By Nomi Berger
Be an informed adopter and make your new dog’s entry into your world as pleasurable as possible.
If this is your first dog, establish yourself with a vet or register your new dog with your established vet. Then apply for the appropriate licenses, etc., required in your area.
Remember that a dog’s true personality may not reveal itself for several weeks. Therefore, these first few weeks require an atmosphere of calm and patience, not anger or punishment.
Knowing your new dog’s established schedules for meals, pottying, walking and exercise beforehand are essential to maintaining his/her sense of continuity.
Once you arrive home, bring your new dog to his/her designated pottying place.
Spend time letting your new dog get accustomed to the place, and if he/she potties, reward him/her with praise and a treat.
Repeat this (whether your dog potties or not) to reinforce it, but be prepared for accidents. Even a housebroken dog will be nervous in, and curious about, new surroundings.
Your new dog may also pant or pace excessively, suffer from stomach upsets or have no appetite at all due to the sudden changes in his/her life.
Give your new dog the same food that he/she ate before.
After 30 minutes, remove the food whether it’s been eaten or not. Do not allow your new dog to “graze.”
(If you want to switch brands, wait a week. Begin by adding one part new food to three parts of the old for several days. Then add half new to half old for several more days, followed by one part old to three parts new until it’s all new food and the transition is complete).
Learn the commands your new dog already knows and don’t attempt to teach him/her any new ones for awhile.
Walk your new dog slowly through your home allowing him/her plenty of time to sniff around and become familiar with all of its sights and smells.
If needed, teach your new dog proper house manners from the start -- calmly and patiently. Reward good behavior with praise and treats for positive reinforcement.
Introduce your new dog to the other members of your household one by one. Unless you know that the dog enjoys approaching new people, instruct everyone to sit, silent and still, on a couch or chair and ignore him/her.
Allow your new dog to approach them, sniffing, whether it takes several seconds or several minutes. Only when he/she is relaxed should they begin to pet him/her lightly and gently.
Children in particular should be closely supervised to ensure that they follow these same guidelines.
Show your new dog his/her place to sleep and place a few treats around the area as added incentives.
Give your new dog some quiet, alone time to get used to his/her space while you remain in the room for reassurance.
For the first few days, remain calm and quiet around your new dog, allowing him/her to settle in comfortably while you become familiar with his/her likes and dislikes, quirks and habits.