Checklist to help introduce an adult dog or puppy to your family and home

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018 Bringing Your New Puppy or Dog Home Comments
Family Dog

When introducing an adult dog or puppy to your family and home here are things to consider:

  • Make sure he has been fully vaccinated and cleared medically.  A dog who is sick, injured, or has heart worm disease (or is being treated for the condition) may act inappropriately or uncharacteristically
  • When you put the dog into your car, make sure you have a state-approved restraint such as a harness that is tethered to the seat belt, a crate or other protective safety restraint
  • Remember on your drive home that this dog may be susceptible to getting car sick.  Dogs may get anxious or uncomfortable with sharp turns or quick stops and starts.  Be sure to have something ready to clean up any messes
  • When you bring your dog out of the car, try to teach him from the beginning not to jump out until he is invited.
  • Let your dog walk around for a few moments outside the car and perhaps, “shake off”, which shows that he is decompressing
  • Take the dog for a five to ten minute walk to allow him to relieve himself, and to begin to see you as his guardian and protector.  Be very calm and gentle, with respect for his personal space
  • Stop several times and allow the dog to relieve itself. Then shorten the leash again and continue on
  • If it is very late at night, you might consider simply walking the dog in your backyard
  • Do not allow the dog to pull in front and be physically ahead of you. You should be walking shoulder to shoulder.
  • If you have a yard, fenced or unfenced, walk the dog along its perimeter making sure that you are beside or slightly ahead of the dog.  This teaches him that it is your yard and your neighborhood; this will enable you to be seen by the dog as his guardian and protector.  Refer to PDF (on proper method of walking your dog)
  • Once you have walked around the perimeter of the outside of your home and yard, now it is time to enter your domain. Make sure to walk into your home first and allow the dog to follow you inside. (If you have other dogs or pets, refer to introducing your dogs page on the website)
  • When you walk into your home make sure that you go in first, so that the dog starts to learn from the very beginning that you own the house and everything in it.  This will greatly reduce the chance of the dog protecting what it considers its own.  Dogs typically do not try to protect what they consider to be community property or owned by someone else
  • Calmly but confidently walk the dog behind you through each room of your house, leading him as you would lead a toddler through a crowd.  This teaches the dog that you own the home and this activity will help reduce the chance of them  marking the furniture or claiming territoriality
  • Then have each family member walk the dog on the leash through the house.  Do this with young children as well, even if you have to carry them while leading the dog.  Teach your dog that each human is above him or her; even the youngest member of the family is above him.  Do this with love and not anger. Walk through the home with  attitude but not an attitude.  Dogs, like people, will be attracted to a confident parent or leader. They will have more respect for both humans and animals.
  • Teach your dog from the very beginning, in a very loving manner, that he owns nothing so he has no responsibility to protect anything
  • Have family sit calmly on a sofa and allow the dog to come to each of them
  • Do not place a hand over or on top of the dog, which can be seen as an aggressive movement by the new dog
  • Supervise children around the new dog, and limit their handling and interaction for at least two weeks
  • Once the dog has seen your house, take him to the door through which you will typically be letting him out, so that he knows that will be the door through which he will take potty breaks.  Simply opening it a few times for him should suffice
  • Allow the dog to take a drink of water and show the dog where his bed or place will be
  • It is best not to allow the dog onto furniture at least for the first few days or weeks if you are planning to grant him that privilege.  The dog should learn that he must ask permission to be on the furniture or any other desire, otherwise he will feel entitled to everything.
  • Don’t feed your new dog a full meal for his first meal, since he may be anxious and his belly may not be ready for a full serving of food. Again, he may seem calm and happy, but nonetheless, he is still in a new place with unfamiliar people and surroundings
  • The next morning you may feed him normally as directed. Make sure that you are feeding your dog a top-quality food such as those recommended in our section
  • If your dog does not eat his entire meal at one time and walks away from his bowl, then pick the bowl up.  Leaving the bowl down can send messages to your dog that he is allowed to eat whenever he wants, and in nature, this translates to his feeling like he is in charge.  Remember, “Things mean Things”.™
  • Make sure to ask the rescue or shelter if the dog has had any resource-guarding issues and contact our 1-855-HI-WYATT hotline prior to bringing your dog home or as soon as possible to deal with those issues
  • Limit activity for the first couple of days so that the dog can have time to bond with your family; you can gain his trust and he can feel safe and secure in his new home
  • Refrain from dragging your new dog to every sporting event or family get-together at first until you know how he will react in the new situation
  • Worry first about helping the dog to adjust to your family and helping your family to adjust to the dog. You have a whole lifetime to show off your new dog, so just work on building a strong bond and friendship first
  • Think more of yourself as the mother or father rather than being some evasive and stereotyped leader or commander.  Think of your dog as needing to understand the rules of the house and who is in charge much like you would teach your kids that the teacher at school and the principal are in charge.  You don’t want your kids to fear their teacher but rather to respect and to follow that calm and confident energy of the teacher.  This is the same for your new dog!
  • Ensure that the dog understands what you expect of her right from the beginning.  Of that time, perhaps the most critical is the first two weeks. And of course that first two weeks is the time most people are oogling and coddling the dog even when the dog is jumping, nipping or blocking.  If you don’t give some clarity to the dog, which means that you are showing him what you want and how you want it done, then the dog may be confused.  Confused dogs typically do not have confidence but rather they behave out of either fear or dominance.  We want for your new dog to have confidence that he is being provided for and protected by you and your family
  • Please do not try to bring out protective instincts at this time or for the first several months.
  • Some are concerned that if dogs are trained and do not “guard the house” than the dog will not protect their family in the event of a break-in or threat by a stranger.  The chances of your being victims of a break and are much less than the reality of your dog becoming aggressive with a child or adult visitor in your home or a skateboarder or cyclist in your neighborhood.
  • If you believe that your dog may be exhibiting signs of behavioral issues
  • Think like a dog!™ Teach him from the beginning that he a member of the family, but he is not the leader or in charge.   This will eliminate his desire to challenge you or exhibit dominant behavior.

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