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The Dog Issue: Ten Things to Do in the First 30 Days with a New Dog

Welcoming a new pet into your family is both exciting and challenging. Practicing these basic guidelines can help make the transition smoother and support a successful adoption.



Be Patient

Being in a new home and around new people can be overwhelming to anyone, including your dog. It is important to give your dog time to adjust and become familiar with all the new things she will encounter, including new visitors and other animals. Exposure to these new situations should be positive, and not forced.


Establish a Routine

A consistent and reliable routine is essential for creating a calm and organized environment. This includes feeding and walking schedules, as well as deciding who is responsible for each caretaking task. Disorganization can create a stressful environment that may lead to anxiety and unwanted behaviors in your pet.


Gradually Introduce New Pup to Resident Pup

Introducing your new dog to your resident dog should be a deliberate, step-by-step process, not a one-time event. Be mindful of the dogs’ safety during the interactions, their histories with other animals, their personalities, and their body language. This information can help guide your approach and show whether adjustments are needed. In general, consider the following dos and don’ts:

DO: Use positive reinforcement
DO: Stop interactions if either dog is showing signs of fear or aggression, and try again once they are calm
DO: Have the first interaction on neutral territory, such as going on a walk together
DO: Consider breaks between interactions
DON’T: Force the interactions
DON’T: Leave the resident dog’s toys around the house during the first interactions
DON’T: Ignore signs of a poor encounter and continue with the interaction

Establish Crate Training as Soon as Possible

Crate training can offer many benefits, such as keeping your dog safe when traveling or unattended, as well as making house-training easier. It is important to set up crate training early so that it becomes a part of their routine. The crate should be a safe and comfortable place. If your new dog is showing signs of distress or panic during crate training, seek help from your vet.


Provide Necessary Enrichment

Environmental enrichment is an essential part of animal health and welfare. This includes appropriate bedding, toys, and interactions that increase your dog’s comfort in your home. It is important to watch your dog with new toys to ensure safety. There are many toys available, and the best options are durable toys that are unlikely to be swallowed, break teeth, or become stuck in the mouth.


Find a Positive-Enrichment Dog Trainer

Dog training is more than just teaching a dog to be obedient; it offers physical and mental stimulation, increases your dog’s confidence, develops the human-animal bond, and can improve overall behavior. Training methods should not be painful or aggressive, as these methods can actually lead to more problematic behaviors and to poor animal welfare. Choose a trainer or training class wisely and consider interviewing the trainer or watching a class before selecting one.


Potty Train with Positive Reinforcement

Even dogs that have been housebroken may have accidents at first when introduced to a new environment. Generally, using positive reinforcement and consistent commands such as “go potty” can make house-training easier. Supervising your dog closely when not confined, making frequent trips outside, interrupting (not punishing) an accident, and rewarding your dog immediately after eliminating outside are all recommended techniques.


Transition to New Food or Diet

There are many different diets on the market available to dogs, and a complete and balanced diet is necessary for healthy growth. If your new dog is doing well on his current diet, it may be best to continue with that diet until you can discuss food options with your vet. If a new diet is needed or recommended, it is important to transition your pet slowly by gradually mixing in the new food over 1-2 weeks. A slow transition will reduce the chances of an upset stomach or diarrhea.


Physical and Mental Exercise Are Key

Just like in humans, physical and mental exercise are key for a healthy and content dog. Walking your dog is good physical exercise, but it also provides mental stimulation. Some toys, such as puzzle toys, are also designed to offer mental exercise when your dog is indoors. How much exercise your dog needs may depend on the breed, age, and other factors, so talk to your vet about exercise recommendations.


Establish a Veterinarian Partnership ASAP

A veterinarian is the best resource for your new dog’s health and well-being, so setting up the relationship early will be especially helpful during your dog’s transition to your home. Remember to bring any previous history, medical records, and vaccine records to your first appointment so your vet can perform the necessary tests and vaccines and schedule future visits.


Adopting a dog into your family can be a rewarding experience for both you and your new dog. Being patient and prepared for this event will promote a successful outcome and a fulfilling relationship.

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