Have you just adopted a dog? Here are some recommendations to set your new dog up for success.
Let your dog decompress.
Don’t be in a rush to invite all your friends over or to get your dog out to all your favourite spots. Dogs need to feel safe to be relaxed and happy. Give your dog time to get used to a new life and learn to live and relax in a new home.
If you have a yard, then it’s easy to get your dog out to do their business while you stay close to home. Do this on leash at first, while you get to know your new companion. If your new dog is fearful and gets spooked, panicked dogs can scale almost any fence.
If you don’t have a yard, find a quiet route for toileting that keeps contact with others to a minimum at first.
Make initial outings about exploring, not exercise.
Don’t head out for long hikes or rides. Instead, take short journeys on leash to a variety of locations.
Don’t be in a rush to get your dog off leash. Any previous “come when called” skills will not necessarily translate to a new owner. Take your time and teach your own “Recall” until you are confident you can get your dog back reliably.
Show them the ropes.
Dogs find confidence in predictable patterns, so put something close to your usual routine in place right away so your dog can get used to what happens daily. Go out at frequent intervals for toileting and provide meals at regular times.
Come and go at normal times but in much shorter increments so you can assess your dog’s comfort at being left alone. If your dog needs to be confined, take the time it takes to train this at a comfortable pace for your dog.
Put simple boundaries in place from the start. If you don’t want your dog on the furniture, make rules clear by simply preventing access. Don’t let your dog do whatever they want at first, then change the rules later – it’s confusing and unsettling.
Incorporate lots of mentally enriching activities.
Use treat-dispensing toys for feeding and daily entertainment so your dog has some easy but mentally challenging activities to enjoy while getting used to your home. If you have a yard, toss kibble around the yard to sniff out – it’s fun and enriching. These simple activities will help your new dog relax and expend some energy while at the same time build confidence.
With some thoughtful planning, you can help your dog feel safe and begin building that positive partnership from day one. Enjoy your new dog!