How to Successfully Introduce a New Dog to Your Home

The First Week Home Sets the Tone MarbleonTable

I was so excited when I got my last dog and I said to myself that with all my experience, I ought to be able to get it right. My next thought was, if I did it wrong I could really mess him up in the first week. That was what went through my head the day I brought Marble home. He was an 8-month old breeder rescue from rural North Carolina; so coming into the city was a big change for him. He must really have been thinking, “I wonder how they do things here?”

When I was a child I remember how upsetting it was to get in trouble for doing things that I didn’t know were wrong. In fact, once I knew how adults wanted things done, I usually (though not always) did a much better job of doing them. Even when I went as a guest to someone’s home or sleep away camp, the same thing happened. When I didn’t know what to do, I just tried stuff, and it really hurt to be punished and not know why.

The scope of this article is not to give you a step-by-step plan to introduce your new dog to your home, but it is to convince you to do it gradually and have a plan. I’m going to lay out a few scenarios that will accentuate the need to do it by design, rather than to hope the dog will teach itself how to behave in your home.

You can absolutely count on the fact that when your dog woke up in the morning on the day you got him, he expected it to be just like every other day. It may very well be the best thing that ever happened but again it was not what he expected. If you think about it that way, when you bring a new dog into your home, you can be a lot more successful assimilating him with guidance, not letting him make their own choices. It’s entirely possible your new dog came from somewhere very different from your home. Kudos for giving a dog a home, and even more so if it’s a rehome, but being whisked off from everything he knew was not his plan.

  • A stray might be used to trying to scrounge for food and running from people scolding it from getting into trash.
  • A newly homed breeder pup has just lost its mom and littermates.
  • A pet store dog from a puppy mill has probably undergone several shocks of transition and undoubtedly much more.
  • Even a privately rehomed dog might very well be coming from a place where the rules were very different.

If you don’t teach him, he is just going to try stuff, and he isn’t likely to randomly do things just the way you want. From the dog’s perspective, helping him learn will be a lot more productive. After hearing “No”, “Stop It” or “Bad Dog!” there is no safe direction for your dog to change his behavior.

There are other reasons, and changes that give us cause to go slow as well. Dogs usually are different in their behavior when they arrive in a new home or new environment. The best comparison I can make is to think of an aborigine coming from Australia’s outback and being dropped into New York City. Though he might be confident and a brave outdoorsman in the environment he’s familiar with, he probably will not be in a strange environment. He will prefer to hide in an alley or a stairwell and assess the situation. Over time he will be more comfortable and his behavior will change. The same happens with dogs.

It may seem like a far cry for a comparison to dog training; however it isn’t if you think of how often a dog’s behavior is a little suppressed when first in a new home. In fact owners of new pets are often lulled unwittingly into thinking “he’s such a calm good dog”. The reality is the first few weeks, you don’t know the dog you have, and he will change as he becomes more comfortable. It is a lot better to have been prepared in advance.

Another really important factor to think about is when there are other dogs in the home already. Some times it seems so simple to just let the old dog teach the new dog, but not if you think of it from the old dog’s perspective. He is most certainly used to having run of the house and unlimited access to his toys, favorite resting areas, and the owner’s attention. The last thing on your existing dog’s mind is making sure to remember to let the new one out to potty. Nor does he really care if the new one goes in the house, gets in the trash or chews your phone. Just putting them together and hoping it will all work out is not the best recipe for success.

There were multiple highly publicized and free adoption events over the recent Thanksgiving weekend. We received over a dozen calls from new pet owners wanting to start right away. Many of them actually decided that keeping their new rescue was too much work and took them back. Don’t make that mistake; it just isn’t fair to the dog. Bringing a new dog into your home is a life changing experience. I hope everyone gets to experience it. I got Marble ten years ago this month. He may not be everything I wanted, but I want everything he is.

I encourage you to offer your home to a dog, adopt one if possible and then bring him in with guidance. Show him how to behave and of course bring it to training at “I Said Sit!” School for Dogs right away.

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