Bringing a new dog into the home can be a really exciting time for the whole family and can truly change the dynamics of everyone’s lives. There are some basic steps to consider in order to make the transition to a new home as stress free as possible for your new furry friend.
Different scents and sounds can be very confusing for a new puppy or dog, and if the transition to a new home isn’t managed properly then this confusion can develop into phobias that can last a lifetime. It’s important to get it right from day one so that your new pup feels safe in their new and forever home.
Scent is an incredibly important sense in dogs and can be a key factor in distinguishing between feeling threatened and feeling safe. If you can, before bringing them home, take a towel, blanket or teddy to the breeder or rescue centre so that they can familiarise themselves with the scent of your home. It will also act as a security blanket on arrival. If it is too late to implement this see if the breeder or adoption sanctuary has something they can spare from where your dog has been previously as it will be comforting until they have familiarised themselves with the scents of your home.
Remember, that if you are taking a dog from rescue then you may not know about all the experiences that could have affected them previously. Kennels are also very noisy environments and very different to a family home so moving directly from one to the other can be stressful in itself. Some dogs can even acquire a fear of silence in their new home!
Dogs have a more sensitive ear and can hear higher frequencies than humans can so many household appliances can sound very different. Vacuum cleaners for example, are known to emit a high pitched squeal from the motor that we can’t hear but dogs can become quite agitated by. If your dog is sound sensitive then you can buy sound recordings of common phobic stimuli, which with gradual and consistent playing will help your dog to feel less anxious or afraid of them.
A safe hiding place is really important for dogs, especially those that are settling in to a new place. I always advise owners to create a ‘den’ type structure, which is covered on three sides and provides a quiet, dark and safe retreat. You can fill this den with familiar smelling blankets and toys. It’s important that the whole family respects this safe place and when your dog retreats here they aren’t disturbed.
Most dogs will settle into their new home without any major problems but if you do encounter stress, fear or the early warning signs of developing phobias then it’s worth getting the advice of a good behaviourist to ensure that problems are resolved early.
Paul Manktelow regularly appears in the media as one of the UKs leading veterinary surgeons. His accomplished career as a vet allows him to talk on a number of key animal subjects and he regularly provides valuable advice to pet owners across the UK. Appearing on TV shows such as Junior Vets, Animal Madhouse and This Morning, he also writes columns for the Times, Dogs Monthly and blogs on his popular website Vital Pet Health