What to do when you first adopt a dog or puppy
Updated: May 17
Congratulations on adopting or adding a new dog to your life. Adding a new dog or puppy is exciting but can quickly turn to frustrating or exhausting when we don't realize how to fulfill our new dog and welcome them into our home.
The first thing owners must understand is that dogs do not learn, think or perceive the same way humans do. This goes for "rescue" dogs as well. They do not feel sorry for one another, they do not require lots of "love" ( via touch, baby-talk, affection, treats, play), they live in the moment and they are constantly looking for a leader and someone to guide them.
It also can take up to 3 months for dogs to get used to their new environment, new patterns and for them to get comfortable, so please give your new puppy dog the time and patience it needs to be successful.
Many rescues have to paint the narrative for the dogs up for adoption as very emotional, heartbreaking stories in order to entice potential adopters to adopt. I completely understand why rescues do this, because many times, when people adopt, it is based on emotion and not on logic. Unfortunately, this sets the tone for the relationship between adopter and dog moving forward based on emotion, feeling sad for the dog and therefore, not providing the proper guidance and boundaries.
Whether you got your dog from a friend, craigslist (please don't) or anywhere else, all of these rules apply.
What you SHOULD do when you get your new pup home:
*All of this should be done with MINIMAL TALKING-Your dog should not be baby-talked through this process and you should not be getting your dog excited about their new environment*
1. Make them wait calmly before exiting your car
2. Take them for a long long long structured walk (where they are not pulling you everywhere, sniffing, zig zagging, fixating, going wherever they want, etc)
3. On leash, guide them through your home allowing them to smell and then put them in their crate or on their dog bed and allow them to relax
4. Create a routine based on invitation versus expectation where YOU are in control of all your dogs decisions, including where to go inside and outside, what state of mind they are in and how the greet people, objects and other animals
5. Reward only a calm state of mind by only allowing them to exit the crate when calm, fed when calm, allowed outside when calm, leashed when calm, petted when calm, and so on
6. Allow them to smell new people, animals environments while not exciting them by saying things such as "Oh what is that buddy?!", "Do you want to go see that?", "What do you think boy??"
7. Walk them everyday for at least 1 hour
8. Crate them!!!!
What you should NOT do when you get your new pup home:
1. Give it tons of unearned affection, especially the first few weeks as they're getting more comfortable and learning who you are and what your relationship will be
2. Allow new people to come up and pet them inside or outside. Dogs do not understand why strange people are constantly trying to "say hi" to them. Dogs greet via scent and scent only. They do NOT need to "say hi' by being pet
3. Give the freedom to free roam the house, especially when you're not home
4. Taking them to off leash area's with unknown dogs or having them greet random dogs on leash aka PLEASE NO DOG PARKS see https://www.packleaderhelp.com/post/just-so-no-to-the-dog-park
5. Take them to a party or have a lot new people come up to pet/touch them
6. Use your backyard, a dog park, fetch or daycare to exercise your dog (this is play, not exercise)
7. Feel bad for creating a structured environment with clear rules
8. Let them free roam the house/apartment
I recommend heading to my training tools page to find out how to use effective and safe leashes and leads. There are links to the item as well as video tutorials on how to use the tools.
I wish you the best with your new dog and if you have any questions on how to choose the right dog for you or how to help your new puppy or dog please don't hesitate to reach out!
Owner & Dog Behaviorist