There are few life events more exciting than the prospect of a new puppy, but take care to introduce a dog to a new home in a stress-free way.

Whether you’re adopting a youngster or a senior dog, plan carefully before bringing your new family member home. Your home is filled with sights, smells, and noises that are unfamiliar to your new dog … So take the following steps to keep the process anxiety-free.

Introduce a Dog to a New Home

Introduce a dog to a new home: Dog sitting on stoop with owner.

Image by FotoArt-Treu, Pixabay, CC0

1. Dog behavior experts, such as Cesar Milan, recommend showing a new dog around the outside of the home first. Keep her on a leash, allowing her to walk around the yard and become used to the smells and sounds. Let her explore the boundaries of her new “territory.”

2. If there’s preferred spot for her to relieve herself, show her where to go. If she marks the spot, give her a treat to reward her. When you introduce a dog to a new home, it’s a good idea to reward her every time she follows the rules.

3. Introduce your new dog to other family members one at a time while still outside and on the leash. Let the dog approach the other “pack” members, and keep things calm and laid back. Too much enthusiasm can spook a new pet. Older children can give the dog small treats when she approaches them to help bond with her.

4. Take your new dog for a walk to de-stress. After you introduce a dog to a new home with new family members, let her burn off any anxiety with a brisk walk. Map out a simple, 10-minute walk routine before bringing your new family member inside, giving her a chance to work off any extra energy.

Introduce Your Dog to the Indoors in a Controlled Situation

Dog with stuffed animal.

When you introduce a dog to a new home, toys can help make her feel at home. Image via Lydia89, Pixabay, CC0

5. It’s important to introduce a dog to a new home in a relaxed and calming way. Give your dog a chance to succeed by puppy-proofing before bringing her home. Secure valuables, safety-proof wiring, and move anything she’s not allowed to chew or taste out of reach.

6. Give her a tour of her new home while still on the leash.  Let her sniff at baseboards and furniture. Gently let her know what is and isn’t allowed, from the first day. If she gnaws on something, give her a dog toy to chew instead. Don’t let her get away with bad habits that will get her into trouble later; it’s not fair to your dog. If she’s not allowed in certain rooms or on the couch, let her know right away.

7. After the tour, show your new pup to her eating area while still on the leash. She should always have access to fresh water. Make sure the water dish is full, but don’t offer a big bowl of food just yet. A few pieces of kibble in the food dish is enough to give her the idea without giving her an upset tummy.

8. Now it’s time to show her to her own space. This can be a corner with a doggy bed or a spare room, but dogs need their own “bedroom” where they can feel safe. It can be stressful when you introduce a dog to a new home, and they need their own private “den” area.

Adding toys or bedding from her previous home will make it feel more familiar. Crates can help keep your new dog out from under foot and give her a safe place to hide from rambunctious children or other family pets. Providing a crate gives her a bolt-hole when she needs some time to herself.

Give the Dog Time and Don’t Force Anything

When you introduce a dog to a new home, a cozy bed can help her feel more secure. Image by MeHe, Pixabay, CC0

9. Once you’ve done the tour and introduced the human members of your dogs new family, it’s time to let your new dog settle down. Let her hang out in her new “bedroom” and remove her leash so she knows it’s time to chill.

10. If you have children, you’re going to have to train them, too. Kids love to roughhouse with the family pet, but until you know how your dog will react, make sure the kids know that the dog needs a break from the attention once in a while.

11. When you introduce a dog to a new home with other dogs, it may take time before they’re comfortable with each other, so don’t expect them to be best buddies right away. The Animal Rescue League of Boston recommends Introducing them outside in an area with no food or toys to incite competition.

Praise, Praise, and More Praise

When you introduce a dog to a new home, schedule lots of fun outdoor time. Image by alihasadd25, Pixabay, CC0

12. Giving your new dog opportunities to succeed is the best way to reinforce good behavior. Incorporating a play routine that includes training is good way to create positive experiences for your dog and strengthen your bond.

13. Setting up a regular walk at the same time of day after you introduce a dog to a new home can give her a sense of structure and routine. Giving her a chance to “patrol” with you is also a good time to teach her how fast and how close to walk by lavishing her with praise. It also makes the experience more rewarding for both of you.

14. Like people, dogs have an urge to contribute to their pack family. Direct those instincts in a positive way by giving her approved “tasks” during play and exercise. Otherwise, you might find your new family member trying to retrieve birds from the backyard. Praise her when she retrieves her own toys, instead.

15.  Positive reinforcement is better than harsh criticism when you introduce a dog to a new home. It’s also less stressful for both of you. Dogs have a limited understanding of what isn’t acceptable sometimes, so it’s far easier to praise than to scold when she’s bad. Build trust with your dog by staying positive when you interact. When you introduce a dog to a new home, take time to learn how she reacts. Especially with rescue dogs, she may need time to trust you.

Image via andrewicus, Pixabay, CC0

When you introduce a dog to a new home, it can be a rewarding experience for any animal lovers. It makes sense to introduce a dog to a new home the right way from the first day, with set rules and limits and adequate patience. It should be a positive experience for both the family and the dog, and it’s worth taking the time and effort to make sure your new pet feels safe and secure and loved. Give your new dog every opportunity to succeed; she’s sure to impress you with how quickly she becomes a fully fledged member of the family.

Featured image via Dgdom, Pixabay, CC0

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