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What To Expect When You’re Expecting…A Puppy!
There can be challenges when you integrate a new pet into your household’s routine and lifestyle, but this transition can be less nerve-wracking if you know what to expect!
Even though bringing home a new pet is a special and exciting experience, it’s also a time that can be a bit nerve-wracking for both you and your new furry friend. While it’s a good change, adding a new member to your household is still a change, which can be inherently scary. This change will also come with some upheaval for everyone in the household to cope with as your new dog is integrated into your family’s routine and lifestyle. It will take time for your new puppy or dog to learn the rules of your household and what behavior is expected from them.
While your new dog may immediately fall in love with you and vice versa, they still may be confused and nervous when they first come home. For adult strays, this may be the first time the dog has been exposed to a home environment. For puppies, this is an entirely new environment and the first time they are away from their siblings, which is something they’ll have to get used to.
Of course, this isn’t to say your new dog won’t be happy in your home. When you create an environment filled with love and fun, your home will quickly become your dog’s happy place. He just needs time to decompress and adjust to his new environment. According to dog experts, you should always remember the 3-3-3 rule when you bring home a new puppy or rescue dog. This rule explains that it takes 3 days for your dog to decompress, 3 weeks for your dog to start to realize he is home and adapt to your routine, and 3 months for your new pet to realize that this is his home and to feel completely comfortable. This rule is also frequently referred to as the “rescue dog honeymoon period.” While your dog is going through this period, it’s important to give him the space and support he needs to help him adjust to his new surroundings.
Additionally, keep in mind that this rule is only a guideline. Some dogs and puppies will feel at home much sooner, while others may need more time to feel safe and build trust. Although every dog is different, here is a rough idea of what you can expect when you first bring home your new pet.
The First Day:
On your dog or puppy’s first day home, he will likely be very curious about his new surroundings, but may also feel stressed, anxious, or nervous. He may want to explore and sniff around your home and property. Start by showing your puppy the outside of your home. This allows him to take in the new smells and go to the bathroom if necessary.
In general, you should plan to keep these first days on the calm and quiet side to give your dog time to decompress. Don’t invite other people over to meet your new puppy just yet. Instead, spend as much time as you can allowing just the immediate members of the family to bond with their new fur baby. It’s a good idea to take a day or two off work if you can as you get to know each other.
Especially for puppies, the first day in your home may feel a bit overwhelming. They are in a new place and missing their mom and siblings. Your puppy’s first night home may unfortunately be a sleepless one. Your puppy may need bathroom breaks throughout the night or could whine and cry because he misses his mother and siblings. Your puppy may beg to sleep in your bed, but only let him if that’s where you will want him to sleep long-term. (Usually, new pet owners will have their puppies sleep in a crate for potty training purposes.) In anticipation of your puppy’s insomnia and restlessness, it’s a good idea to play with your puppy to tire them out before bedtime. Additionally, remember that your puppy’s nighttime routine will get easier as he adjusts to life in your home and gets older.
Starting on day one, you can begin training your puppy by enforcing boundaries and getting on a routine. For example, you can start a routine and stick to it by setting mealtimes or picking a bedtime for your puppy. Usually, puppies will need to eat two or three times a day. Start potty training your puppy by giving him frequent bathroom breaks and rewarding him with praise and treats when he goes in the right place. Note that young puppies will typically need to go every 45 minutes while awake, and should be given opportunities to relieve themselves after eating, drinking, napping, playing, or whenever they start sniffing around the room. Adult dogs will be able to hold their bladders longer, but the same general principles apply as if you were potty training a puppy. If he seems like he has to go, give him the opportunity. If your puppy or dog needs bathroom breaks during the night, take them out of their crate to go and then put them back in their crate when they are done. This will help solidify potty training and crate training!
The First Week:
During the first week, your dog may be nervous and unsure of what is going on. It’s common for dogs to lose their appetites, try to hide around the house, or not feel comfortable being themselves when they first come home. Alternately, some dogs may try to test boundaries in order to understand the rules of the house and see what they can get away with. No matter where your dog falls on this spectrum, he should slowly start to decompress in his new home. You will likely notice that your new dog is significantly more relaxed on day seven than he was on day one.
During this first week, it’s generally advised to give your dog the space he needs as you earn his trust. Since he may be feeling scared or on edge, you’ll need to be careful as you introduce the other pets in the home to your new dog. In fact, many pet experts recommend waiting 24-48 hours before you introduce your new dog to other pets in the home. While your existing dogs and your new dog may enjoy a brief introduction on day one, it’s usually best to keep them in separate parts of the home to let everyone decompress before your new dog gets fully integrated into your pack. You also need to be careful to make your older dogs don’t feel threatened or like the new pup is invading their territory. This is a process that shouldn’t be rushed and may take several days to complete. When you do introduce your dogs, make sure they meet outside on neutral territory. Then, keep supervising all interactions to make sure everyone behaves appropriately. For example, puppies may not know how to behave around adult dogs, so you’ll want to make sure your older dog is correcting your puppy appropriately.
Additionally, make sure to supervise your new dog during his early interactions with your children. Especially for adult rescue dogs, you may not know their history with children or if they may be scared of kids. Alternatively, some children are so excited by the new pet that they handle the pup too roughly or behave too wildly, which scares the dog. Additionally, don’t let children infringe on the space your dog may need to rest and decompress in his first few days in your home. Ultimately, you want to make sure your children and your dog are all behaving appropriately and respecting boundaries.
Once your dog or puppy has had a chance to decompress and all members of the household have had a chance to acclimate, you can dive into training, socialization, and reinforcing the routine you started on day one. For example, you can start training through play, introducing your dog to walking on a leash, and teaching your dog basic obedience commands. If your puppy is up to date on his vaccinations and acclimating well, you may also be able to start socializing him at puppy playgroups or group training sessions led by a certified dog trainer.
Additionally, use this first week to set the groundwork for preventing separation anxiety. Although you likely won’t want to leave your new pet alone, you need to practice coming and going for his own good early on. Eventually, you are going to have to leave home to go to work or other commitments. It’s best to get your dog used to your schedule right away.
Lastly, it’s also a good idea to take your family’s new addition to the veterinarian for a wellness check as early as possible during this first week. While your dog’s breeder or the animal shelter should have evaluated your pup for any health issues, it never hurts to get a second opinion from a vet you trust, especially before you risk exposing other animals in your home to possibly contagious colds, illnesses, or parasites. Since many animal rescues don’t have a lot of resources, your vet could find an undiagnosed health issue that needs to be addressed, although it’s unlikely. This step is more about doing your due diligence and providing you with peace of mind.
The First Three Weeks:
As the first three weeks fly by, your dog will start to realize that he has found his forever home. As your dog figures out his environment and gets used to his routine, his true personality may start to show in adorable ways. That said, you will also want to keep an eye out for possible behavioral issues that may appear during this time period. Some dogs will challenge their owner’s authority or other animals in the home as they settle in and figure out their place in the household. If you notice behavioral issues, make sure to nip them in the bud early so they don’t turn into a long-term problem. It’s always better to correct bad behavior before it becomes a habit, and should be fairly easy to do so if you’ve already started teaching your dog basic obedience and boundaries. If you need help, make sure to contact a certified dog trainer in your neighborhood right away.
The First Three Months:
During the first three months, your household will find a new status quo that includes your newest addition. By the time you reach your dog’s three-month adoption anniversary, life in your household should be much less hectic or chaotic. Your puppy should be sleeping better, your pets should be co-existing happily, and your new dog should be progressing well with training. The dog should be set in his routine, feel completely comfortable and secure in his new home, and a loving and trusting bond should have been established between the pet parent and puppy. The three-month mark generally signifies the end of the rescue dog honeymoon period, or your dog’s transition into your home.
Are you bringing home a new dog or puppy soon? Make your new pup feel welcome with these essential pet products!
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