You did it! You did the homework, planning and preparation. It is finally time to bring home your new friend! Whether it be a temporary foster situation, or a permanent adoption, bringing a dog home is a huge adjustment. Will they fit into my routine? Will my family love them? Will they be happy here? Usually, the answer is yes, however, good things take time. Ensuring you’re keeping your dog’s best interest in mind during the beginning stages will set your dog up for success in both your home, and, if fostering, their future, forever home. Here are some great tips to help both you and your furry friend adjust to your new life together:
1. Puppy-Proof Your House
your dog may not immediately know the boundaries of your home. While it is important that you set them from the beginning, it is equally important that management steps are taken to prevent your dog from damaging your home, or endangering themselves. this may look like setting up baby gates, putting items in boxes, closets & cupboards, and restricting access to certain areas of your home. Additionally, keeping clothes put away and out of reach will prevent Fido from nievely chewing your new shirt. Toxic chemicals and choking hazards should also be kept out of reach of your pup.
2. Set Expectations, Structure, and Boundaries
A wise man once said “how rude would it be if a stranger was invited into your home, and they ate all your food, slept in your bed, and ran rampantly through your whole house. That’s exactly what we allow when we bring a new dog home without setting any sort of expectation.” Your dog has never met you, or been to your home. While you should act out of love and compassion for your new friend, it is important that you don’t allow your pet’s perceived emotional need for over-indulgence get in the way of living your life.
The reality is, dogs thrive under structure because they are put in a situation where they will learn safety, trust, and respect. Additionally, they will learn how to live a life that is conducive to what you hoped to gain from owning a dog. Canines are very loyal and adjustable animals. With few exceptions, they will learn how to accommodate your lifestyle, and be happy to do so. After-all, living a life with you, where they may be expected to stay out of the kitchen, or sleep in a kennel, is SO much better than the shelter life they were living before they knew you.
When we provide dogs with unlimited freedom from day one, we are telling the dog that they are responsible for their own boundaries, and ultimately, their safety. This can make a dog feel very vulnerable and insecure. Contrary to popular belief, dogs don’t want to be pack leaders. They seek comfort, resources, and guidance from someone they trust more than themselves. Allow your dog to find that in you. They deserve it.
What does structure look like? Frequent kennel breaks, impulse control, hand feeding, leash manners, and controlled play, are all things that provide a dog with a sense of security and safety. Every action you make with your dog, whether good or bad, is going to teach them something. Make it count.
3. Find Your Patience, Empathy, and Compassion
Your dog will make mistakes at first. They will not be perfect. There will be times when you question the entire thing. Your dog is probably learning even more than you are through this entire journey. Your dog has been displaced, uprooted, and transplanted into somebody else’s life. They need time to decompress, settle in, and ultimately navigate their way through this strange experience. It’s okay to give your dog grace as they learn the right ways.
Ultimately, we hope you enjoy your new friend for as long as they are in your life. Whether you have them for a day, a week, or forever, you have made an life long impact on their perception of the world around them.