Starting this Year on the Right Paw
It's no secret that last year brought many surprises, including many new tail-waggers, into our lives. While bringing home a new fur-family member is an exciting experience, it can also be a stressful one, for both you and your new dog. To make sure your new pup makes a smooth transition into your home, use the ‘Rule of 3’ to help manage your expectations.
3 Days to Decompress
Whether your new pup comes from a shelter or a breeder, all dogs in their brand new home are going to experience high levels of stress. Some dogs will seek out your company for comfort and others may attempt to hide. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help your new dog manage this stress like setting up a safe space where your dog can retreat and get some alone time when they feel overwhelmed. You can also use a calming, natural pheromone spray to make this space extra cozy and relaxing. If you have an especially anxious dog, a CBD supplement for the first few days can help them safely manage their stress.
We build on this foundation with a consistent schedule. Having set times that you feed, play, take them out to go potty, and have quiet times helps keep you and your pet on the right track. For example, disciplined feeding times lead to regular bathroom breaks, more scheduled bursts of play time, and forecasted naps/alone time. To that end, take some time to learn how long your pup can go between trips to the green and how much exercise their breed demands.
Try to lead them out on a leash to their "bathroom" spot and wait for them to go, until they begin to use the spot on their own. A good stain and odor remover spray will help you tackle any early potty mistakes in the house, but a consistent routine should help them move past this stage quickly. Just the same, setting aside time specifically to play lets your dog get out their energy in a constructive way, while establishing ‘quiet times’ that give them time to chew or rest without needing your attention.
3 Weeks to Kick Off Training
The first three weeks of owning a new dog are often the most challenging. Once the initial stress wears off, your new pup will start eagerly testing the boundaries of their new world. Make sure your whole household is consistent in which behaviors they discourage and which they encourage. This is the SINGLE most important piece of successful training.
A healthy training treat can be used to build positive associations with good behaviors like peeing outside, greeting strangers calmly, allowing you to put a leash and collar on them, etc. Appropriate chews and toys can also help end inappropriate chewing. When it comes to chewing, every dog has its own texture preference. If your dog goes after table legs or floor boards, you may want to consider a wood or natural deer antler chew. If they're chewing your power cords or shoe soles, make sure you have safe rubber chew toys for your pup. If they're enjoying your shoe laces and couch cushions, a rope or durable cloth chew might be the one for them. If you only provide one texture of toy for your dog, they are much more likely to use your possessions as pacifiers.
Speaking of eating things, choosing a specific diet type should be included in this section. During the first few weeks with your new dog, you'll also have to navigate their new diet. Whether they're just getting on solid food or transitioning from a shelter diet to their new diet, some tummy-upset is normal in the beginning. In fact, just the stress of changing homes can cause your pup to have loose stool or vomit in the beginning.
New puppies can transition to solid foods more easily by mixing their new diet with a few tablespoons of raw goat’s milk. The goat milk acts as a formula replacement and a natural probiotic for a weaning puppy’s system. This gentler transition helps set them up for good gut health and ensures they don’t lose too much weight during weaning. If you're changing from one adult diet to another, you can mix your dog’s old diet in with their new diet for 3-4 days to ease the transition. Adding a few spoonfulls of pumpkin or a dog-specific probiotic to their food, for the first few days, can also help prevent diarrhea.
3 Months to Fully Fit into the Family
When your new pup has had a few months to decompress and become confident in their new home, it's time to explore! At this stage you're ready to introduce your dog to new people, places, and pups. Make sure your dog is fully vaccinated and microchipped before you begin your adventures together. A new dog is much more likely to become lost if it gets loose. To ensure your dog always finds its way home, they should wear a collar with visible I.D. tags and be microchipped in case the tags fall off.
Every dog needs to explore but safety first! Before you take your dog for a car ride, have a sturdy harness and seat-belt attachment ready. A loose dog in the car is a danger to itself and the other passengers as they can impair the driver or become severely injured in the event of a car accident. If you're planning to bring your pup out on hikes into the countryside, you may want to check with our knowledgeable vets about additional vaccines your dog may require. We even offer rattlesnake vaccines that boost your dog’s tolerance for venom if they should be bit out on the trail.
Stimulating both a dog’s senses and mind makes them genuinely happy, healthy, and well-adjusted family members. Exposure to new sounds in a positive environment can help them be less stressed about loud noises. Use recordings of thunder or fireworks at home while you instigate play to desensitize them to these common stressors. Similarly, new smells and mental challenges keep your dog stimulated and away from destructive boredom behaviors like chewing or barking. Puzzle feeders and toys are an excellent way to engage your dog while they accomplish their daily routine! If you'd like some assistance, dog training classes are also an excellent resource for active dogs and dog-owners. Whether you're teaching them to sit or going for service-dog-level obedience, challenging your dog to learn gives them a constructive outlet for their energy. A busy dog is a good dog!
Kahooligan Tip - Joining a new home can be scary and frustrating for a new dog of any age. Use the 'Rule of 3' as a guide to set realistic expectations for you and your pup. Every dog is an individual and your journey together is a unique one, so don’t be afraid to ask any of our knowledgeable team members for help along the way!