Getting a new dog is a very exciting time in your life, but the first few days and weeks after bringing them home can be stressful. Your furry companion will need time to get used to their new environment, find their way around, and figure out (from cues by you) what they are and aren’t allowed to do. They’ll also be unsure what to expect from their new human family and may be wary of everyone until they get to know you better. As their owner, you’ll have plenty of initial responsibilities too, and many of these will be integral to the health and happiness of your dog.
Fortunately, there are things that you can do that will make the adjustment period less of a bumpy ride. Here are our top tips for the first steps you should take after getting a new dog.
It’s important to build trust and rapport with your new dog slowly and at their pace, rather than forcing the relationship. This is especially true when it comes to them meeting other animals and humans living in your home. Gradual introductions work best, and where possible, you should arrange for your dog to meet any resident animals outside of the home and on neutral territory. Intervene immediately in the case of any signs of aggression. If you have any issues with their interactions even after several attempts, it may be best to speak to your vet and ask for a referral to a pet behavior specialist.
Just like children, animals thrive when they are in a routine. It also helps them to feel safer and more secure. Having a routine doesn’t just refer to when your new dog will be fed, walked, or when they will go to bed, but also includes the creation of firm boundaries that everyone in your house is consistent with. For example, having a rule that your dog is allowed on the sofa but isn’t allowed on any of the beds and enforcing that rule. Consistency is crucial as otherwise your dog will be confused and make mistakes that could result in them being scolded unfairly.
As soon as you get your new dog you should make an appointment with your vet for an initial visit. This will include a health and wellness check to ensure that you have received them in good condition and that they have no underlying illness that you need to be aware of. This visit and the subsequent assessments will also form a baseline against which future tests and exams can be compared. This enables your vet to carefully monitor the health and wellbeing of your dog all the time that they are with you. They’ll also be able to create a schedule of vaccinations and make recommendations for appropriate parasite preventatives.
Every dog is different, which means that exactly how long it will take for your new canine pal to adjust to your home and feel settled can vary. However, the majority of dogs will appear to be comfortable in a home and with a family after around three weeks. Don’t forget though that it will take them a little longer to get used to your usual routine – up to three months in fact. You can be doing everything perfectly right and it can still take your furry friend a good while to fully settle into a new home and family. This could be especially true if they came from a shelter or traumatic past. However, if you have any concerns, speak to your veterinarian.
For more tips on getting your new dog settled, or for any other pet advice, please speak to our experienced veterinary team at Circle of Life Animal Hospital in Tampa, Florida at (813) 850-0600 today.