Congratulations on your new family member! Bringing a new dog home is exciting, and the first few days can sometimes be overwhelming. It’s normal to feel regret or frustration. Be patient with yourself and your new pup – even confident dogs need a little support when confronted with change.
Your new pup doesn’t realize they’ve just been upgraded to a great new life – everything is new, likely confusing, and could feel scary. Just like humans, dogs are individuals who each tolerate stress differently. Some dogs quickly transition to new environments, while others need patience and support.
Here are some things that can be stressful to your dog:
Your pup may not have ever been in a car before
All the sights, smells, and sounds in and around your home are new
Lots of unfamiliar people wanting to greet them
Not knowing where to relieve themselves
Here are some behaviors you may see during your first few days with your new pup:
House training accidents
Inability to settle down (pacing, panting, whining)
Drinking a lot of water
Eating very little or not at all
Barking at noises or movement outside your home
Lack of interest in interacting with people, other animals, or toys
Jumping up on counters, beds, or couches
Following you from room to room/not wanting to be left alone
Tips for a Successful Transition
Having the right setup is key to a smooth transition from shelter to your home. Here are some tips:
- Try not to leave your new pup home alone for the first 48 hours.
- Create a safe space by offering a covered crate with comfortable bedding in a quiet, low-traffic area, such as a bedroom or quiet corner of the living room. This area will give your new dog a place where they can choose to retreat to and watch the action from afar, which can help them feel safe.
- Help your pup learn to use the bathroom outside by offering frequent opportunities and rewarding them with a tasty treat when they get it right.
- Use baby gates to close off areas of the home to which you don’t want your pup to have access or to give your dog personal space if they are overwhelmed by visitors.
- Pick up rugs or any items you don’t want your new pup chewing on or having an accident on.
- Make sure to have plenty of healthy chews and puzzle toys – prepare some ahead of time and put them in the freezer, so they are ready to go when you need to give your new pup something to do.
- Put jars of treats in strategic areas of your home so you can reward good behaviors every time you see them. Treats can also be used to “trade” if your new dog grabs something they are not supposed to.
Tips for Building Trust
Dogs, especially shyer dogs, learn to trust their new human friends when they can predict how the person is going to behave. They will avoid new, “unpredictable” people. Predictability helps dogs to settle in, whether it be building a routine or how we behave towards them.
Here are some tips for building a positive, trusting relationship with your new dog:
- Start building a routine by offering meals, walks, and play at similar times each day.
- For walks, start out with walking routes that you plan on taking daily. Allow your new dog plenty of time to sniff on walks so they can get to know their new neighborhood.
- Take plenty of tasty treats on every walk and reward your dog for desired behaviors such as checking in with you, eliminating outside, or walking with a loose leash.
- Wait to have family and friends meet the dog or visit your home until you have built a bond. Unfamiliar people wanting to say hello is often overwhelming for a newly adopted dog.
- Pay close attention to your dog’s body language. How we move and speak to our dogs can impact their stress levels. Familiarizing yourself with canine body language, especially signs of fear, anxiety, and stress will allow you to support your dog
- Be your dog’s advocate when they are scared or nervous. For example, if you notice they seem hesitant or stressed when another dog walks past, the next time a dog walks toward you, try crossing the street and feeding your pup yummy treats.
- If your new dog gets overexcited when the leash comes out and can’t stop jumping on you, calmly scatter some tasty treats on the ground and leash them up while they are eating.
- If you have another dog in your home, keep the dogs separate during mealtimes and supervise when they have access to toys or chews.
- Wait on nail clippings or baths, as these may be unpleasant or frightening for your new dog.
For dogs that are barking and having a hard time settling down:
- Try minimizing access to the things that are causing them stress. If it’s noises, play some relaxing music, turn on the TV, or use a white noise app on your phone.
- If your pup is barking out the windows, place a shade, temporarily cover the window, or don’t allow the dog in that room.
- Take a deep breath and wait it out. Sometimes time is the best remedy. These behaviors should dissipate after several days of routine.
Canine DIY Enrichment
The key to a happy and healthy dog is regular enrichment and allowing them to engage in their normal behaviors, such as playing, chasing, smelling, chewing, and scavenging. Allowing your dog to engage in these behaviors, satisfies them physically, emotionally, and mentally. Dogs who don’t receive stimulation tend to find ways to enrich themselves, resulting in unwanted behaviors.
Ask For Help!
If you need support, contact us at 321-636-3343 ext. 201.
We understand taking a pet home can come with unexpected challenges, and we are here to support you. If you feel like you need more in-depth guidance, we suggest seeking out the support of a certified professional