When bringing home a new dog or puppy, it’s important to start off your relationship on the right ‘paw’. No matter if you adopted your new canine friend from a shelter, rescue or reputable breeder, there is always an adjustment period for your newest furry family member.  This is where Jeri Wagner’s of Bark Busters Dog Training expertise is so important.  Jeri is a longtime friend and professional partner of PVPE, and she also teaches group training classes at our store. Jeri was kind enough to share her recent blog post below with PVPE for NEW dog owners.

Many people do not realize how important an adjustment period for a newly adopted dog is when introduced into the new home. The dog may be coming out of a stressful environment and needs this time to unwind until he realizes that he is in a safe  place. Allowing a dog the time to adjust, observe and study his new environment is one of the first steps of decompression.

Most dogs take an average of two weeks to adjust/decompress, but some may require more time. During this two-week period, your new dog should be kept separate (in a crate or baby-gated room) from all other animals in the house. As the dog’s new “person”, you should be providing only the basics: food and water, safety, shelter, human interaction/bonding and entertainment (walks and playtime). This encourages your new dog to depend on you as the sole-provider and builds a balanced relationship of a bond, trust, and respect to learn to look to you for direction. Once the balanced relationship is built, it will be easier to guide your new dog through difficult situations such as learning to be with the resident dog (if any), and greeting new people.

There should be very limited or no other visitors during the two week adjustment period to avoid any confusion, or unsure situations.

Take walks around the neighborhood, but avoid meeting all the neighbors.

Avoid trips to stores or public places with lots of movement or activities.

Do not take your new dog to public off-leash dog parks as you are still learning his personality. Many things can happen at dog parks from conflicts with another dog to being exposed to unknown illnesses.

In addition to helping your newly adopted dog, this two-week adjustment period is also to help your resident dog. Even if your resident dog is “good with all dogs”, bringing in a new dog can upset the established social structure of the home. During these first couple of weeks the crate should be out of sight of your resident dog. It is not a good idea to introduce the dogs behind baby gates or fences. This can lead to barrier frustration and it is not a good first impression. Exchanging their scents on blankets or towels is one way to help them get to know each other without any physical contact.

When it is time to introduce the dogs, do so in a neutral area. Proceed slowly and calmly. Slow-paced introductions may help prevent any fear-based or aggressive reactions from developing. If bad behaviors are not reigned in from the start, they can become habit and be very hard to change in the future.

Remember, you are using the two-week adjustment/decompression period to build a balanced relationship between you and your new family member. Keep your dog’s world small during this time. Once you feel you have that bond and the dog learns to look towards you for direction, then you can introduce him to the world in small doses.

Jeri Wagner is a canine behavioral therapist and master trainer. Jeri uses a natural training system leveraging the same communication methods – body language and voice control – that dogs follow as part of their instinctive pack mentality. Training takes place in the home where the problems generally occur. Jeri trains in western Montgomery County, northern Chester County and eastern Berks County. For more information, call 1-877-500 BARK (2275) or visit www.barkbusters.com.