To ensure this transition goes well for you and your pet, there are a few things to plan and consider before bringing your furry friend home.
If you already have a dog you may be fine on this front. Some dogs can jump pretty high fences, while some will dig under the fence or find even small gaps between fence posts. Some awesome dogs do all three things and it can be tricky to curb that wandering spirit. Desexing male dogs will make it less likely they will try to escape the yard. Like bringing a toddler into your home assume that your pet will find anything that could be dangerous absolutely irresistible. It may help to get down to doggy height to check for things that may be tempting to chew like power cords.
If you value your garden, consider setting up a digging spot where it is okay to dig. You might even use a plastic children’s sandpit as the spot of digging and burying toys. You can also fill it with water during hot weather. If you do have a pool, don’t assume your dog can swim, you may need to fence it off!
The more fun things you have in the yard, your dog is less likely to mess with the garden and get into strife. While on the subject of the yard, consider where you would like your dog to toilet, so it’s easier to clean up. In the early days, keep your dog on a lead with you while you are teaching him what to do. Take him to the toileting spot about every ½ hour after eating and drinking and have some treats with you so you can reward toileting in the correct spot.
For puppies, take them there every 2 hours until they get the hang of toilet training.
Introducing other dogs
If you have another dog, consider introducing them on neutral territory, not at home. Take them to a new park they’ve never been to and keep them both on a lead to start with. Some dogs will play immediately, but not all dogs welcome a new friend if they aren’t well socialised. If you are introducing a puppy and adult dog, it is okay to introduce them at home, but supervise any interactions and watch for any signs your adult dog is getting fed up.
Puppies tend to be rough and are not good at picking up body language from older dogs yet. Your job is to run interference and separate them as soon as the older dog is showing avoidance behaviour like looking or trying to walk away, showing the whites of the eyes or licking the lips. Also consider removing any bones or high value toys to reduce arguments, until you know everyone is going to get on.
Introducing smaller pets
If you have cats keep your dog on a lead or in a crate during any early interactions, allow your cat to explore and sniff. Make sure there are lots of elevated resting areas your cat can escape to. It may be useful to make certain areas off limits to the dog, such as the bedrooms (baby gates can usually allow cat access, but not dog access). Be aware of dogs that show any instinct to chase cats, as this can be difficult behaviour to curb. See a Veterinary Behaviourist if you need some assistance.
Before you bring the pup home, there are a few essentials you will need. Try to feed the new dog its regular food to limit the risk of stomach upsets, you can then do a gradual transition over 1 week to your preferred food. Your new dog will also need a collar and lead, bed to sleep on, grooming equipment and bowls.
With a bit of planning, introducing your new dog will be a breeze. Keep it all low key, try not to overwhelm the new dog and in no time and you will barely remember a time when they weren’t part of the family.
And, if you want to protect your expensive dog beds from the usual wear and tear they endure, you might want to invest in a 4Knines Dog Bed Liner! This bed liner is made out of durable soft waterproof material that will keep the interior of the bed clean and dry despite any accidents your dog may have.
Dr. Eloise Bright
Eloise Bright is a Sydney vet working for online pet store Love That Pet. She has a particular passion for helping pets with anxiety and itchy dogs. She grew up with a collection of pocket pets like rats, mice and rabbits before her parents welcomed a big goofy Newfoundland into the family in her teens. Her passion for helping animals has seen her travel to the Cook Islands to volunteer, but she currently enjoys the quiet life in Sydney with her young boys, Jimmy the cat and a constant procession of stray cats and birds.