Introductions Can Be “Ruff”
By Lena Hart, Marketing and Event Planning Manager, Suncoast Humane Society
Bringing a new pet home makes for an exciting day. Most people already know the exact activities their new companion will partake in and are eager to start. But what starts out as a happy new beginning sometimes ends in heartache. According to a 2013 American Humane Association study, 1 out of 10 adopted shelter animals are returned within the first six months. Despite the best intentions and highest of hopes, unforeseen circumstances may arise and result in the pet being returned. So what can you do to avoid this painful process? Important things to consider prior to adoption are: breed needs, landlord’s approval, pet allergies, and prepping the home. Although there are various types of pets that can be adopted, this article is focused on welcoming canine companions. Suncoast Humane Society’s Senior Animal Behaviorist, Jeff Joyce, offered a few tips for the initial weeks.
If your new dog is the only pet:
- Prep your house: crate, food, bed, collar, food, leash, etc. Look around your home and imagine a dog wreaking havoc. Then get busy pet-proofing.
- Take long walks throughout the neighborhood, front and back yard, and finally, inside the home to establish boundaries on the leash.
- Create a designated, safe zone with crate where your dog can relax. You can also use diluted lavender oil and play classical music for relaxation.
- Don’t leave toys around. Use toys as an earned reward for good behavior. Once play time is over, put the toys away.
- Act as if there are guests in the home and establish clear boundaries. Physically show the dog where they are allowed to spend time and maintain these boundaries.
- Avoid greetings with outside family/friends for the first weeks so that your new pet can acclimate to their in-home family.
- Hire a professional trainer to assist and take obedience classes to build human-animal bond.
If you already have a dog in the home – all of the above, plus the following:
- Take both dogs on long walks in neutral territory, where the environment is new to both.
- After the initial walk, have your existing dog already in the house and take off their leash. Have your new dog brought in and introduced to the house and boundaries on a leash.
- Feed both dogs separately: current dog fed in their usual area, new dog in another room.
- Crate train, or use a crate for night time and when they are home alone.
- Do not allow both dogs to sleep on the owner’s bed or the couch until the relationship is established and both dogs can follow rules.
- No toys, chew bones, or anything of value given to either dog for the first few weeks. Possessiveness can lead to potential behavioral problems. Having to share toys and treats can trigger unknown territorial tendencies.
We hope these tips are helpful. Stay tuned for our second installment on how to help your feline companion adjust in their new castle.