Ways to Comfort/Integrate an Adopted Dog into His New Home
Congratulations! You have just decided to select an adopted dog as your brand new furry family member! There are a number of things to do before taking your dog home (new tags, registration, etc.), but you also have to prepare to comfort and integrate your adopted dog into his new home! Although bringing your dog home is a time of excitement, you need to ensure that he is comforted and will make the transition easily. The adoption process is a stressful time for a dog:
- meeting lots of people waiting to be adopted,
- starting to get used to your scent from visits,
- being removed from the familiarity of the adoption centre,
- and going to a new home with lots of different sights and smells.
Make the transition easier these 6 ways:
Leave a Blanket or Sweater with Him
When you finally decide to adopt a dog, assist with easing him into your home by leaving a sweater or blanket behind. You will most likely not be able to take your dog home right away (things need to be prepared and forms need to be signed). Instead, leave one of your clothing items that has your scent on it at the adoption centre. The staff can place this item into the kennel with your new adopted dog. This will help your dog get used to your smell and allow him time to familiarize himself with the scent.
Although this is a very exciting moment, one of the best ways to comfort your dog into their new home is to stay calm. Do not get overly excited (high-pitched voices or lots of sudden movement) and instead limit your excitement while your dog enters the house. Your dog is going to be overwhelmed and any excess energy through sound or movement can cause increased anxiety. While your dog is adapting to this new space, less commands and words directed at the dog is best. This will limit the stimulation and let her focus on the new experience without the added stress of obeying commands.
Let Your Dog Explore the House
Let your new adopted dog wander around at his own leisure and investigate your home. Allowing your dog to explore on his own will help him feel comfortable in each room. Your dog will probably be shy at first, but if you reassure him, he will become more confident to look around. Go with your dog to each room and let him truly get a feel (and smell) of the space. If your adopted dog is already good with a leash, having it on while he roams around may give him extra comfort.
Show Your Dog Her Spots
After your dog has taken the time to do the tour with the freedom to explore, show your dog her specific areas. Show her where she will eat, where she will go outside to pee, and where she will sleep. You can even begin using limited vocabulary to identify each spot (“bed,” “outside,” etc.). For each area, show your dog what she is supposed to focus on. In the bedroom, touch the bed and encourage her to come over and check it out. For the feeding area, have a few pieces of food in the dish and a water bowl ready. As simple as it is, doing this together will help your dog understand the role of each spot!
BONUS TIP: Because the home is unfamiliar, your pup will probably have a few accidents (yes, even old adopted dogs!). It will take time for your dog to understand what is required to indicate she has to go outside. To save your carpets (as much as you can), make frequent trips outside! Use the command you have decided upon for your dog to “go to the bathroom.” If she does relieve herself in the desired spot, reward and praise her! The more she understands that peeing outside is good, the less she will pee on your carpets!
Reward Your Dog
Just as it is with puppies, training begins right away with adopted dogs too! When your new dog exhibits good behaviour (ex: whining at the back door to go outside), reward him! If your dog performs an unwanted behaviour try to use positive reinforcement instead of discipline. For example, if he chews the couch, simply lead him away or distract him with a toy (rewarding for chewing the toy instead). Your dog is still getting used to the new home, so the less “negative experiences” had, the easier it will be for him to feel comforted.
Begin Your Routine (Calmly)
You can spend time with your dog, but it is beneficial to let her get used to life in her new home. If you have to get dinner started, go and do that (keeping an eye on her). Your dog will need to start seeing you go about your day normally so she can adjust to it. Ensure your dog is comfortable or has a toy to play with, checking in on her every so often as you complete your daily tasks. That being said, it is always a good idea to comfort, pet, and reassure your dog on the first few days in the home. There is no need to coddle her, but let her know that everything is okay. By doing this you let your dog know that she will be comforted and loved in her new family.
Use these various methods to comfort your dog and fully integrate him into your home. It will be an adjustment, but if you reassure him and give him time to get used to the new space, his anxiety and stress will decrease. Before you know it, it will be business as usual with a confident and playful pup by your side!