Start with a few essential supplies and equipment.
Leash & Collar – The right collar and leash is essential. A breakaway collar is a good choice for everyday wear. This unsnaps easily if the collar gets caught on something so your dog doesn’t get choked. For walks, a buckle collar, no-pull harness, or head collar are good choices. The latter two are good choices for strong dogs that are pullers!
Microchip- Take time to get your dog micro-chipped. This gives you security that if your dog gets loose someone who picks your dog up and locate you to return the dog.
Food – Avoid upsetting the dog’s stomach if possible…as the dog might have bouts of diarrhea. Avoid this by feeding the same food provided by the foster home, rescue or shelter. You can mix the old with the new and gradually adjust your dog to a new diet. . Food & Water Dishes – Provide clean/fresh water for your dog at all times. Select a spot and leave the bowl in the same place so your dog knows exactly where to go for water.
Crate – Dogs, by nature, are den animals. They usually love the comfort and security of a crate if introduced properly. Crates make the adjustment period less stressful for you and your new furry friend. . The crate should be big enough for your dog to stand up, turn completely around and lie down comfortably in. However, if the crate is too big your dog may have accidents in it, so pay attention to crate dimensions and the dog weight/height it is recommended for. Toys – Providing safe toys during this adjustment period can be helpful in relieving stress. Always supervise your dog when playing with toys. Once a toy becomes damage then it should be thrown away. You can leave your dog alone with heavy duty toys like Kongs, but check for damage periodically to avoid choking hazards.
House and Yard Safety Check!
Make sure your home is a safe place for your new dog by putting yourself in his paws. Crawl around on the floor and check out any potential dangers. Electrical cords, poisonous houseplants, and any item small enough to swallow are just a few of the things that should be out of his reach. Even after proofing the house, it’s not wise to leave your dog unsupervised in the house until he has learned what is off limits. That way he won’t have the chance to develop any bad habits! If your dog destroys something that is valuable to you, it is your fault for making it available to him. Dogs have no concept of how much something costs, and they don’t chew things to spite you. They do it because it is fun. Dogs also chew to relieve stress, so a dog who normally doesn’t chew things may do so when under stress. Make available appropriate chew toys and keep items you don’t want chewed out of reach!
Children and Dogs
Children are very loud, excitable and unpredictable. They will be even more so with a new dog coming into the house. Prepare your children ahead of time so that they understand how to behave.
Allow children to meet the new dog BEFORE he/she comes home.
Have children meet the new dog while on a leash in the house. Have the children sit down to say hello. Sitting will help them be calmer which will help your dog be more relaxed.
Always supervise children with dogs, no matter how small the dog. This is for the safety of your dog and your child.
Teach your children how to treat dogs gently and compassionately. They should be told to never pinch, pull, or squeeze the dog. Children also need to be taught that dogs are not like humans….they generally do not like to be hugged or kissed although they often tolerate it from their owners. Show children alternative ways to give affection to their dogs through proper petting.
Teach your children that dogs, like people, often need a break from situations. Teach children how to recognize these signs and how to give the dog time to be away from people. Set up a “safe” place for your new pet that is off limits to children such as a crate. Children should not interact with the dog while in the crate.
Don’t let children feed your new dog until he is settled in nor should the dog be bothered while eating.
Children should not be allowed to take the dog’s toys, and don’t let your dog take the children’s toys.
Children should not walk the dog without adult supervision and then only if the dog is an easy-to-walk dog.
Let your pet(s) meet the new dog BEFORE entering the home, if possible. Pack walks are excellent ways to accomplish an early bond (one handler per dog please). No on-leash greetings will occur between dogs during this walk. Start with a leash a 6 foot spacing between dogs with handlers in-between. As the walk progresses you can close that gap if the dogs are not showing any reaction to each other. End the walk on a good note –still no interaction.
When the new dog does come home take both dogs on leash in the back yard (one handler per dog please).Walk around the yard keeping space between dogs while slowly closely the gap. If no reaction is seen then have both handlers slowly drop the leashes, but continue to walk. The dogs may initially continue to follow the handler, but once they realize the leash are dropped they may either explore the yard or introduce themselves. Watch for signs that either pet is stressed, and separate if necessary. Do not try to push them to be friends too fast. Slower is better!
Don’t change the routine for the resident pet.
Crate the new dog periodically to give your resident pet a break, especially if he seems stressed or annoyed with the new dog. Your new dog may spend a lot of time crated in the first week or two, but a slow introduction is better in the long run for everyone. However, the new dog should be crated in another room and not in front of the other pet.
Spend time individually with the new dog and the resident pet.
Supervise playing with toys to prevent dog arguments over the toys. Providing one more toy than there are dogs is a good practice. This way, if one dog gets tired of a toy, there is an option other than stealing from the other dog. Wait a couple of weeks before giving them something of high value such as a stuffed bone or rawhide.
Enforce rules with the new dog from the beginning. Dogs thrive on rules and consistency. Use the Learn to Earn philosophy. The dog has to be complaint and perform some required action to get anything he/she wants. And remember, it can take 30-50 or more perfect repetitions before a dog truly “gets” a command.
Coming into a new home can be stressful for dogs. House-training may regress. Some dogs may take time to trust you. Some dogs may take up to three months to settle in. Just be patient with him and show him in all of your actions that he is safe with you. If you are having any problems or have any questions during the adjustment period contact the rescue, breeder, or shelter from which you adopted or contact a reputable dog trainer.