BRINGING HOME YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND
The first few days in your home are both special and critical for a new pet. It is imperative you allow a dog time to adjust. Your dog will be confused about where he is & what to expect from you. Setting up some clear structure with your family for your dog will be paramount in making as smooth a transition as possible:
Dog-proof the area where your pooch will spend most of his time during the first few months. This may mean: taping loose electrical cords to baseboards; picking up kids toys; shoes in closets only; storing household chemicals on high shelves; removing plants, rugs, and breakables; setting up the crate, and installing baby gates.
Do a yard check -- look for loose boards, faulty latches, hidden holes/gaps, and other places a dog may be able to escape.
Buy/bring an ID tag with your phone number on it with you before you take your dog home. ALL DOGS SHOULD WEAR A HARNESS W/ A LEASH, AS WELL AS A SLIP LEAD AROUND THE NECK FOR THE FIRST FEW WEEKS. Double up to keep your new dog safe. SLIP LEADS are available at pet shops and will cinch if your dog tries to back up out of it (scared or startled by a loud noise this can happen in the blink of an eye). Dogs have no idea where they are or who you are; the first few weeks in a new home is the highest likelihood of flight risk. PUPPIES SHOULD ONLY BE CARRIED IN PUBLIC SPACES UNTIL THEY HAVE COMPLETED THEIR 3 SHOT DHPP SERIES.
Start a list of dog supplies you will need: Bed, crate (if necessary), leashes, harness, collar, food, bowls, treats, id tags,etc.
Along with shopping for items, make sure you have done your research on local vets. It's very important to trust your vet -- so ask around for referrals! We also highly recommend & sometimes MAY REQUIRE, first-time owners enroll in dog/puppy-training classes. Even if you have owned dogs in the past, trainers can be useful for helping a new dog adjust to homes with other dogs/animals/cats/children!
day 1: Coming Home
We know moving is stressful — and your new dog feels the same way! Give him time to acclimate to your home and family before introducing him to strangers. Make sure children know how to approach the dog without overwhelming him.
Not eating/gastrointestinal problems from the stress of transition can be common in dogs during the first week of adoption.
On the way home, your dog should be safely secured -- crate, seat belt, leash tied around set, or held in passengers arms. Make sure they are double leashed with harness and tags on them before leaving the property.
Once home, immediately take him to his designated potty area & spend a good amount of time with him so he will get used to the area and relieve himself (give treat for going potty). Even if your dog does relieve himself during this time, be prepared for accidents. Coming into a new home with new people, new smells and new sounds can throw even the most housebroken dog off-track.
If you plan on crate training your dog, leave the crate open in an accessible area so that he can go in whenever he feels like it in case he gets overwhelmed! The crate is not a tool for punishment, rather a safe space. Make sure it has kongs/treats to occupy the dog. Make sure the children know that the crate is off limits. Please make sure you understand how / how not to properly use a crate before beginning.
For the first few days or even weeks, remain calm and quiet around your dog, limiting too much excitement (such as the dog park or neighborhood children). Not only will this allow your dog to settle in easier, it will give you more one-on-one time to get to know him and his likes/dislikes!
Please keep in mind, your dog may be the product of a never-ending series of scrambled communications and unreal expectations that will require patience on your part. There is no such thing as overnight perfection & THE DOGS NEED TIME TO ADJUST.
The following weeks
People often say they don’t see their dog’s true personality until several weeks after adoption. Your dog may be a bit uneasy at first as he gets to know you. Be patient and understanding while also keeping to the schedule you intend to maintain for feeding, walks, etc. This schedule will show your dog what is expected of him as well as what he can expect from you.
We highly recommend adopters enroll in dog-training classes so you can learn to read your dog's body language and learn how to better communicate with your dog.
After several weeks you may want to take your dog to the dog park. HFP does not recommend dog parks for safety reasons. Many dogs thrive with the companionship and company of other dogs so please consider doing pack walks with family, friends and neighbors. This is a safe, fun way for dogs to interact with one another and can be done daily. Individual play dates also provide a safe, more controlled environment for dogs to play. If you still would like to go to a dog park, please stick to ones with fewer dogs. Pay close attention to your dog’s body language & always remain close to monitor interactions. Make sure you and your dog have a good base of basic commands (especially recall & “look”); a good relationship means they are more likely to respond/listen to you in moments that you need them to.
Baby steps will lead to success; be patient with the process and you will reap the greatest of rewards — a new family member, and best friend forever