Tips for Introducing a New Dog to Your Family

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Introducing a new dog into a household where there is already another pet — whether a dog, cat, bird, or small mammal — can be quite tricky. How to accomplish this without squabbles or bloodshed is a question often posed to animal behaviorists. The character of any new dog you plan to integrate is an important factor. Where possible, you should take into account the sex, age, breed, and past experience of any dog you plan bring home before making a commitment.

The impact of obtaining a new dog can be strenuous on the other pets in the household. However, once the initial stress of introductions has passed, the new arrangement can turn out to be a happy one!

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, etc. — 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.

Introducing a New Dog and Preparing Your Home

When you’re introducing a new dog to your home, you need to make sure your home is just as ready as your family is. Your home is full of potential dangers to your new puppy, but they’re easy to fix if you know what to look for.

  • Furniture. Certain types of furniture can be dangerous to puppies. Reclining chairs can trap a curious pup that crawls inside. Rocking chairs can roll on a puppy’s tail or foot, so make sure your pup isn’t sitting near the rocker when you decide to take a break.
  • Slippery floors. Puppies in the early stages of learning to walk are not steady on their feet and are often clumsy. Slick floors, such as linoleum or hard wood, can result in slips and falls. Cover the floors with rugs to help your puppy with his footing. Don’t encourage running on slippery surfaces.
  • Stairs. These can pose another risk to your puppy. Not only can they slip and fall down the stairs but the stairs also lead to other areas of the house out of your watchful eye. Place baby gates so that the puppy does not have access to stairs.

Introducing a New Dog and Keeping Him Healthy

Before you take a new puppy home, take him to your veterinarian for a full physical examination. It’s important that the newcomer doesn’t have any diseases that might affect your other pets. Make sure he has been de-wormed and is up-to-date on his vaccinations before bringing him home. It’s also important for your other pets to be healthy and be current on their vaccinations before introducing your new puppy to them.

Certainly routine vaccinations are essential for prevention of infectious diseases in puppies. Puppies receive immunity against infectious disease in their mother’s milk; however, this protection begins to disappear between 6 and 20 weeks of age. The exact sequence cannot be predicted without specialized blood tests.

To protect puppies during this critical time, a well-researched approach is taken: a series of vaccines is given every 3-4 weeks until the chance of contracting an infectious disease is very low. The typical vaccine is a “combination” that protects against canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus, parainfluenza, and canine parvovirus (the four viruses are commonly abbreviated DHPP). Many veterinarians also recommend incorporating leptospirosis in the vaccination series.

Introducing a New Dog to Other Pets

Introduce your new puppy to other members of the pet population s-l-o-w-l-y. If there is more than one other animal in your menagerie, introduce the newcomer to one pet at a time, so you don’t overwhelm him. Let your new charge and the incumbent(s) sniff and inspect each other. They may growl and bark at first, but this may simply be a sign of insecurity.

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