Five Tips For Getting A New Dog Adjusted To Your Household

July 14, 2016 6:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Photo Courtesy of Simon & Schuster


Alexandra Kleinkpof is a devoted animal enthusiast and an avid supporter of animal shelters and rescues. She has had the privilege of spending the early part of her career writing and editing publications for national non-profit organizations The Humane Society of the United States and the Animal Welfare Institute. Alexandra lives in Washington, DC, with her fiancé; they are both looking forward to the joys of homeownership and the chance to foster dogs in need of a loving home.

Her new book from sister company Simon & Schuster, The Rescue Dog Bucket List is the dog lover’s guide to making every moment count. Full of ways for owners everywhere to celebrate their best friend with hundreds of ideas for special treats, fun activities and exciting adventures to embark upon together.

Congratulations on taking the plunge! Now that you’ve officially decided to foster or adopt a new dog (and especially if that pup is a rescue dog), you’re about to discover just how rich and rewarding your life together can be. But as is the case with any new parents, your next-day arrival may naturally feel a little overwhelming at first. But don’t worry—Alexandra Kleinkopf, author of a heartwarming new book for dog lovers The Rescue Dog Bucket List, has provided some helpful suggestions and guidance to help you through that preliminary period of “Oh my Gosh … I’ve got a dog!”

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Prep Ahead Of Time

Bringing home a new dog can sort of be like bringing home a new baby. It involves a lot of adjustment on everyone’s part, and the more you prepare for the arrival ahead of time, the better your chances are of having a smooth transition. Make sure you have all the necessary supplies in order before you bring your rescue home. That includes a leash, a collar, food and water dishes, a crate, bedding … you name it.

Run through a plan in your head of how the homecoming and first couple of days will go.
Walk through each hour of the day, step by step, to help illuminate anything you may have forgotten that still needs attention, such as dog-proofing your living room.

Also decide what the house rules will be for your dog, in order to reduce confusion and conflicting signals during what is bound to already be a slightly confusing time for both of you.

Have An ID Tag Ready

Before bringing your dog home from the shelter or rescue, have an ID tag made up with his or her name and your contact information. That way, if Lady wanders off, she won’t wind up in a shelter again awaiting adoption! Eventually, having your vet mircrochip your dog is one of the most effective ways to ensure she’s returned to you if she ever gets lost. Remember to register the chip and update your contact info if you move or change phone numbers.

Related: 6 Must-Read Books For Dog Lovers

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Stock Up On Pup’s Favorite Food And Treats

Your dog will experience a lot of overnight changes when you bring her home, but diet should probably not be one of them. Ask her previous caretakers what and when they’ve been feeding her so you can maintain a consistent regimen and avoid any unnecessary stomach upset in the first week. Check with your vet if phasing in a new diet would be beneficial, and learn how to read dog food labels and what nutritional information to look for.

Also, don’t forget that teaching your dog new tricks and behaviors through positive reinforcement requires a lot of treats! Make sure you have kibble-sized rewards so you don’t wind up overfeeding him over the course of his training. Overfeeding leads to obesity in dogs, which can cause serious health issues, like diabetes and arthritis. Talk to your vet about the appropriate daily caloric intake for your dog, based on his size and lifestyle.

Even Grown-Pups Need Potty Training

Whether your dog is allegedly housetrained or not, be prepared to spend a fair amount of time working with him on this, since a new environment can cause confusion. As soon as you get home for the first time, take him directly to where he will be expected to relieve himself, and continue to take him out with extra frequency for the first week or so to avoid accidents. If you’re going to be using a crate, make sure your dog has free access in and out while you’re in the house so he can associate the crate with a safe place instead of confinement or punishment.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Establish A New Routine From The Get-Go

As excited as you and your household may be about welcoming a new member, try to take things easy and quiet for the first few days, especially if your dog is a more timid type, to allow him time to get used to the idea that this is his home too, and these are his people. You may also want to keep him in one room or general area for the first couple days to keep him from feeling overwhelmed in a new, large place.

Immediately starting a reliable daily routine is an excellent way to abate your dog’s anxiety. A new setting and new family for her means she has no idea what to expect next, so by making mealtimes, potty times, and bedtime predictable, it will help keep her calm.

Consistency is key with your new dog. Try not to give mixed signals by letting her think a behavior is acceptable, then showing her it’s not, or vice versa. Use clear, simple verbal cues consistently to help build her vocabulary and solidify what certain words mean. You’ll also want to make training easy and achievable, then increase the difficulty as she learns in increments.

Dogs want to do the right thing and please their owner, so it’s important to set the stage so they can build their confidence and their comprehension of what you’re asking of them.

Related: 6 Tips For Owning A Dog In Urban Areas

Alexandra Kleinkpof is a devoted animal enthusiast and an avid supporter of animal shelters and rescues. She has had the privilege of spending the early part of her career writing and editing publications for national non-profit organizations The Humane Society of the United States and the Animal Welfare Institute. Alexandra lives in Washington, DC, with her fiancé; they are both looking forward to the joys of homeownership and the chance to foster dogs in need of a loving home.

Her new book from sister company Simon & Schuster, The Rescue Dog Bucket List is the dog lover’s guide to making every moment count. Full of ways for owners everywhere to celebrate their best friend with hundreds of ideas for special treats, fun activities and exciting adventures to embark upon together.

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