Introducing a new puppy to new situations and family members is a big challenge, one that more than 3.2 million new lockdown puppy owners are getting to grips with. Research by Natures Menu reveals that 22 per cent of new puppy owners have found looking after their pup more difficult than they thought.
Expert dog trainer, Sarah Parker, who specialises in training assistance dogs, shares her top tips for ensuring new situations and rendezvous go as well as possible for both the newbies and the oldies of the pack.
Introduce new surroundings, then your other animals
When introducing your new companions to new people and new surroundings, one of the first essential steps is to temporarily remove any dogs from the home. The introduction process is very intense for new dogs, especially puppies, so establishing their arrival with family members and the house should be prioritised first. Only when the new dog is comfortable with this, should the introduction of other dogs be considered.
Try instantly socialising with children
For a lot of children, there is nothing more exciting than a new puppy; that is why it is good practice to make sure children are properly briefed on how to behave with new dogs. One thing to make clear: make sure that you put your hand out to the new dog and let them come to you. Overly excited petting and cuddling from the get-go is a fast route to scaring a new pup, and often can revert the whole process back to the start. Another little tip is to make sure that all people in the room are sitting down on the floor, just to make every person less intimidating for your new furry friend.
Create a safe and rewarding space
Make sure that your new pup has a space it can call its own and fill it with blankets, cushions and their toys – everything that will indicate to them that it’s a safe place for them to retreat to if they’re feeling anxious at any point. Also, presenting them with these as gifts can be seen as rewarding good behaviour, welcoming them into the family and reinforcing positivity around the first meeting.
Reintroduce to the other dogs
A few days into your new pups’ new life, other dogs can slowly start to be introduced back into the home. A good method is to let the dogs sniff and say hello whilst the family pup is still caged in a carrier or a pen – this is the best way to keep a new pup relaxed and reduce anxiety for all parties. Once all the positive signs are there, such as licking, sniffing and play, then you can introduce closer contact, but make sure you keep them on leads so that you can control it as best you can. Do keep a watchful eye for the first few days.
Look for negative signs and give reassurance and cuddles!
Throughout the whole process, make sure you have a watchful eye on your new pooch, and look out for the obvious indications that they are feeling sad or anxious. Look out for signs like floppy ears, crying, a low or tucked tail and if they try and scurry away and hide in a corner of the room. If that happens, approach slowly and gently give them a pet or a soft cuddle and reassure them with a calming voice. In the first few weeks, they need to know they are loved more than anything else – do this, and eventually your dog will give you love back by the bucket load!
Remember, the dog is never at fault. Give them time
Most bad behaviours can be ironed out in the first few months, but it is of paramount importance to know that, as a dog owner, controlling your dog’s behaviour is your responsibility. Give your new friend as much time as possible to get used to how everything works in your home and go through all the stages above as slowly as you need – patience is key!