Settling Into A New Home
Congratulations on acquiring a new puppy or adult dog! How do you help a new dog settle in? Laurel Saville, UW-AAB of Rag Tag Dog Training in Vashon, WA has both experience and know how. Here are her 3 E-z ways to help a new dog settle in.
“After years of volunteer work with rescues and shelters, as well as training with plenty of rescue dogs, the biggest single mistake I see is new owners going too fast with the new dog. It’s natural, we’re excited to engage and show off our new family member. But no matter what their background, we need to give our new dogs months — not days or weeks — to settle in and to figure out the new lay of their land.”
3 Simple things To Build The Bond
1. Feed by hand
Say the dog’s name and immediately, without waiting for any response, stuff some yummy kibble or treats in her face. You want to create a conditioned response to that particular sound — the dog’s name — coming out of your mouth. Do this 3X or 5X a day. In between, feed her by hand WITHOUT ASKING HER FOR ANYTHING! This is just a freebie. You want her to associate you with the best thing in her life, which is food. Also sprinkle kibble around the house and yard and let her sniff and seek. This will help her feel good about exploring and connecting to her new home and will also be relaxing for her as sniff/seek behaviors release happy brain chemicals.
2. Hang out and watch
Not only do you now have a new dog to attend to, you also have a new project. Put less emphasis on your dog getting to know you and more on you getting to know him or her. Observe how she moves through the world, what interests her, what scares her, what she likes to play with, engage with.
Experts in the pet care field will tell you that dogs are able to gain confidence and feel secure when there is structure and consistency in their lives.
3. Add Interactive Play
Once you know what your dog likes, offer 5 to 10 minutes of games and interactive play every day. A little fetch, a little tug, a little keep-away. Keep it light and fun and don’t ask for much. If you find your dog misses interaction with other dogs, enroll them in a doggie daycare group. Safe off leash play groups provide socialization and exercise with friendly dogs plus enlarges the circle of people your dog considers friends.
There is No Time Limit
Do this stuff for months. Actually, do it for your dog’s whole life. Think of yourself as “dating” — you don’t want to start making demands or asking much of a new friend — you just want to take plenty of time to get to know one another and do fun things together.
Good luck with your new family member!