plenty of exercise

Dogs have a lot of pent up energy, especially when they’re young. A regular schedule of exercise is critical to his physical and emotional health. Take him for walks, give him a place where he can run free, and play active games with him.

 

Remember...  

If this is your first dog, you might be a little anxious and concerned that you'll make mistakes. The truth is, you probably will, but if you follow the steps outlined here, stay calm and provide your dog with love, structure and discipline, he'll be happy, and so will you.

If you have questions, you can always check with your vet who will be happy to listen and give you good advice. Here at South Boston Animal Hospital, we're always willing to help you forge a great relationship with your dog and keep him as healthy as possible. If you have questions or need helpful advice, contact us today. 

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