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How to Treat a New Dog

When you get a new dog, it’s important to figure out how to treat it as it adjusts to its new life. A new dog will need some special care as it gets to know you and your home. With this in mind, be sure that you care for all of its basic needs and begin training it right away. Also introduce it to its new home with care, so that it feels comfortable and knows the house rules from the get go.

Setting Up for a New Dog

1. Make your home safe for a dog. Since you don’t know exactly how your new dog will act when you get it home, it’s best to remove all items that might be enticing for a dog to eat or destroy. For example, put all food and chemicals out of reach of a dog so that it doesn’t eat them and get sick.

  • Also put fragile items away until you know how your new dog will act.

2. Create a small temporary space that the dog can be kept in. Set up a space that has a bed and food and water dishes. This space will be for the dog as it gets used to its new home, so it should be an area that can be blocked off so the dog is kept there. Keeping the dog in this small space will help you keep and eye on it and will reduce how overwhelmed the dog may get from getting to know a large new home immediately on arrival.

  • It’s a good idea for this area to have a hard, stain-resistant flooring, in case your new dog has an accident.
  • Depending on your home, this could be a bathroom, a kitchen, or an extra room that doesn’t have a lot of fragile or precious items in it.

3. Get your dog new toys. It’s important to give your new dog items that will entertain it and make it happy. Buy an array of toys so that you can figure out what your new dog likes to play with best.

  • Be sure to get some chew toys, so that your new dog doesn’t start chewing on items that it shouldn’t.

4. Provide items with familiar smells. When you bring a new dog home, bring along something that has its smell on it, such as a blanket, toy, or other item it has used. This smell will help the dog feel comfortable and calm as it adjusts to its new life.

  • That way, even after you give the dog a bath, it will still have something that smells familiar.
  • Ask the person you are dealing with during your dog adoption for an item that you can take with you, even if it's just a small toy.
  • If your dog doesn't have an item like this, that is fine. However, it's a nice thing if it does.

5. Set up a preliminary veterinary appointment. When you bring a new dog home it’s important to get its health assessed right away. Have a check up done within a week of having a new dog so that you can get any health conditions treated right away.

  • If you don’t know what veterinarian to go to, ask friends, family, and the people who you adopted the dog from for suggestions in your area.
  • During your first veterinary visit you should set up a vaccination schedule for the future.

Introducing Your New Dog to its New Home

1. Walk your dog around your home before taking it inside. When you bring a new dog home it’s important to let it get used to the entire area it will be in, not just its actual home. When you take it out of the car, walk it up and down outside of the home and let it sniff around.

  • Then, once its gotten some energy out and hopefully has had a chance to go to the bathroom, you can take it inside.

2. Allow the dog to go in only 1 room at first. In order to control the dog’s movements and to minimize the chance of it destroying anything, keep it contained in the area you have prepared for it. Keeping it in this area for a day or 2 will give it time to calm down before exploring the rest of its new home.

  • If you are going to crate train the dog, have the crate open and in the dog’s area. This will give the dog a chance to get used to it.

3. Minimize the number of people your dog meets. It can be overwhelming for a dog to meet a large number of people while it is adjusting to a whole new life. Instead, only have direct family members at home when the dog arrives and make sure that they give the dog some physical space while it adjusts.

  • Tell potential visitors that they will need to wait at least a few days before meeting your new dog.

4. Remain quiet and calm with the new dog. Give it physical space and don’t get it excited by being loud or active. It’s best just to promote calmness and make activities as routine as possible.

  • Don’t take the dog to a dog park or crowded street for a few weeks after getting it. You need to know how the dog is likely to react to these kind of environments before taking it to them.
  • Don't overdo it with physical affection or playing right off the bat. If you tackle your dog in a way that it sees as beyond just playful rough housing, it might get defensive or aggressive.

Tending to Your New Dog's Basic Needs

1. Provide food and water. When you bring a new dog home it may be worried about getting its basic needs met. Show it that it will not starve by giving it food and water consistently.

  • Feed the dog the same food it has been eating for at least the first few days. Then, if you want to change the food, you should transition onto a different food over the course of a week or 2.

2. Let your dog out to go to the bathroom at least every 2 hours. A new dog may not be perfectly housebroken, so give it ample opportunities to go to the bathroom outside. Stay with the dog as it does its business, so you are sure it goes.

  • This will also give the dog a chance to get to know its new yard and the surrounding area.
  • Let your dog out on a set schedule, including when it gets up in the morning and right after it eats.

3. Give your dog exercise. Make sure that your new dog gets 30 minutes to an hour of exercise every day. To keep it exciting, try taking your dog out to a fun place, for instance a park, a lake, a pet store, or another place where dogs are allowed.

  • While walking your dog, don't let your dog off the leash and make sure that the dog’s collar and leash are secure. A new dog is likely to run away if it gets loose, so be cautious at first.

4. Set a consistent daily routine. A new dog will feel most secure in its new home if it can depend on the same things happening every day. Walking it, feeding it, and putting it to bed at the same time will go a long way towards it feeling at home.

  • A consistent schedule will also help it avoid having accidents in the house. Being fed at the same time and going out at the same time every day will allow its system to adjust quickly to its new life.

5. Start training your dog. When your dog gets home you can start training it after it has acclimated for a day or 2, even if it's a puppy as young as 8 weeks old. Begin with simple commands, such as "sit." Say the word "sit" every time the dog does that action naturally and give it a treat. As the dog figures out that the action it is doing is connected to the treats and the verbal cue, it will begin doing it on command.

  • As you dog learns add more commands, such as "lie down," "stay," and "fetch."

6. Show your dog love and affection. As you get to know your dog, begin to show it how much you like it. Pet it, hug it, and spend quality time with it every day. This will certainly make your beloved pet feel more at home.

  • Talk to your new dog. Tell it how good it is doing and why you are so happy it is with you. Using a cheerful and happy tone with the dog will help it begin to love and trust you.
  • Be sure not to raise your voice, hit, or otherwise be cruel to your dog. Along with being generally bad behavior, this will cause your dog not to trust you, which can impact your relationship and its behavior.