Are you bringing a new puppy home? Here are some tips to help you get off on the right paw! So you have a new dog! This is usually a very exciting and happy time for owners! As humans, we tend to become over-excited and fuss over the new addition and treat it as the massive happy event it usually is for us!
Although we should enjoy and treasure these first moments, we also need to keep in mind that for the dog, being introduced to a new and unfamiliar environment can be stressful. The dog has not chosen this new territory and life; you have chosen it for them. How would you feel if you were in this same situation? They have no idea what to expect and understandably can feel insecure and bewildered. First impressions last, and we want these to be positive!
10 Tips to help your dog settle in smoothly.
As much as you may want to cuddle, smother, squeal and show lots of emotion, this has the real potential to stress your dog. Your energy and emotion provide an enormous amount of feedback to your dog, so be mindful here. They won’t understand that your excitement and intense focus means you are happy and plan on caring and loving them forever – even if this is your intent! Try to provide a calm and quiet atmosphere, and only share affection when both of you are relaxed and feeling good. Sharing love when your new dog is insecure, stressed or anxious will anchor this and accidentally confirm that this is how they should feel when they are with you and the new environment. An anxious dog craves stability and leadership, not treats and cuddles. This is hard for many owners to understand as that is what would make us feel better, but this is not how dogs think or act. Wait for the right moments.
Be mindful that it is not always a good idea to get a new puppy while you are still grieving for your previous dog. This is not the energy you want your dog to associate with you and your new relationship. If you can, wait until you are in a safe place again before introducing a new dog, or you run the risk of projecting your sadness onto your new dog and anchoring imbalance in them.
Find a Safe Place
Allocate your new dog a special ‘safe’ place to have time out and give them lots of opportunities to spend time here. Give them a chance to “hide” when they are overwhelmed. A crate or playpen is perfect for this.
Go for a Walk
We encourage that the very first thing you do with a new dog, even before entering your yard or attending puppy preschool, is to take them for a long calm walk. This allows you to bond, form a new pack and burn off excess energy. It will also develop a peaceful, passive association with you that fosters trust. If you have another dog, take them with you on this walk as well.
By Invitation Only
It’s up to you to ‘claim’ your house and yard or your puppy will! Because you can’t tell them verbally, you’ll need to show them it’s yours. After your walk, enter the home or yard first and invite them inside. Insist they come in respectfully. Your aim is to maintain a calm and passive energy throughout this entire initiation period. You wouldn’t let anyone else rush into your home, so don’t allow a dog to. If you’re struggling with this, we suggest initially keeping them on a leash.
Let them approach you
Let the puppy approach everyone else (including kids and cats), rather than everyone approaching the puppy. In the dog world, it is seen as submissive behaviour for the lower ranking pack members to approach the higher ranking ones.
Share affection appropriately
Keep any patting and swooning to a bare minimum at first. It will confuse the puppy as to why everyone is submitting to them when they are the new kid on the block.
Set the boundaries
Think about how you would like this new puppy to behave in the months and years to come and create it NOW. Provide lots of structure and set clear boundaries straight away. You can always promote them later on when all the basics have been established.
Accept their pecking order
If you have another dog, you will need to allow both dogs to work out their own hierarchy and accept their rank. You cannot choose this for them, and you should not interfere or try to ‘boost’ the underdog. That is a fast way to create conflict between dogs.
Show empathy not pity
If you have a ‘rescue’ dog, although they may have come from a bad situation, it is counterproductive to “feel sorry” for them. Having pity for another being is a human emotion and will only be interpreted as weak energy. It doesn’t help. Dogs live in the moment and don’t carry baggage like humans do. Start afresh from today and move on.
If your new dog starts to display behavioural issues that worry you or that you can’t get on top of yourself, get professional a puppy trainer straight away. Nipping it in the bud can save you hours of time and effort.