NutriSource Blogs

Your Guide to Bringing Home and Caring for a New Dog

July 02, 2019

Before your new dog comes home, you’ll have a few things on your to-do list. There are practical matters, like setting the dog’s first vet appointment and having the needed supplies. And you’ll have to think about how to help your pet get used to the unfamiliar people, smells and surroundings.

While we often picture the new dog as a puppy, it’s pretty common for adult dogs to be rehomed as well. According to statistics cited by the ASPCA, 23% of pet parents get their dogs from an animal shelter or rescue, while for 20% a friend or relative was the source. Regardless, this is a big adjustment for both the humans and the dog. This guide will walk you through what to do before the dog comes home and how to get through those first few days and weeks.

How do you get ready for a new dog?

Anticipating the arrival of your new dog is an exciting time. Use this to-do list to get ready, so when the day comes, you can focus on welcoming your pet and keeping her comfortable.

Stock up on supplies

With the help of your independent pet retailer, you can get everything you need to welcome your pet to their new home. Having a handle on your dog’s breed, size and weight ahead of time can help you choose the appropriate gear and food.

  • Food: When dogs are adjusting to new humans and surroundings, tummy issues are common. That’s why you’ll want to give your newest family member a brand that’s familiar to them the first two weeks, at least. Then, you may switch to a high-quality premium diet.
  • Treats: Training with treat reinforcement should begin as soon as they get home, so keep a bag of low-calorie training treats on hand.
  • Bowls for water and food: Even if you already have a dog, separate dishes help your pets avoid competitive behavior, prevents the spread of germs and illness, and lets you keep better track of how much each dog is eating.
  • Leash, collar and ID tag: If your dog needs to improve their leash manners, many dog experts recommend working with a harness. It offers better control for you, while eliminating the rewarding behavior of leash pulling.
  • Toys: Having fun together is an excellent way for the two of you to bond.
  • Bed: Make sure it has a nice thick padding, and is easy to toss into the washing machine.
  • Crates: Two types of crates are essential for your dog. One for home and one for travel.

Prepare the dog’s “den”

Dogs have an instinct to den, to stake out a space of their own that makes them feel safe. Setting up a roomy crate is the easiest way, but some choose a small, dog-proofed room that’s gated off when pet parents are away. Be sure the crate is tall enough for standing and turning around.

Dog-proof your home

Canine curiosity can wreak havoc on your belongings and cause injury to your pet. Take a tour of your house through the eyes (and nose) of a dog and make any necessary safety adjustments. Shut away shoes in the closet. Place breakables on a higher shelf. Keep doors closed to off-limit rooms. Get a sealed container to store opened bags of kibble and treats. And spend some time with this helpful list from the ASPCA, detailing which plants in the house and garden are toxic or poisonous to dogs.

Schedule a vet appointment

Within a week of arrival, your newest family member should be seen for a checkup, to ensure your pet is healthy and on track with vaccinations. This is also a good time to have your pet microchipped for extra protection, and to discuss spaying and neutering, if needed. The frequency of wellness visits will vary with the age of your pet.

How long does it take a dog to adjust to a new home?

While the exact timeline depends on the pet’s breed and temperament, many canine experts say three months is the rule of thumb. The process of making your dog feel at home starts with a calm homecoming, and the work continues over the coming days and weeks. Here are a few guidelines.

Make a good entrance

While you’re eager to show your dog the new place, pause for a potty break before you walk in. With all this excitement and change, accidents are common, even for dogs with impeccable bathroom habits. When it’s time to go inside, keep the leash on and offer the dog a tour of the house, allowing her to sniff around.

Prepare for extra sleep

In the first few days, your new dog may sleep far more often than you expect, and this is completely normal. Keep their home crate open and padded with their old blanket and bed to keep it familiar and inviting. Make sure other family members, especially excited children, give your new pet the time she needs to get some R&R.

Build security with a routine

Dogs feel more secure when they know what to expect, and what’s expected of them. When it comes to feeding, walks, potty breaks, playtime, treats, crating and going to bed, you’ll want to establish the routine and stick to it closely. As much as possible, do these things at the same time, every day.

Minimize unusual and stressful situations

For the first few months, keep your dog away from major routine disruptions. If you can, let someone else host the big family barbecue, hold your daughter’s fifth birthday party at an alternative site or postpone your move or long vacation getaway.

How to deal with separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is a common issue for pet parents to work through. One study published by the American Veterinary Association found that 20% to 40% of dogs referred to an animal behaviorist ended up with this diagnosis. Moving into a new home with a new family can easily trigger separation anxiety in a dog. While you’re out, they may potty in the house or crate, chew up your sofa cushions, bark and howl excessively — or all the above. Helping your pet overcome the negative association with your departure takes time and patience.

Keep the first separations brief

In the first few days of living with your dog, establish a calm and positive routine before you leave for brief trips away from home. Whatever you do, don’t give in and prolong the goodbyes with coddling and petting, or you’ll create an unwanted reinforcement.

Create good vibes with a treat strategy

A treat puzzle is a great investment, because it will keep your dog focused on working their way to a treat instead of your exit. Ask your independent pet retailer to recommend one that suits your dog’s size and breed. Eventually, most dogs will associate goodbyes with a delicious reward to look forward to.

Watch the trends

If your dog’s state of anxiety is severe and ongoing, you may want to seek help from a professional, such as a board-certified veterinarian, an animal behaviorist or a certified dog trainer.

Over time, as your new dog gets used to life with you and your family, the classic signs of stress like shaking, pacing, drooling, yawning and hiding should start fading out. But if your dog is having ongoing tummy troubles, messy stools, excess itching and paw licking, the likely culprit is diet — not stress. Read up on the signs it’s time to change your dog’s diet, and how NutriSource Good 4 Life supplements packed in every bag can eliminate these symptoms.

A long happy life with your best friend

Now that you know how to prepare for life with your pet, keep them healthy from nose to tail with a premium diet. NutriSource uses only high-quality, nutritious meats, vegetables, grains and legumes, and none of the fillers that provide empty calories. Find an independent pet store in your community that carries NutriSource.