Finding a new home can be difficult. It doesn't have to be.

[Facilitating Safe & Successful Dog-to-Dog Intros]

Written by Ioana Busuioc, March 2019

As of January this year, we’ve had the wonderful Sammy join the AARCS team as a Behaviour Coordinator. She has already demonstrated an amazing attitude and willingness to offer her knowledge, insight, and support for all things dog related, from fostering, to ownership, to care, and beyond! She has her own blog, from which she has graciously agreed to let me use posts and photos. This will be the first post from her own blog, which can be found at Bear and Foster Friends. Enjoy!

Will sweet Hannah win you over?! AARCS ID# A40716766

Will sweet Hannah win you over?! AARCS ID# A40716766

Written by Sammy Musgrave

Congratulations on making the best decision ever to adopt a dog into your family! How are you feeling? Over the moon happy? Nervous? Overwhelmed? A little bit of all of the above? Let me help you dispel some of those worries with a concrete Fido-Proof plan so we can focus on all the good feels that come with bringing home your new-to-the-family sweet and furry companion.

Gather Supplies and Prepare your Home

Before you bring home Fido home for the first time, make sure you’ve already done your supply run for a leash, collar, harness, food, etc. Once you have the basics, here are some less obvious preparations that I recommend in order to make your life that much easier in the long run:

  • If you will be using a crate, make sure it’s already set up before you bring your new dog home. Witnessing the set-up could make Fido even more hesitant to trust the dog-eating contraption that you are asking him to get into.

  • Designate and prepare a dog-proof space. I can’t stress how important this step is! I bring 10-15 new foster dogs into my home per year, and this was a rule I had to learn the hard way… (a few times). Save yourself from the potential destruction, accidents, and stress that can result from not having a dog-proof space. In many homes, this looks like a gated off area in the kitchen, mudroom, or other non-carpeted space, using baby-gates, x-pens, crates, turned over coffee tables, and creatively placed chairs. This area should include Fido’s water and food dishes, a dog bed, a crate (if you’ve decided to use one), and a few chew toys (bully sticks, frozen stuffed kongs, etc).

Vida plotting her escape from her dog-proof space.

Vida plotting her escape from her dog-proof space.

  • If you have children, now is a good time to teach them how to interact with their new furry friend. It’s also crucial that they not approach your new family member while he is eating or sleeping during the first few weeks.

  • If you have other pets in the home, be prepared to separate them for the first three days. Yes, your home is safe, and your family is likely the best thing to ever happen to Fido, but here’s the catch – he doesn’t know that yet. Something called a ‘stress event’ triggers when a dog’s schedule and environment changes. This means a whole lot of stress hormones flood Fido’s system, and continue to increase over a 3 day period before stabilizing to normal levels. It is a best practice to separate your new canine from the rest of the pack until he has had some time to decompress in his new environment. Even after 3 days, they should not be left together unsupervised during the first few weeks or perhaps months. It can take a long time for dogs to acclimate to one another in a new home, and spats over jealousy, territory, and miscommunication are to be expected.

  • Find out what food he is currently eating so that you can keep him on it to avoid any tummy troubles. You can gradually transition him to a food of your choice over a 1-2 week period. Adding flora Fiora or pumpkin can assist with this transition but isn’t necessary.

  • Stock up on some training treats. Kibble can be used for a lot of training, but I recommend high value treats for anything that may be particularly challenging for your new dog (keeping in mind, that for some dogs, something as ‘easy’ as stairs might constitute a challenge that requires payment in a much higher currency).

  • Kongs and bully sticks! Give Fido something appropriate to chew on so that he isn’t tempted by your delicious looking baseboards.

Be Prepared for the Drive Home

Crate your new canine companion for the first ride home, or if he isn’t crate trained, have a second person with you to hold onto his leash during the drive. As much as you might want to show him off or introduce him to fun new experiences, avoid making any stops on the way home. Your first stop should be the area where you want him to do his business. Once he has done his business outside, you are ready to introduce him to his new home.

Who could say no to this face!? Jally is up for adoption, AARCS ID# A40332781

Who could say no to this face!? Jally is up for adoption, AARCS ID# A40332781

Create an Effortless Schedule for the First Week

It’s a good idea to keep a 10-15 feet lead on him as he explores the house. After he has had a chance to explore, help him get acquainted with the area that you’ve prepared for him. You can spend some time hand feeding him, and petting him while he gets adjusted to his designated space, but do make sure to leave him for an hour or two, preferably with a stuffed chew, to allow him some time to rest.

This is a general outline of what his routine should look for the first few days. When Fido isn’t in his designated area, it is a good practice to keep him on a 10-15 foot lead at all times during the first few days.

  • Wake up and let Fido out for a bathroom break
  • Feed breakfast
  • Bathroom break
  • Exercise, play, and/or family time
  • Bathroom break
  • Fido’s designated area
  • Repeat bathroom break-exercise, play and/or family time-bathroom break-Fido’s designated area circuit until it’s dinner time
  • Feed dinner
  • Bathroom break
  • Exercise, play, and/or family time
  • Bathroom break
  • Bedtime in Fido’s designated area

Note that there are tons of bathroom breaks to remove any room for error. You might be wondering why all the extra precautions? Perhaps your dog has already been housetrained and has never gotten into anything he wasn’t supposed to in his foster home. Here’s the thing- dogs are terrible at generalizing. Just because he knew the rules in one household doesn’t necessarily mean he is going to realize those same rules apply to your household. That, coupled with the stress and anxiety of moving into a new household makes an accident that much more likely to occur.

Make the First Week Utterly Unspectacular

The first week should be relatively quiet and stress-free. This week is all about bonding with Fido and teaching him his new routine. Avoid introducing him to all kinds of new people, places, and animals. He needs time to feel safe, and to adjust to his new environment, people, and routine. This is also a good week to practice a few short departures to prepare your new dog for the first time you have to leave him for an extended period of time.

Bear makes boring look cute!

Bear makes boring look cute!

Thanks for reading everyone!

Love, Sammy & Bear

AARCS_adopt_canine

Thank you kindly for reading, I hope this was helpful and informative!

Ioana Busuioc
Blog and Website Content Creator

Got ideas for our next blog? Email me at blog@aarcs.ca!

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