Getting a new pup is always exciting, but it can also be stressful for both you and your new buddy. Pre-adoption dogs, for example, have had the same surroundings for most of their lives, whether it be someone's home or a shelter, so change can be unsettling for them.

Whether you are adopting a dog or taking in a puppy, that first introduction can significantly impact how quickly they adjust to their new life. Here is how you can make this transition as seamless as possible for your new friend. 

Dog House Training - How to Prepare Your Family for a new Dog

Meeting dogs correctly makes a huge difference! Encourage older family members to be ready for a bit of chaos and encourage younger family members to speak in a cheerful voice to make the pup feel welcome. Also, teach them to give your pet some space if they are showing signs of stress. In general, but especially in families with young kids, some sort of structure should be introduced when bringing a dog home. This means explaining to children that dogs are a little different from people and that they interpret love differently. For example, kids may go in for a hug immediately after seeing the new dog because this is their way of showing love, but experts advise against this.  A human hug can feel like a tackle or threat to a dog which could cause them to want to fight or even bite the child in an attempt to break free. 

Emphasize teaching kids not to disturb a sleeping dog. When dogs are woken up while sleeping, it can cause them to feel discomfort and can feel as if they are being ambushed. Even if your dog does not show outward signs of stress, they may harbor an inner fear of people who break their boundaries.

How to Prepare Your Home for a New Dog

Prepare your home by storing small and breakable items, especially if you are bringing home a puppy. Move choking hazards and items that are prone to falling into a safe place where your dog can’t access.

In addition, keep in mind that puppies often need to be potty trained so block off areas in your home that are difficult to clean, or invest in some high-quality scent-blocking sprays and cleaning supplies. It's also worth noting that even older dogs might try to mark their scent on your home.

How to Introduce New Dogs to Your Home

Now that your family and home are ready for the newest team member, it's time to introduce the doggo to your humble abode! Here are our tips on how to acclimate a dog to a new home. 

Remember when you moved into your home? For a while, your life was a little out of whack as you started to learn new habits and daily schedules that worked for you and your space. Believe it or not, dogs experience similar stress when placed in new situations. Therefore, familiarizing them with their new space can help relieve a lot of their anxieties. Here are some ways you can help them feel right at home.

1. Plan a Tour 

Take your dog on a tour around the home and show them where their food, water, crate or bed, and doggy doors are. Provide treats such as Open Farm's dehydrated dog treats as a reward for exploring, especially when they seem hesitant.

2. Stay positive 

Dogs can sense when you are stressed which can cause them to feel unsettled! They may react to this by marking their territory or chewing on items. Therefore, sticking with them and keeping your own emotions in check can help prevent future disasters. 

3. Provide Entertainment 

Placing toys and treats in areas where playing is allowed is a good way to help your dog understand what rooms are for fun and what rooms are for relaxing activities such as sleeping. If your dog was adopted or rescued and has a favorite toy, make sure it comes along with them to their new home. This can provide great comfort for adopted dogs. 

It can take around three weeks for most dogs to acclimate to their new home, so don’t stress or worry if they do not immediately take to their new space!

How to Introduce Dogs to Other Dogs or Pets

If you are adopting, ask your dog’s previous home if your buddy has had any experience with other animals. Some dogs may not mind other animals, and some may need training before they are ready to approach others. Having this knowledge before bringing your dog home can be very helpful, but sometimes you won’t truly know how your dog reacts to other pets until you take them home. 

If your dog is meeting another dog:

Make sure both dogs have sturdy leashes on them but that both owners are holding them gently. Holding leashes too tight and pulling on them can signal stress to your dog which can put them on edge.

After the leashes are good to go, have the pups cross paths naturally, preferably outside on a walk where you and a friend can stage a meet up. This allows for the dogs to react to each other outside where there is lots of room. If your dog reacts badly to the meeting, you may need to consult a trainer, but if not, let them sniff around and get to know the other dog. 

Watch closely for signs of distress or anger from either one of the dogs. If both parties look happy try taking them to a smaller area such as a backyard or living room, and let them off their leash. This gives them a chance to explore together! If they are hesitant, reward friendliness with treats.

If you dog is meeting any other pet:

In truth, when a dog is meeting any other pet, the introduction follows a similar pattern to when they are meeting another dog. There is, however, one exception if the other pet cannot meet naturally on a walk. For these situations let the pets meet at a distance to let your dog get used to the other animal’s smell. Keep your dog on a leash in case they lunge forward, then slowly start closing the gap between the furry friends. When meeting some pets like cats, dogs may get overly excited which can scare the cat away. Keeping your dog on a leash and encouraging them to stay put (with commands, if they are trained) can allow the other pet to make the first move. Remember once again to keep a close eye for signs of stress, and if both animals look ok, gradually let the two meet face-to-face if they feel comfortable doing so. 

Sometimes pets may need breaks from each other when playing for the first time. If they seem to be hyping each other's energy up or nearing aggression, separate them into different rooms and give them some time to cool off before trying again.

Like anything in life, change takes a bit of getting used to! When it comes to pets, these tips and tactics can really help you and your new buddy get accustomed to your new life. For other pet tips and information check out our other blog posts here!

Written By: Emily Balogh