Before Your Pet Comes Home

The first preparation you need to do is setting expectations both for yourself and your dog. You are doing a wonderful thing by giving a dog a home and, in return, you are getting unconditional love, the most loyal friend and more than a few laughs for the rest of your dog’s life.

Enter into this new chapter knowing that there will be an adjustment period while your dog learns what it means to be part of your family. Change is difficult for anyone and your dog will need time and patience before she realises that she has found a forever home. Some dogs may engage in stress related behaviours such as hiding, escaping, barking and it’s likely she will need a refresher course in toilet training.

All of this is normal and best handled by remaining calm, rewarding good behaviour and showing your dog what is expected behaviour in her new home. This means learning to communicate clearly with her by using clear consistent commands.

The absolute basics that your dog needs are:

  • Good nutrition including constant access to clean water
  • Daily exercise
  • A frequently-cleaned toilet area
  • Time every day to be with her human family.

Make sure you have all of your supplies:

  • Dog Bed
  • Crate (if using one – the door should always be open)
  • A few weeks supply of pet food
  • Food bowls
  • Toys

If you are changing your new dog’s diet, do so over a week, gradually replacing a portion of her food each time. It’s vital in our hot climate that she has access to clean water all day.

Dog Zones, Boundaries, Rules and Puppy Proofing!

Decide where your new buddy is going to sleep and set up her bed. If you are crate training, make sure there is a comfortable bed or towels inside it and leave the door of the crate open.

Think about what your rules for her will be. Is she allowed on the sofa? On your bed? Is she allowed to jump up on people when greeting them? Is she allowed to “beg” at the table or would you prefer that she waits in her bed while your family eats at the table? If you are getting a puppy, make your rules for the dog that she will grow to be.

Your bundle of fluff spends lots of time sleeping and hardly takes up space, but, do you want her there when she is 15kg? There is no right or wrong answer but decide now for the long term.

If you have someone sharing your bed, one thing we highly recommend if you do allow your dog in your bed, is to only allow her up there when invited. It can be as simple as patting your bed but she will understand that it is a privilege. You will find it handy in the future if you need her to stay off the bed for any reason.

Consistency does not mean inflexibility and don’t feel that you have to keep doing something that clearly isn’t working with your particular dog. Perhaps you started off with a rambunctious adolescent dog and now that she has matured into a calm adult, you don’t mind her snoozing under the dining table at dinner. Relationships change over time and so will yours with your pet.

We recommend not giving her access to the entire house right away. The bigger the space, the more overwhelming it will be for your dog. It’s also a good idea to be able to keep an eye on her the first few days so she doesn’t disappear unnoticed into your bedroom to chew up your favourite shoes or wee in some unseen corner. It can be difficult with open plan homes but perhaps you have a kitchen and lounge area that you spend time in and can puppy proof.

Any electrical cords within your dog’s reach should be taped to the wall, remove anything breakable from lower shelves and make sure household chemicals and cleaning products are out of reach.

Will enthusiastic tail wagging sweep your favourite vase off the coffee table?
Put it up on a high shelf.

Decide on her training words and make sure your family or partner use the same words for the same behaviours.

For example: “Down” means lying down on the floor, it doesn’t mean don’t jump on people and it doesn’t mean get off the couch.

A sample vocabulary might be:

  • DOWN: lie down on the floor,
  • OFF: don’t jump on people, don’t jump on furniture,
  • SIT: bum on the floor,
  • COME: stop what you’re doing and run to mum or dad,
  • GO TO YOUR BED: Go to your bed or crate; we love this one for when we are eating to prevent begging at the table.

Obviously use any language you wish but be consistent.

Introducing your dog to her new home

When your dog first arrives at your house, take her immediately to her toileting area and spend some time with her until she pees and praise her when she does. If she seems to be hyperactive, a walk around your neighbourhood will tire her out with all the exciting new sights and smells. If she’s the quiet type, it will be enough stimulation getting used to her new home.

Once she’s taken inside, let her explore your dog-proofed area and sit back and observe. Most of our dogs have spent time in loving foster homes but if your pup is recently rescued from the street, a shelter or perhaps the veterinary clinic, she may not have experience with sights and sounds that we take for granted. Stairs, televisions, toilets flushing or washing machines can take some getting used to and everyday objects such as brooms may seem threatening at first.

We recommend  giving her restricted access to the entire house right away. The bigger the space, the more overwhelming it will be for your dog.

Keep the first few days low key and uneventful. Don’t invite all your friends over to see your adorable new dog- that’s what Facebook is for:-) Establish a routine. Dogs feel secure when they know what to expect. Begin your regular schedule of taking walks, feeding, sleeping.

Remember to take her out regularly to her toilet area. This is especially important with puppies. Pop them outside immediately after eating or drinking or when they first wake up. Praise them for their fabulous efforts. That little smile and tail wag is worth it!

The first few days may be stressful for your dog and she may need to curl up in her crate, processing all the big changes. Let her have her quiet time and go about your day. She will find comfort as she learns that she can trust you to feed her twice a day, give her walks and affection.

Have fun building your relationship and teaching her what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour in her new family. Be calm and consistent and don’t allow certain behaviours because you feel sorry for her sad past. Set her up for success in her bright future by making the rules easy to understand.