Congratulations on your new puppy! Whether you’ve just fallen in love with and decided to adopt a shelter pup, been patiently waiting to bring home that special puppy from a breeder, or you’ve already brought home your new furry friend, we’re here to help you transition your new pet into your home.
Before You Bring Your New Pup Home
Check out our downloadable and printable New Puppy Checklist for a quick, concise list of what you should have on hand before your bring your new friend home!
Puppy Proofing Your Home
Look at your home from your new puppy’s point of view. If you get down on your hands and knees, you’ll see what a curious new pup will be likely to investigate. Tie electrical cords out of reach and move valuables and potential (unapproved) chew toys to a closet, drawer or high shelf. Keep all closet and cabinet doors closed and ensure all trash cans have a secure lid.
You will also want to check your yard for potential hazards, such as holes or gaps in a fence or toxic plants in your garden. Some common plants found in Florida gardens that are poisonous to dogs are the sago palm, azaleas, and oleander.
Introducing Your New Pet to Your Home
When you first bring your new puppy home, you should let her investigate her new surroundings. If you have other pets, keep them in a separate room at first to let your new pup sniff and explore their new home without interruption. Show her where her food and water bowls are, where her crate and bed are, and where she should go to the bathroom. You may consider using baby gates to confine your new companion to puppy-proof areas while she explores her new home.
Acquainting Your New Pup With Other Pets
After you have allowed your new pup time to get comfortable in her new environment, you may then introduce her to other pets in your home.
It is most commonly recommended to first introduce your resident dog and new pup in neutral territory outside of your home, on leash with the help of another human. For this type of introduction, first walk the dogs at a distance where they can see one another and gauge their body language as you approach. Be mindful of defensive social cues such as stiff posture, raised hackles, baring teeth or an intense stare. If you notice any of these behaviors, calmly interrupt and redirect your dog’s attention elsewhere. Allow the dogs to set the pace of the introduction – never force either pet into a tense or uncomfortable situation. If both dogs exhibit positive body language in their approach, allow one to walk behind the other and then switch places. If both pets are still comfortable, you may walk them side by side, and then allow them to greet one another and interact under supervision. If at any point either dog exhibits signs of discomfort, slow down and back up to where both dogs were comfortable and try again, rewarding calm, positive behavior with praise or treats. Remember that patience is key to a successful introduction.
If you do not have another human to help with an on-leash introduction, you may also choose to introduce your new puppy to your resident dog in your home. Let them first greet each other through a barrier such as a baby gate so they may see and smell one another, but not physically interact. If both dogs are comfortable, you should allow both pets space to get acquainted with one another in a neutral setting away from feeding areas and toys to avoid any resource guarding or territorial behaviors from the resident dog. Keep the initial introduction short and sweet, and praise positive behaviors you observe from both pets.
For the first few weeks, any engagement between your older dog and new puppy should be monitored. Keep an eye on their body language while they interact with each other, as a young puppy may not yet recognize social cues given by the older dog. Do not force interaction if either dog is uncomfortable or overwhelmed.
Some dogs immediately do well meeting a puppy and are thrilled to have a new playmate, while others will take a longer period of time to adjust to a new family member. Be patient and continue to follow the older dog’s schedule while integrating your new pup to your daily routine.