Things New Dog Owners Should Know
The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.” – Andy Rooney
It’s January, the holidays are over, and if you are like so many others, there’s a new dog that has joined your family. Whether she’s a puppy or a more mature dog, there are things that all new dog owners need to be aware of.
When you make the decision to invite a dog into your home, you need to take it seriously…it’s a big responsibility, but one that comes with great benefits. There are definitely things you need to consider to make this the best experience for everyone involved…this is a lifelong commitment.
If you’re adopting a puppy…
There are very few things that are cuter and sweeter than a new puppy, but while they are young, they may feel like a full time job. Think of it as an investment in a future friendship and a lifelong companion.
- Create routines – Give your new pup order in her life…it will help her learn and understand what is expected of her and what she can expect of you, give her a sense of stability, and create rules and boundaries that the whole family can live with. Everyone in the house needs to live by these boundaries if they are to be effective…example: if the rule is not to feed the pup from the table…everyone lives by it, because the first time someone “cheats” all that’s been learned is wasted and training must begin again.
- Be prepared for possible noisy nights – Puppies are used to sleeping with mom and other siblings, so the first few nights might be accompanied with some crying. Some things you can do are:
- provide your pup with some soft things to snuggle with
- make sure she’s gone potty
- if you’re keeping her in a crate at night – keep the crate in your room if possible
- make sure she has good exercise before bedtime
- limit food and water an hour before bedtime
- have soft music playing
- Prepare your home – Having a puppy in the home isn’t much different than having a toddler…things need to be picked up and put away, and for at least a little while her wanderings should be restricted to within your eyesight.
- Start socializing – Enough can’t be said about starting to socialize your pup at an early age, because it will help her adjust to new people and situations. Well socialized pups make well-adjusted dogs.
- Find a good vet – An important part of being a good pet parent is to keep your dog healthy, which includes visits to the vet. Find one that you like and your puppy is comfortable with when you’re making regular visits for checkups and immunizations.
If you’re adopting an adult dog…
When you first bring your new adult dog home, one of the main things you’ll need to do is to make her feel safe and welcome. This is a big deal for her, she’s already been in at least one other home, she could be nervous, confused, or a bit fearful…you can help her adjust.
- Follow a routine – As with a new puppy, developing routines will help your adult dog adjust much sooner. Routines create a feeling of security, because your new dog will begin to know what to expect…things like when she will be fed, when she will go out, where she will sleep, consistent times for going for a walk, will all help her feel secure in her new home.
- Set up a safe quiet spot – All this newness can be a little overwhelming for your new furry friend, find a quiet spot or room where you can put her crate or bed and she can retreat there for a little peace and quiet. If you use a crate, and your dog is allowed to come and go, leave the door open for her.
- Feed familiar food – If possible, for the first week or so, feed your new dog the same type of food she is used to eating. Not only will this have a calming effect on her, but you won’t upset her stomach by trying something new. If you want to switch to a different food, start introducing it to her the second week and see how she and her tummy react.
Understanding the 3-3-3 Rule –
Adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue is a wonderful thing, but it can bring with it challenges you may not find if you’re adopting a puppy. But don’t let that keep you from bringing home that special dog you met at the dog shelter…become familiar with the 3-3-3 rule for rescue dogs it’s all about timing:
- the first 3 days your dog can feel nervous, overwhelmed, and not eat or sleep a lot
- the first 3 weeks is a time for settling in, playing more, understanding limits and responding to training
- the first 3 months is all about bonding, building trust, continued training and becoming best friends
Don’t give up on your new dog if things don’t run as smooth as you think they should, remember, every good thing takes a little time, love and patience. Whether your new dog is young or old, always be patient (even when it’s challenging), have realistic expectations and use positive reinforcement with lots of treats and praise…you’ll be rewarded with a great “best friend”.
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