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How To Introduce A New Dog To The Family
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How To Introduce A New Dog To The Family

Critter Culture Staff

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It's exciting to welcome a new dog to your household. You're gaining a family member and faithful companion. Of course, bringing a new dog home can also be stressful. Will your dog get along with everyone? Are your other animals ready to interact with a new pet? Following a few simple steps can help ease the transition for your new dog. Remember that it's important to be patient—a new dog might be frightened or shy at first and needs lots of reassurance.

1

Pick the right breed for your family

woman at a dog shelter meeting different breeds

Before you visit the shelter, take time to evaluate what breed of dog will best fit your family. Do you live in a small space with a limited outdoor play area? A miniature breed might be perfect. Are you looking for a dog who will alert you to potential dangers? A Labrador retriever or German shepherd could be ideal. Be sure to consider some important factors:

  • How much space you have
  • How often can you spend time with the dog
  • What special qualities (like protectiveness or a calm temperament) are important to you?

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2

Visit with your potential dog before adopting

man shaking dogs paw Rowan Jordan / Getty Images

Like humans, dogs have unique personalities. That means dogs don't get along with every human they meet. It's important to set up a time to visit with your dog before bringing them home. Most shelters allow you to interact with the dog in an enclosed space. If possible, bring the whole family along. You don't want to adopt a dog only to discover that they don't like your partner or kids.

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3

Create a safe home for your pet

Child Safety Cabinet Furchin / Getty Images

Being a pet parent means taking responsibility for your pet's safety. If you don't already have pets, make sure your dog or puppy can't access dangerous cleaning chemicals, poisonous house plants, and hazards like ant traps or snacks like chocolate or grapes left out. Check the fence around your yard to ensure it's secure. If you're worried about a new pet getting into your pantry or other cupboards, use child-proof locks to keep them closed.

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4

Establish a special space for the dog

Cute Goldendoodle Resting In Dog Bed While Enjoying Sunlight By The Window Oscar Wong / Getty Images

When you bring your dog home, they might be anxious, scared, or confused. Help ease this stress by setting up a comfortable dog bed and chew toys in a quiet area of your home. This will help both your family and your new dog adjust. If you've adopted a puppy, a crate is essential to potty training. Some pet parents keep puppies in their bedrooms so they can take care of middle-of-the-night needs.

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5

Introduce the dog to humans in your household

Above view of small kids enjoying with their dog at home. skynesher / Getty Images

Almost all dogs enjoy bonding with humans, but moving to a new home can be an overwhelming experience. Instead of expecting your dog to explore and "find" everyone in your family, take the pup on a tour and introduce them to family members. It will help your dog get a sense of the geography of your home and who belongs there. You should do this even if your family has already met your new dog at the shelter.

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6

Take your dog for a walk outside

taking dog out for a walk alexei_tm / Getty Images

Once your dog has taken a tour of your house, introduce them to your backyard if you have one. Let the dog walk around, sniff things, and mark their territory. If you don't have a yard, take your dog for a walk (on a leash, of course). If your dog is calm and already leash trained, it may be safe to introduce them to neighbors and other pets. Too much excitement right away might not be a good idea, however. Let your dog get used to their new surroundings before adding more new experiences.

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7

Stick to a feeding and exercise schedule

Black puppy eating on deck ChristopherBernard / Getty Images

Establishing a routine is one of the best ways to help your new pet get used to their new life. Use a feeding schedule to keep your pet's diet on track. Set a time every day—when you get home from work, for instance—to take your dog outside for some exercise. Knowing what to expect will help your dog feel comfortable and cared for.

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8

Introduce other pets cautiously

Girl playing and giving her pets treats for a good behaviar MelkiNimages / Getty Images

Dogs are generally social and enjoy being around other animals. However, it's important to proceed with caution. Introduce pets in an area of your house where you can play with them. Watch for signs of aggression like growling, teeth-baring, or raising their hackles. Separate the pets immediately if any of these occur. Supervise their interaction until your pets are familiar with each other and any signs of aggression have passed.

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9

Schedule your dog's first checkup

dog with vet shironosov / Getty Images

Regular veterinary care is essential for your new dog's well-being. Be sure to schedule their first checkup and any necessary vaccinations within the first few weeks of bringing them home. Ask your veterinarian if there are activities, like visiting a dog park, that you should avoid until your dog is fully vaccinated.

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10

Take it slow

Adorable mixed breed dog relaxing on sofa Kosamtu / Getty Images

When introducing a new dog to your family, take it slow. Whether you're adopting from a shelter or buying from a breeder, you are a stranger to your dog. They will need a few days to a few weeks to warm up to you and feel comfortable in their new home. Be patient and provide your new companion with plenty of attention.

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