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Your Dog's First Day Home

By: Ranny Green

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When you bring home a new puppy, remember that his life so far has been spent with his mother and littermates. Adjusting to a new house – new smells, new people and, possibly, new siblings in the form of other pets – is going to take some doing.

On the other hand, if you bring home an adult, the suitcase he brings along with him may include emotional baggage – fear, nervousness – from an earlier relationship.

In either case, your assignment will be the same: to nurture your new pet with a low-key comfort zone. Whatever you do, don't overwhelm him with a welcoming party of noise and visitors.

Plan on spending the entire first day at home with your pet, acquainting him with his new digs – inside and out. If you've purchased a crate, introduce the animal to the enclosure, but don't force the issue. Allow him to enter on his own terms: Keep an open-door policy all day long. The crate will soon become a welcome haven from havoc in a busy household.

Child's Play

If you have children, the ground rules for bringing a new pet home should already have been established. Youngsters must be instructed beforehand not to approach the animal while running or screaming. Instead, let the puppy take the initiative: Allow the dog to go to your children on his own terms, once he has begun to settle in and get comfortable. This can take anywhere from 10 minutes to a few hours.

Don't force other household pets on the newcomer, either. Allow them to
gradually introduce themselves to one another through a safely blockaded or gated doorway. Each should be leashed and under the firm control of a family member on each side.

After a few minutes of introductions, allow your pet to explore his new surroundings. Orient him to the door that will lead him to the yard where he can do his business. Then take him outside and see if he will relieve himself.

On Guard

Throughout the day, watch your new pet carefully. But, no matter how vigilant you are, remember that accidents are to be expected: Excitement, a new environment and newfound friends can prove stressful for your dog in his first few days, so be prepared with an arsenal of paper towels, old bathroom towels and newspapers.

Sleep Tight

As the first day fades to night, your pup's comfort zone needs to be altered. Quiet and darkness can prompt separation anxiety for a puppy on his first night away from his mother and littermates. To make the transition smooth, leave a radio on low and position it several feet away from the dog's bed.

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