Bringing a new dog into your home needs planning and patience
Published on Mon, 06/16/2014 - 12:04pm
When you live in the country, you need a dog. Dogs announce and greet your guests, (or keep salesmen in their cars), provide companionship, and can do useful work by herding. Basically, dogs are your best friends when neighbors live some distance away.
Whether you prefer a purebred for hunting or a friendly rescue-dog, bringing a new canine into your home requires some care to get it right.
The Humane Society of the United States offers some solid tips and reminders to integrate your newest family member with your existing family—be they human or four-legged.
Preparing for your pup
Bringing a young dog or an older one into your home requires some advanced planning, perhaps even before you start your search. Many dogs—even working dogs—spend at least part of the time inside the house, so you will want to plan on housetraining. In addition to agreeing on which family members will do what with the new dog and when, having a routine down in advance will pay dividends when it comes to feeding and housetraining time.
Don’t forget to get a collar, leash and—very important—your dog’s own food and water bowl before bringing her home.
Do you have other dogs or cats? Now is the time to have existing pets brought up to date on their vaccinations. Even though shelters are usually diligent about the health of their charges, viruses can sometimes follow you home.
Many owners will actually delay bringing the new dog home, preferring instead to go directly to the veterinarian for a health check. At that time, make an appointment to have your new dog spayed or neutered if needed.
Home is where the crate is
When your dog comes home, it is best to establish the ground rules right away—since dogs need order, let them know who’s in charge. Greet family members first, then move to any other household pets. Watch for any aggressive behavior on the part of your new dog but understand: They’re probably a little freaked out at all the changes.
The ASPCA offers this advice to bringing a new dog to an existing dog:
• Leave your current dog at home when you pick up your new dog.
• Introduce your dogs on neutral territory, like on a short walk through your neighborhood, in a nearby park, or in a friend’s yard. Have two people, one to handle each dog, while keeping the dogs on leashes.
• To minimize tension, try to keep the dogs’ leashes loose so that they’re not choking or feeling pressure on their throats.
• Don’t force any interaction between the dogs. Give both dogs time to get comfortable. They’ll interact when they’re ready.
Give your dog a crate, even though it may look to you like a canine jail cell. To your dog, though, it’s a protective den, a room of his own. Crate-training your new dog will also make housetraining and obedience-training easier. Your dog’s crate should be roomy enough to allow your dog to stand up, turn around, and sit comfortably in normal posture. Just be certain to limit “crate time” to a few hours during the day, or he may begin to consider it a jail cell.
You’re the boss, so with a calm but authoritative manner, let your new dog know what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t. Reward positive behavior with treats, by voice, and by touch—and don’t forget existing pets, either. The Humane Society offers many tips on dog training using positive reinforcement, but the key is consistency combined with patience.
Being reasonable with your expectations will make the first three or four weeks of homecoming with your new dog a positive experience. Before long, your new friend will be greeting you with love and enthusiasm each time you come home.
Shelter adoption vs. buying purebred
At AcreageLife, we encourage anyone looking for a new dog or puppy to first visit local shelters—there are plenty of worthy animals to choose from. The ASPCA reports that approximately 3.9 million dogs enter shelters every year, with 1.2 million of them euthanized.
According to the American Humane Association, the most common reasons why people relinquish their dogs is because their place of residence does not allow pets (29 percent), not enough time, divorce or death, and behavior issues (10 percent each). The remainder are strays or simply unwanted.
Purebred dogs offer the assurance that you can get the exact “type” of dog you want, but be careful. If possible, choose pups from reputable breeders, staying clear of puppy mills. Get referrals from other dog owners, and always visit their facilities.
Not only will you likely pay less when adopting a shelter dog, you will also save a life.