Getting a new dog is an exciting time for your family. It’s also an exciting time for the dog, but can sometimes be overwhelming. After all, this is a big change for everyone and it may take them some time to adjust to their new environment. But, there are some things you can do to help make the transition easier. A good start is avoiding these common mistakes people make when bringing a new dog home:
Mistake #1 – Delaying Training and Not Setting Boundaries
Your dog is entering a new place. Whether you just bought a puppy or you adopted from a shelter, this dog is coming to you with some preconceived notions about acceptable behavior. You may be tempted to let your dog roam as freely as possible and explore their new home, but you need to set boundaries and start training as soon as possible.
Too much freedom can be overwhelming and leave them wondering what you expect of them. Setting boundaries and beginning training will help your dog learn what is and is not acceptable in your home. Most dogs are eager to please their owners and crave their affection. Consistently rewarding desired behaviors and ignoring or redirecting undesirable behaviors helps your dog understand their role and “job” in the family quicker and easier. Plus, it helps them settle in and makes for a happier dog and a happier family.
Mistake #2 – Not Establishing a Routine
Dogs need to know what to expect from you. Part of that is accomplished with boundaries and training, the other part is starting and maintaining a daily exercise routine. Your dog relies on you for food, love, and going outside, which usually means exercise and bathroom breaks for them. It is important that you spend quality time with your dog, that they get enough exercise to stay happy and healthy, and that you let them outside often enough to do their business as needed.
No one wants to clean up accidents in the house and sticking to a routine can help avoid them. Plus, ensuring your dog gets enough exercise often keeps them from developing destructive behaviors. A tired dog is often a happy and well-behaved dog. On the other hand, a dog that doesn’t get enough exercise or gets bored will find a way to entertain themselves, which often results in unwanted behavior like chewing, digging, and more.
Mistake #3 – “Spoiling” Your Dog
It’s tempting to give your dog whatever they want, whenever they want, especially if they were adopted from a shelter. However, this can end up with your dog developing behavioral issues like separation anxiety, excessive invasion of personal space, aggression towards others, begging, and more. You may think you’re giving your dog security and love by allowing them to attach themselves to you, follow you everywhere without being invited, and giving them whatever they want, but you may be developing bad behaviors instead.
Your dog needs to be confident on their own, which means being aware of their size, aware of others, and aware of what behavior is expected, including being able to handle alone time. If you don’t want to spend your days tripping over your dog wherever you go, dealing with separation anxiety, or having your dog become overly protective of you and aggressive towards others, they need to learn that it is okay to be alone. This requires structure and boundaries. Ongoing training and socialization can go a long way in helping with this.
Start by setting up a place for them in a centrally-located room. This can be done using a crate and a dog bed with a gate blocking off the room from the rest of the house. Show your dog this is their safe place. Praise them for lying quietly in their space when you are in other rooms and don’t reward barking or whining with affection or attention. Yes, you want to spend plenty of quality time with your dog, but it’s important that you maintain personal boundaries, so your dog learns them. Your dog should not jump on you or jump up on furniture uninvited. If you don’t want them begging or swiping food from the table, they shouldn’t be fed from the table or your plate. If you think the table might be too tempting for them once your back is turned, don’t allow them in the kitchen.
It’s important to think about what behavior you do and don’t want your dog to exhibit and then be consistent in rewarding them. It’s all too easy to train puppies into bad habits simply because they’re cute. Next thing you know, they’re a fully grown dog and those behaviors aren’t so cute anymore or have become serious behavior issues that require the help of a professional trainer to overcome.
Mistake #4 – Not Socializing Enough
Your puppy needs to have a lot of positive experiences with a lot of other people and other dogs to grow into an open and friendly dog. Dogs that are not properly socialized are often nervous around other dogs and people and in new situations, which can result in fear-based aggressive behavior. On the other hand, a well-socialized dog is often open to new experiences, happy to have them, and exhibits more friendly behavior because they are confident instead of nervous or fearful. Puppy training and obedience classes are a great way to learn the latest training techniques and to get some opportunities for socialization as well.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you’re bound to start off on the right foot with your new dog. It’ll help make the transition to a new home and family much smoother and easier. Plus, it’ll help you create a happy and healthy environment for a happy and healthy dog.