Whether you are bringing home a puppy that is ready to explore or a rescue pup that needs a little patience and coaxing to adjust, the first week is filled with preparation and lots of new experiences. How can you help your pup feel comfortable on day one? What in the world do you do during the rest of the week? The following tips will offer helpful suggestions for that first week, setting you up for a joyful life with your furry friend.
Congratulations on bringing home your new dog! After you’ve taken a few hundred photos of your pooch doing the cutest things, it’s time to set up an area for your dog to retreat to (other than your lap!). The space you create should feel safe and comforting to your dog, since they tend to feel the most vulnerable while sleeping – particularly in a new environment. The space should be complete with a comfortable bed and be positioned away from the hustle and bustle of your home so your dog can retreat and relax. And while it might be tempting to let your pooch sleep with you on the first night, this can create a habit that’s hard to break, so do your best to resist the urge.
It might seem like a good idea to leave your pooch to do some exploring of the home on his or her own, but it can actually be really overwhelming. It might look like your pup is happily inspecting each room, but without guidance, it’s just a flurry of new sights and smells. Take your time introducing your dog to the home. Start by letting your dog see where the food and water are located and then proceed with the tour. Skip over any rooms that will be off limits. For the outside tour, keep your dog leashed to avoid a runaway.
According to Puppy Leaks, “Dog’s thrive on routine, and the sooner your new dog learns how your home functions the more comfortable he’ll be,” so now is the time to start establishing a routine. Puppies may be a little quicker to adjust than adult dogs that were used to a certain order of things at the shelter. The key here is to stay consistent with feeding time, bathroom breaks, walks, and bedtime. It might seem a little monotonous at first, but eventually, the two of you will find your flow.
Walking with your dog is a great way to bond and let your dog explore the new neighborhood, but puppies and even adult dogs might need a little leash training first. Start in an area in the backyard before heading out for an actual walk. It is common for dogs to chew on the leash, but it is best to discourage this by using toys as a distraction. If pulling becomes an issue, drop the leash and try again. You can use treats and scratches or rubs as rewards. Keep in mind that the exercise needs of your dog are different depending on their age and breed, but Dogster has a helpful guide.
A visit to the vet is a must for preventative care, as well as treatment of any parasites or diseases your pooch may have picked up. Bring along any information you received when you brought your dog home, including vaccinations. This visit is a good time to bring up any concerns you may have such as appetite or separation anxiety.
You probably already pet-proofed your home before you brought your dog home, but during the first week, your dog is likely to bring some potential issues to your attention. For example, open doors and clutter are an invitation to ramble, and a step-on trash can is needed to prevent your pooch from eating last night’s scraps.
The first week is filled with plenty of snuggles, but it is important that you give your dog some space too. Remind children and other family members that when your pooch retreats to his bed or is playing with toys, it’s okay to leave him be. This isn’t a sign of loneliness; it’s a sign that he is acclimating.
Bringing home a new furry friend is an exciting experience. Don’t let the excitement overshadow the fact that this is a period of adjustment. Take it one day at a time, and soon your new best friend will feel at home.
Jessica Brody is editor of ourbestfriends.pet.
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