Dogs are driven to be part of a pack. In the wild, that pack is of the four-legged, furry variety. But domesticated pets often find themselves serving as part of a human pack, with you, your children, your spouse, or whoever else lives in your home filling all those roles.
If you’re adopting a pet, you’re adding that animal to your pack, whether that pack is composed of people, pets, or a combination of both. Simply bringing the pet into your home can make things tougher for both the new dog and your pack. Instead, there are some steps you should take to ensure the transition is as smooth and comfortable as possible.
Introducing the new dog can start before he even enters the home. Bring something into your house that has the adopted dog’s scent on it, whether it’s just a towel or blanket you rub on the pet or an actual belonging from that dog’s current environment. You should also ensure any pets in your home are updated on their vaccinations to ensure the dog is coming into a safe environment.
When a new animal is brought into your household, your existing pets’ protective instincts may kick in. For that reason, it’s often best to introduce pets to the new dog on neutral territory. If possible, take them on a walk together or introduce them offsite at a location like a dog park. You can then get a feel for how well the dogs get along, while also getting that initial introduction out of the way. Then when you bring the new dog into your home, he’ll be a familiar sight.
What about the human members of your pack? Avoid bringing your new dog into your home when you have a lot of non-household members milling about. Instead, give your new family member time to get to know immediate family members, then gradually bring other people around later. If you have strangers over while your pet is adjusting, keep him in his kennel in a quiet area of the house during the gathering.
If you’re bringing a new dog home, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared to provide a safe, comfortable environment. I have plenty of tips for training and caring for a new dog on my blog. Check out my posts to make sure you’re prepared to welcome your newest pack member.