The first few days in a new home can be very difficult for your new pet. They don’t know you very well yet and they can easily become stressed while they get to know your home, your family and your routines. Remember, many of our animals have spent weeks and sometimes months in kennels and it will take them a few days to realise they’ve “fallen on their feet”.

Settling in and routine
Try to ensure your daily routine is as normal as possible from day one. If you make exceptions, you can create a problem that will be difficult to resolve later on. Remember dogs thrive on daily routine. The first few weeks for a dog in the new home is commonly described as the “honeymoon period”. This is because the dog is settling in, learning new routines and appreciating the security of a new home. After this time some dogs will start to challenge your rules and routines – pester for attention or challenge you over food or toys. This is where sticking to the same rules will show its benefits.

Try to decide the dog’s rules (e.g. allowed on furniture, upstairs etc) in your household before he comes home with you. It’s very important that all members of the family stick to these rules or the dog simply gets confused and doesn’t know how to behave. If your dog does insist on getting onto furniture and refuses to come down when told to, do not pull him off by his collar as this confrontation can cause a dog to snap. Instead use a long leash attached to its collar, so that you can pull him off and that way teach him that his behaviour is not acceptable.

Avoid changing your dog’s diet from the one he’s been used to at the Centre for several days after getting him home. Dogs sometimes get diarrhoea from stress and the change to a new home is stressful enough for your new pet, without adding in the complication of a new diet. Make the change gradually. If your dog does get diarrhoea do not feed him for 24 hours and then feed him a light diet of chicken and rice until his stomach has settled. If diarrhoea continues for more than 24 hours, please consult a veterinary surgeon for advice.

Expect your new dog to have a small appetite whilst settling in. Don’t fall into the trap of offering him special foods to tempt him if he won’t eat initially or you’ll end up with a dog who’ll only eat tasty human food!

To avoid problems with house training, ensure that you take your new dog out frequently and remember to offer praise when he has relieved himself. Occasionally your dog may have an accident when left alone. Do not scold him unless you catch him doing it in front of you, as he will not associate telling off with the mess made perhaps several hours earlier. Scolding him ‘after the fact’ could create a nervous and confused dog. If your new dog has more severe problems with house training, please consult Southridge animal centre for advice.

If you have another dog in the home, expect that the two dogs will need time to get used to each other. They will need their individual space and will need separate bed areas. Do not feed them next to each other, and likewise do not leave them with toys or chews that may cause “arguments”. If you have a cat in the home, it may be helpful if you initially keep a long leash on your new dog so that you can control any confrontation it may have with your cat. You may also find it helpful to section off an area of your home with a baby gate, so that the cat has an area where it can be left alone.

Avoid inviting friends and family to come visit in the first few days. Your dog will need time and space to become comfortable with you before meeting everyone else.

Some dogs need to get used to being left. Try to avoid a situation where your dog becomes so addicted to you that he doesn’t know what to do without you. Give affection and attention when you decide, not on demand. Occasionally shut doors between him and you as part of your daily routine and try not to allow constant contact when you are together. Practice trial separations and remember not to give him a great deal of attention when you leave. If you have serious problems with continuous separation anxiety, please call Southridge animal centre or an animal behaviourist for advice.

Enrol your new dog in a local training class as soon as it is possible. Do not let him off the lead in the local park until you’ve had a chance to practice “re-call” in secure areas. This can often take a few weeks. You must have a bond with your dog before you can expect him to return to you when called. Start immediately by practicing within the confinement of your own garden.

Always train through praise, not punishment.

We always recommend new dog owners attend training classes too, as this will teach them how to deal with unusual situations they might experience. Dog training is much more than just learning how to walk nicely on a lead. If you find that you have problems dealing with a certain pattern of behaviour, please seek professional help as soon as you can. Remember problems that are left eventually become even harder to resolve.

Southridge dog training…

Register your new dog with a veterinary practice as soon as possible and please consider taking out an insurance policy. Remember to check whether you were advised by the centre that the dog needed further vaccinations.