How to Make Your New Dog Feel Comfortable in Your New Home

How to Make Your New Dog Feel Comfortable in Your New Home

It’s hard to think of something more exciting than bringing a new dog home, and then watching them become a part of your family.  But, whether it’s your first dog or you’re a seasoned pet owner, there are a number of important steps that you need to take to make sure that this transition is a smooth and painless one, for you, your new furry friend, and every member of your family – including other pets.

You see, no two dogs are alike, and because of that, the process of getting your dog set up in a new home can be unpredictable.  Every dog has their own temperament, and so will react to the process differently.  Still, fortunately, there are a number of things you can do in order to ensure that your new companion feels as safe and comfortable as possible, and adjusts to their new environment and family as quickly as they can.

Are All Dogs Uneasy in a New Home?

Like we just said, every dog is different.  If the last dog you brought home adapted right away, don’t assume that’s going to be the case for your new dog.  Plus, if you are a first-time dog owner, you can listen to the advice of friends who have gone through this process before, but it’s important to keep in mind that ultimately, you and your new pup’s experience is going to be unique.

Still, the fact remains that most dogs show some signs of uneasiness when they first come to a new home.  And, that’s totally understandable, if you can put yourself in their shoes (or in this case, paws) for a moment.  A new house is filled with new people, new sights, new sounds, new smells, and so on.  Meanwhile, canines are creatures of habit, who feel safe in familiar, predictable environments, where they know that there is no danger lurking around the corner. 

So, how long does it take for a dog to get adjusted to a new home?  

For most dogs, it can take a couple of weeks before they start to show signs of relaxing into their new environment and routine.  But, dogs who lean more toward anxious may need a couple of months before they really start to come out of their shell.  Then, there are dogs who start to feel comfortable the very next day after you brought them home.

Signs Your New Dog May Need Some Extra TLC in Their New Home

Before we start discussing how to make your new dog more comfortable in their new home, we want to talk about the signs that a new dog is in distress during the transition – that is, more distress than what’s considered expected in this kind of situation.  Some dogs are more prone to anxiety than others, largely due to how secure they felt as puppies, and early experiences that they had prior to being adopted.  If your dog is demonstrating clear signs of anxiety, you’ll want to give them extra-special care, by keeping your schedule more open so that you can better address their needs.  Here are the signs that your dog is particularly uneasy in a new environment.

  • Disinterest in Play and Affection: A dog who isn’t showing any interest in playing, interacting with its owner, or giving and receiving affection, is likely struggling with some feelings of anxiety, and a lack of safety in their environment.  
  • Refusing to Eat: One of the signs of distress that’s the easiest to spot is a disinterest in food.  For almost every dog, this won’t last long as their survival instincts will kick in, and they’ll eat once their bodies are hungry enough.  But, of course, it must be said that if your dog’s lack of eating goes on, you’ll want to get them to the vet to make sure that there isn’t another underlying issue going on.
  • Destructive Behaviors: It’s far from uncommon for a dog to display destructive behaviors around the home when they feel uneasy.  This can mean destroying items in the home, scratching up furniture, knocking things over, etc.
  • Aggression: An aggressive dog is almost always an insecure dog, whose survival instincts are telling them that they need to stay in fight or flight mode.  If your dog is displaying aggressive behavior when adjusting to a new home, you may need to get a professional involved, as aggressive behavior can be very unpredictable, and potentially dangerous to you or someone else in your home.
  • Chewing at Their Skin: One sign of distress that can be harder to spot is chewing of the skin and fur.  This can be hard to spot because if you don’t actually seeing it happen, you wouldn’t know to look at their skin and fur for signs that it’s taking place.  
  • Hyperactivity: To an extent, there are times when it’s expected for a dog to demonstrate excessive activity.  For instance, puppies have high amounts of energy, and require a lot of stimulation to tire them out.  But, if a dog is overly rambunctious, this may because their nervous system is over-stimulated due to anxiety.
  • Excessive Vocalizing: Dogs that vocalize excessively are often in distress, whether it be whimpering or barking.  
  • Shaking/Panting/Pacing: Shaking, panting, and pacing are all clear indicators that your dog is experiencing acute anxiety.
  • Puppies vs. Adult Dogs vs. Senior Dogs

    Now, another thing that is worth bringing up is that how a dog responds to a new home can largely depend on their age.  Puppies, for instance, typically require far more stimulation than senior dogs, who are likely to be more lethargic.  And, a senior dog may need special accommodations made for them, like ramps installed in certain areas to address any possible mobility issues.  Therefore, we urge you to take your new dog’s age into account, to ensure that your home can be as friendly to them as possible.

    How to Get Your Home Ready for Your New Dog

    Now, if you want to start getting your dog ready for a new home, let’s cover all of the bases so that the transition can be an easy one – or, at least, as easy as it can be.  Here are all of the things to take into consideration, so use this as a checklist that you start planning before you even bring home your new canine.

    #1: Clear Your Schedule

    First off, make sure to plan for his or her arrival by clearing your schedule for a couple of days.  The best option, if it’s possible, is for your dog to come home on a weekend, so that you have two full days with them, where you can give them all of your attention.  Bringing your dog home on a Tuesday night, for instance, and leaving for work the next morning, can be a bad idea, since a scared dog left home alone can mean coming home to some unwanted surprises.  

    Besides trying to get your new dog to come home when you don’t have work for a couple days, make sure to clear your social calendar as well.  The first few days with your new dog can have a major impact on how quickly they’re able to adjust to their new environment, and this is also the opportunity for some very important initial bonding time.

    #2: Be Prepared to Cancel Plans (if Necessary)

    We talked about clearing your schedule, but for most of us, it’s impossible to, say, cancel all responsibilities for an entire week.  So, if you can, aim to make your schedule as flexible as possible.  There’s always a good possibility you’ll need to cancel some plans as that first week in particular can be full of unpredictability.  Say, for instance, that your dog is not showing that they’re properly house-trained yet, and so you’ll need to really keep an eye on them to make sure there aren’t lots of accidents taking place inside.

    #3: Get All Your Supplies Ready in Advance

    We strongly urge you to make sure that all of your dog’s supplies are already in the home, where they’re going to stay, before your furry friend arrives.  This means having their food bowl and water bowl ready to go in the kitchen, toys and beds ready for them, a leash, and the food that you’re going to be giving them.

    This is important for a couple of key reasons such as: 

    • Obviously, you don’t want to be without the things that they need once they’re home – like not having food, or a leash when you’re ready to take them out.  
    • Besides that, the sooner your house is set up with all of your dog’s belongings, the sooner they can get used to their new environment.  The less change that takes place in the home after they arrive, the better.

    #4: Make Sure Your Children Know How to Treat a New Dog

    If you’ve children, it’s very important to prepare them ahead of time for their new furry friend’s arrival.  This means teaching them how to treat a dog – especially one that is likely to be scared at first.  A dog who is in a new home is more likely to get overwhelmed by very energetic children, and may even feel threatened by them, which could lead to some aggressive behaviors.  Teach your children how to be around a new dog without unintentionally feeding into the dog’s fear response, because even the most well-meaning children can accidentally make a dog feel even more uneasy.  

    #5: Make Sure Your Other Pets are Healthy

    If you have other pets at home, then you’ll want to make sure that they’re up to date on their shots, and that they’re generally healthy.   The best thing to do is take them to the vet about a week or so before bringing home your new dog.  While we always hope it isn’t the case, there are times when we discover that our new pet actually does have some type of health problem, which could be spread to the other animals living with us.

    #6: Do a Gradual Introduction to Other Pets in the House

    In the event that you do have other pets in the house, it’s very important that you go about introducing them to your new dog in the right manner.  Dogs and cats are both pretty territorial creatures, and they may see your new dog as a threat, while your new dog may very well fear them.  Because of that, we urge you that during the first few days especially, you never leave your dog and your other pet together unattended.

    Ideally, you should first bring your dog into one room in the home, and also allow them to feel safe in there before allowing them to meet the other pets.  During this time, you should “exchange smells”.  Take a toy or blanket that your new dog is interacting with, and after a day, switch it with a toy or blanket that your other pet is interacting with.  This way, your two pets are familiarizing themselves with the scent of the other, to begin to get used to the fact that there’s another animal in the house.

    After a couple of days to a week, depending on the temperaments of all pets involved, you can use a gate or a crate to allow the pets to see each other, without the risk of aggression.  When allowing them to see each other, consider doing this during feeding time, play time, or treat time, so that they associate seeing one another with an activity that they love.  Once it’s clear that the two pets are comfortable with the presence of the other, you can begin to allow them to interact, supervised, so that they can start building their relationship with one another.

    #7: Keep to a Routine

    From the moment your new dog arrives, you’ll want to really stick to a daily routine.  The sooner you do this, the more comfortable your dog will feel, as a strict routine means predictability, which is what dogs crave in order to feel at ease.  Feed your new dog at the same time every day, take them outside at the same times, play with them at the same times, and so on.  If you’re able to stick to a routine of your own, even better, since dogs are very observant, and the more consistent their environment, the more settled they’ll feel.  

    #8: Start Training Right Away

    If you’re able to, start training your dog right away.  Even the most well-behaved new dog isn’t used to your rules, and that’s not their fault.  If you’re a first-time dog owner, you’ll want to do some research about how to train a dog before they arrive, so that once they’re in your home, you’ll be able to get started immediately.  The sooner you begin to train them, the more likely the training is to stick with them.  Again, consistency is everything when it comes to dogs, and if you let certain things slide early on, that can send mixed messages to them that last for a long time.

    #9: Keep the Home Calm

    Yes, a calm home is a safe home, as far as your canine is concerned.  Especially while they’re getting adjusted to their new environment, you’ll want to aim to keep the house as calm as possible.  This means minimizing loud noises, and not making any big changes to the house too early on, like replacing furniture, rearranging rooms, or taking on complex projects.  Encourage everyone in your house to be conscientious of this, and if you have young children, try to discourage them from any particularly aggressive forms of play, which can confuse a new dog and overstimulate them.

    #10: Prepare a Doggie “Safe Space”

    Dogs are naturally prone to hiding when they feel unsafe, which is a survival instinct that dates back to long before they were domesticated.  And, it makes perfect sense – we all have an urge to retreat and hide when we feel threatened in some way.  So, give your dog the safe space that they crave by creating an area in the home that can be their sanctuary, such as an enclosed bed, or a larger closet outfitted with comfy blankets on the floor.  

    #11: Hold Off on Houseguests

    Whenever a loved one brings home a new furry friend, it’s natural for friends and family to want to meet the new addition to the family as soon as possible.  But, we actually encourage you to wait about a week or so before bringing any guests into the home.  This can confuse your new dog, who is still trying to develop an understanding of the environment and who inhabits it.  And, houseguests can end up overstimulating your dog’s nervous system, which can lead to unwanted behaviors.

    #12: Think About Getting a Crate

    Many dogs do best with a crate for nighttime when they’re first adjusting to their new house.  While a crate may seem like a prison to your eyes, it can actually act as their safe space, where they feel secure, and don’t have to worry about any predators getting inside.  And, this way, you know that they aren’t causing chaos in your home while you’re sleeping.  Just make sure that it’s a crate large enough that they can stand up in there comfortably, and spread out if they want to.

    #13: Correct Behaviors Consistently and Follow Positive Reinforcement

    As soon as your new dog engages in some inappropriate behavior, correct it through healthy disciplinary techniques.  The sooner you correct bad behavior, the sooner it will stop.  On the other end of the token, make sure to reward your dog for good behavior through treats and other forms of positive reinforcement.

    #14: Offer Enrichment Throughout the Home

    Dogs need to be mentally and physically stimulated throughout the day, or else they can get anxious, depressed, aggressive, and destructive.  Make sure that you have plenty of ways to keep them entertained, like interactive toys, treat puzzles, and access to windows that allow them to look outside and watch rodents and birds.

    #15: Bring Them to the Vet

    It’s important to get your new dog set up for a vet visit shortly after bringing them home, assuming they weren’t taken right before they were adopted, to make sure that they’re healthy, and don’t have any special needs that you need to be on top of.  Of course, if you notice anything concerning when they first arrive, bring this up with the veterinarian.

    Bonus: Introduce Them to CBD

    Ultimately, we cannot 100% guarantee that a new dog will feel comfortable in their new home right away.  But, what we can do is support their nervous system so that they are less likely to be excessively anxious.  CBD is a great way to offer them natural relief from stress and uneasiness, as this natural cannabinoid regulates nervous system function to promote soothing effects without causing any intoxication.  Studies show that dogs who are administered CBD are less reactive to loud noises, indicating a real, meaningful effect on their stress and anxiety levels.

    Your Dog’s New Home Should Be a Safe, Happy, and Comfortable One to Live in

    When it comes to bringing a new dog home, there are all kinds of things that you need to take care of ahead of time, from setting up their supplies to clearing your schedule.  And, that’s just the beginning of the process of getting them familiarized with your family, routine, and layout of your dwellings.  But, luckily, too, a bit of CBD can go a long way in keeping their nervous system calmer throughout the entire experience.  

    Chills Paws supplies a nice variety of CBD-infused products made just for dogs, including CBD oils and CBD treats that’re easy to administer, and come in delicious flavors that appeal to canines.  Our products are lab-tested, all-natural, and are renowned for their effectiveness.  

    So, if you have a new pooch coming into your home, consider giving them a daily serving of CBD as part of their new regimen, in order to help aid in the adjustment process.

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