Dogs are man's best friend. They display undeserved affection for us, and through thick and thin, our dogs remain loyal to us.
It's no wonder that dogs have become the most popular pets in America - 65.1 million American households own a dog. And many kindhearted individuals opt to adopt a rescue dog. This is a wonderful idea, as there are over 3 million shelter dogs throughout the US alone.
But if this is the route you're considering, how do you prepare your family and other dogs to successfully deal with the idea of a new dog in their space?
You see, there will be an adjustment period for you, your new dog, and other family members - those of the furry, feathered, and scaly kind. Needless to say, then, you need to be prepared!
Let's answer these three questions and pass on some of our top tips to make welcoming a new dog to your family a huge success.
Buying The Right Supplies
All dogs need more stuff than you expect to settle into your home. If you can, bring items from their last home, shelter, or breeder to help them feel more comfortable.
Also, keep in mind that your new dog, old or young, will probably be overwhelmed with its new surroundings on the day you get it. So avoid taking them along for a massive shopping spree.
Before bringing your pooch home, make sure you have:
Get age and breed-appropriate dog food. Remember that puppies still in their development stages will likely need food with different nutrients to help their bones grow strong and healthy.
Older dogs, on the other hand, will benefit from soft kibble or wet food that won't hurt their aging teeth and digestive systems.
It's also a good idea to feed your dog some food they're familiar with and gradually introduce a new brand to avoid stomach upsets.
Water and Food Bowls
Introducing your new dog to their own water and food bowls from the beginning is a great way to help them get comfortable with their new environment from the first day.
Again, keep their age and breed in mind to select the correct size bowls. Puppies grow extremely fast, and their appetites will outgrow those tiny food bowl portions in no time!
Collar and Harness
A perfect-fit dog collar or harness is the equivalent of your favorite pair of jeans in your cupboard. When you wear it, you just feel good about yourself.
But collars and harnesses play a much more important role than making your pup just feel good about themselves. It's a way of showing the world that your pooch is loved and cared for.
Dogs with collars are much less likely to be mistaken for runaway or street dogs. So even if you plan to walk your dog on a harness, they should have a collar for their ID tags.
If your new pet is a heavy puller, meaning they tend to pull hard on their leash when out on a walk, consider getting them a harness instead of a collar for their daily walks.
Toys are a good way to help a new dog cope with the anxieties and stress of adjusting to a new home. Get them a chew toy or even a soft snuggly toy (for puppies) and they'll love you for it.
Dog crates are usually used when transporting your dog to and from the vet, the groomer, or even to the dog park.
You don't want your dog to associate crate time with anything negative, as it will be a huge ordeal each time they need to get in it.
So get your dog a crate as soon as possible, make it comfortable, and encourage them to view the crate as a safe space. This will make any future crate trips a pleasant experience.
When purchasing a crate you should remember that puppies will outgrow a small crate (if their breed dictates it) very quickly, so get them the appropriate size - they should be able to get up and turn around in their crate without too much difficulty.
You'll want to get some pee pads if you're bringing a puppy home. Your puppy won't know where to go for bathroom breaks in the first few weeks so a few pee pads will come in handy.
Both adult and young dogs need house training to know what's expected of them, so be patient with your new dog.
Now that you have the essentials, you need to think about how your dog will deal with its new environment. If he or she was the only dog in its previous home, he'll need to adapt to sharing a living space with other animals or family members.
Identify a separate area in your home where they can adjust and find their feet before being introduced to the rest of the pack. Designate this area as the adjustment area for your new dog and make sure it's off-limits to your current dog.
Make sure he has food, water, and even his crate to sleep in and feel safe. If all goes well, you can introduce your dog to the rest of the family within a day or two.
Preparing Your Home
As mentioned, bringing a new dog home for the first time can be very exciting. But you don't want that excitement to transfer or evolve into anxiety.
An anxious dog could become destructive to its surroundings, taking its frustration out on furniture or other chewable objects.
So pet parents want to keep a close eye on their dogs' body language and be quick to identify telltale signs of stress - before losing their favorite pillow to the slobber.
You also want to make sure there's a quiet time designated in and around the home, this will help calm your new dog and make them feel less anxious.
Ensure the front door, windows, and front gate are closed properly, as you don't want your dog escaping from your premises.
Introducing Family Members and Other Dogs
You will hopefully have an opportunity to introduce your adoptee to your resident dog before bringing him home. This will help your current dog establish a relationship before feeling like an intruder dog is infiltrating its private space - dogs can be very territorial!
So it's best to have dogs meet in a neutral location, like a dog park.
However, if you didn’t have the opportunity, or if you have a cat or other pets that can’t easily be taken somewhere to meet a new pet, you should introduce your new dog slowly and carefully to the other furry family members.
One thing you can do is to swap items between your new and existing pets so they get the chance to sniff and smell each other before meeting face to face. After your new pup has had a chance to adapt to your home, you can try introducing them to your other pets with a baby gate in between them or even outside on leashes.
Establishing a Routine
Dogs thrive on routine.
So, establish a regular routine for daily activities like feeding, sleeping, playing, and exercising as soon as possible.
A good training routine is always a good idea. You could use treats as a reward for good behavior and train your dog to go on long walks alongside your other animals. This routine will be good for your entire household.
Welcoming a new dog into your home is an incredibly heartwarming experience filled with wagging tails and endless cuddles. Remember to shower them with love, patience, and plenty of belly rubs as they adjust to their new surroundings.
If you get the basics right - providing the necessities and properly introducing them to the family - you can successfully integrate your new puppy into your household.
And then sit back and get ready for a lifetime of joy, laughter, and endless doggy kisses!