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Bringing a new dog home is such an exciting time no matter if the dog is 8 weeks old or 8 years old. Although it’s exciting, bringing a new dog home can also be stressful, especially if it’s your first dog or you’re not sure how your current dog(s) will react. Luckily, we’re here to help and make your new dog settle in their forever home!
Calling Your Vet
If possible, before bringing a new dog home, you’ll want to call your vet to give them a heads up. Whether you rescue an older dog, buy a puppy or anything in between, you’ll definitely want to get a vet appointment scheduled as soon as possible. Any responsible breeder or rescue should have had already brought your new dog to the vet at some point, so make sure to get previous vet records if possible. Scheduling vet visits early also ensures your new dog doesn’t fall behind on routine vaccine and wellness checks.
Items to Prep Ahead Before
One of the best parts about bringing home a new dog is absolutely spoiling them with goodies in their new home. If your new dog is older, trying finding out from the rescue or seller what kind of toys and treats they like! Why waste money on chicken-flavored treats if your dog hates them? Besides toys and treats, here are some other items you may need before bringing your new dog home:
- Dog Bed
- ID Tag
- Stainless Steel Food/Water Bowls
- Dog Food (You may want to try feeding the same food their eating until you can gradually change it over to avoid tummy troubles)
- Training tools (dog whistle, clicker, etc.)
- Medications (if applicable)
- Grooming Supplies (Brush, nail clippers, etc.)
While this probably isn’t a comprehensive list for every dog, it should help you get prepared! You can also check out our new puppy checklist or our puppy shopping list on Amazon for more ideas!
Introducing Your New Dog to Your Other(s)
Introducing your new dog to your current one(s) can be stressful. Before you rescue a dog, one of the best things to do is to introduce them to your dog before even going home. Usually, rescues will encourage you to bring your current dog to meet your potential new addition, to make sure they’re a good fit. When buying a dog, this isn’t always an option.
When introducing your new dog to your current one, make sure you and another adult have each dog secured on a leash. Introduce the dogs to each other slowly, don’t rush it. Ideally, you’ll keep the dogs apart from each other and decrease the distance between them as they get more used to each other’s presence.
This isn’t an area that I’m an expert in, so I suggest reading this article on Chewy for more information.
Decompression comes in three’s. It’s well documented that your dog will start to decompress and relax after three days, then three weeks, and by three months, they’ll fit right into your family. Understanding decompression is especially important before bringing home a rescue dog, but it can still be beneficial for puppies as well.
At a very basic level, your new pup will spend their first few days figuring out their new space and the people around them. They might be a bit timid at this point. After a few weeks, your new dog should start to become more comfortable with you. They’ll likely start adjusting to your new routine and become more playful and comfortable. By three months, it should feel like your dog has always been a part of the pack. Of course, all dogs are different. Some dogs may take more or less time, so it’s important to be patient and understanding.
Petlist.org has an amazing article about dog milestones here.
Establish a Routine
Establishing a routine when bringing a new dog home is so important. Routines are beneficial for dogs because they can get comfortable knowing what to expect at different points throughout the day. Getting your dog comfortable with you, your home, and life will help with training, setting boundaries, and ensuring they’re less stressed overall. I believe routines are especially important for rescue dogs that have had hard lives, but routines can be great for puppies too. If you always feed, walk, and water your puppy at (roughly) the same time, you can expect when they’re going to need potty breaks and nap time. All in all, having a pretty solid routine
Even if you’ve adopted or purchased a dog that’s already potty trained, you may still have some issues when bringing a new dog home. Sometimes dogs will do their business in a new house if it has unfamiliar smells or textures. Your new dog may also have issues pottying outside. Remember that your new addition is probably very stressed out and they may not be comfortable going to the bathroom at their new house.
For example, I recently just moved and it took nearly two weeks for Odin to get comfortable going to the bathroom outside. If you have this issue, try to be persistent when you bring your dog out and if they don’t go, try again in 15-30 minutes. You can also try walking your new dog around the neighborhood. Walks are always a sure-fire way to get Odin to go!
For any dog that’s not already potty trained, that will be one of your most important tasks as their new dog mom/dad. Potty training can be a long, difficult road, but as long as you stay consistent and know roughly when you’re dog will need to go, you should be all set in the long run.
Training Your New Dog
One of the most exciting things about bringing a new dog home is training it! Training is such a wonderful bonding experience between you and your dog. You learn to trust each other and speak each other’s language. You definitely want to train your dog, puppy or not, early, to bond, set boundaries, and teach commands, but it’s important to take the right approach. With puppies especially, you’ll want to work in short, but effective training sessions. Puppies can easily become bored, so you want to work in short, but frequent training sessions. This technique can also be effective for older dogs, but they can also likely tolerate longer training sessions.
Remember that in the first few days, your dog is still settling in. Make sure you give them plenty of time to understand who you are before jumping into training too fast. Be patient, take your time, and enjoy your wonderful new life with a new dog.