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5 Do's and Don'ts


By Kristopher Morrison

Coming to a new home for the first time is a stressful experience for a dog. This is doubly true for adult dogs over puppies. Puppies are still in a state of adapting to the world around them, but adult dogs can be set in their ways. Think of how it feels starting a new job; you don’t know anyone, you don’t yet know company protocol, office politics or where to find the bathrooms. The dog doesn’t have the safety net of going home after a stressful first day. Here are some tips to help you and your new pooch feel more at ease.


1. Bathroom

Show your new dog where the bathroom is immediately. I mean immediately. Believe me, they will want to go as soon as they get home. This is how they mark their territory and a car ride will shake up the kidneys. They are choosing where their bathroom (and no one else’s) is, so show them the right spot ASAP.


2. Food

Try and find out what their current diet and feeding times are. Stick with that for a while and slowly change them to match yours. You want to minimize the number of drastic lifestyle changes as much as possible.


Don’t be surprised if older dogs don’t eat right away. My husky didn’t touch food for two days when I first brought him home. It’s usually anxiety based and they need some time to take everything in. If it lasts longer than that, contact a vet.


Older dogs can be protective of their food. If it wasn’t plentiful before, they may not let anyone, even you, near it. This is a dangerous behavior. I have worked as an obedience trainer and have my own method to break this behaviour, but when it comes to a dog that may bite it’s usually best to have a trainer present to assess they best way to handle your particular dog.


3. Sleep arrangements

I have always been a proponent of letting your dog sleep in your bedroom. I understand this is not for everyone, but I will remind you that dogs associate things by smell. Your bedroom smells like you more than any other room. If the room is safe enough to sleep in, then you are a safe person to be with. Just be sure never to force the dog into the bedroom. Encourage them, but let them make the choice.


Puppies will be used to sleeping with their mother. There are two tricks to help them feel at ease. The first is to put an old-school clock under a blanket on their dog bed. The ticking is similar to the heartbeat of their mother. If you’re like me, you could always bring the puppy in bed with you – just remember that establishing this now means they’ll come into bed when they’re much bigger.


4. Crating

Crating can be a good idea for the first few weeks while you and your family are out of the house. Make sure you have one prepared before you bring the dog home and make sure it’s the appropriate size. Pet store staff tend to be good at helping you with this. If it’s too big, the dog is likely to use it as a bathroom. Too small, they will feel cramped and stressed.


Not all dogs take to crates. I have found the best way to make them comfortable is to make the crate seem like their own safe space. Leave the door open, put a toy or treat inside. they go in on their own while you are home, you won’t have to worry too much about escape attempts while you’re out.It’s important for dogs to know their boundaries inside the home and out. Want them to stay out of the kitchen? Try baby gates.


5. Property borders

New dogs don’t know where home ends and begins. Fencing is ideal. I recommend walking them around the property border about once a day for the first few weeks.


Inside the home, let your dog wander. They will want to explore their surroundings and will be more comfortable doing so on their own. Block off any rooms you don’t want them entering by closing doors or putting up barriers (baby gates over basement stairs is a method I’ve used).

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