Acclimating Your New Puppy or Dog

Acclimating your new puppy or dog

By Tami Foster

How do I make the homecoming as smooth as possible for me and my new canine family member?

First thing to realize is this scarred dog or puppy is getting adjusted to all new smells, sounds, new people and you don’t speak their language.  So for the initial 24-72 hours, just make sure your new family member is eating and drinking.  Nutri-Cal or Nutri-Stat is necessary to help with energy, nerves and keep the appetite up.  If your dog throws up, give them Nutri-Stat or Cal.  If they are not eating give them Nutri-Stat or Cal.  If they are not drinking, then add some milk to a little water, or try some sweet tea added to the water or even a little pancake syrup.  But won’t the milk give them diarrhea you ask ?  No, not a little added to the water;  all you are doing is trying to make the liquid a little more enticing.  The syrup or tea is just keeping their sugar levels up and this will help with their appetite. You dog is in worse shape if they get dehydrated.  They need fluid. I am not advocating sugar all the time for your dog.  This is just if you are having problems getting them to drink in their initial new home acclimation.

Beside the Nutri-Stat or Cal you can always try a soft scrambled egg, a little cheese or some chicken.  Dogs are protein eaters.  They need protein to exist. I am not trying to tell you their consistent diet should be milk and cheese.  These are just suggestions of items to use to initially get your puppy or dog to have some nutrients in their system while trying to acclimate to their new home.  Always keep fresh clean filtered water available and a bowl of dry dog food for your pet to have access to 24 hours a day. They may drink water or snack on dry food when you are asleep or not at home.  They may be on a slightly different schedule than you. 

I send dogs to their new home with something that smells like their old home, me and any other dogs from their prior home.  Dogs depend much more on their sense of smell than we do as humans. A human has 5 million olfactory (scent) receptors and a dog based on breed size has anywhere from 125 million to 300 million olfactory receptors.  This gives your canine companion anywhere from 25 to 60 percent more scent receptors than you.  You also have to realize that they have 40 percent more of their brain dedicated to scent than we do.  Take these factors and add them up and scientist tell us that their sense of smell is at least 1,000 times more powerful than ours as humans.  Scientist also tell us that the sense of smell is the longest lasting of our senses. 

If you have toys or bedding for your dog that you have already purchased, take them with you to pick them up and make sure they have the scent of their prior home on them. This powerful sense of smell will be soothing to them.

Once the dog is eating, drinking and has a lay out of their new home, then you can work on potty training.  Don’t start off with a lot of no this and no that.  Let them settle in during that first 24-72 hours and then work on a eating, peeing, playing and sleeping schedule.  Try to keep them close to their feeding and sleeping schedule as your breeder had them on.  Adjust these in increments.  Use the same food as your dog has been eating.  I even send a gallon of my water with my puppies to help initially keep as much the same to they have one less transition.

I recommend getting your dog when you have time off work, like the weekend if you have it off.  Plan an extra day off work to help with the adjustment.  If possible, take your lunch break at home that first week or two to check on your dog, let them go outside for a potty break, make sure they are eating and not getting into trouble.

Here is where I like to mention limiting their space until they are on a schedule.  I do not , yes, DO NOT recommend crate training.  Let me explain this.  You can have a crate with the door off or open if it is not removable.  But your dog should not be locked into a crate for long lengths of time.  I use open crates to sleep or take a treat into, or to get out of the way.  Of course, crates can be necessary for transporting safely, vet visits and even short periods of time out.  A crate is not enough space to keep a dog in.  Give your dog a hallway, laundry room, bathroom or a baby gate across an opening to create a limited space.  Give your dog an open crate to get in if wanted, a bed, food and water and a pee pad, along with some toys.  This gives them a space of their own.  If they have an accident it is limited to that space and they have not been stuck in a kennel or crate where they now have their business all over them and are upset about the situation.  You can create a neurotic dog keeping them in a kennel or crate and no way to go somewhere to take care of business.

Even the best trained dog will have accidents when getting acclimated to a new home and schedule.  You need to expect this and plan for it and you will be less stressed.  This will pass if you are diligent in your schedule.  It is just like potty training a child.  The moms that think of nothing but potty training for at least 2 weeks and are absolutely diligent in their consistency have children that are potty trained in no time at all and do not revert.  The moms that start and stop and don’t stay with it consistently take forever to train their children.  It is the same with your canine companion; if you are on a schedule and consistent with that schedule you will see the pay off, if you are lax then you will have problems and it is your fault not the dog’s. 

Let me relay some examples:

One couple got a Maltese from me that was 14 weeks old.  He was using the doggy door to go potty here for several weeks.  They were in an apartment, so it was necessary to take the Maltese outside.  They were having a problem in the morning before the husband would wake up.  The dog slept in their room, but was not going to the bathroom in their room.  He was going out of the bedroom, down the hall and in the den in usually 2 specific spots.  I said wait a minute, this is happening just before your husband gets up.  The wife confirmed this.  O.K., for starters have your husband set the alarm for a little earlier to take the dog out.  Also, I conveyed to them that the dog was not relieving himself just any and everywhere.  He was trying to get as far away and as close to the outside as possible.  He was not going in the bedroom or the hall or in their son’s room.  He was trying to get outside.  Put a pee pad where he was going was another help.  But I suggested not allowing him to get out of the bedroom, setting the alarm earlier as I stated and that should have him make enough noise to alert them to wanting to get out.  They would probably have some accidents in the bedroom, but the dog would fuss to get out.  Some dogs will have an accident and then fuss.  They know not to go inside but didn’t know how to communicate that to you.  They then get upset, you wake up and then everyone is upset.  If you take them outside and show them the alternative they will get the concept.  Never correct after the fact.  You only correct if you catch your dog while doing wrong.  Dogs live in the moment.  Always offer the correct option to them and they will pick up on this.

Another example is of a dad saying the dog was going to the bathroom in the house at night.  I asked if the dog did this during the day or while they were awake.  He relayed that it was only at night.  I asked where the dog slept and when.  The dad explained that the dog went to bed with his daughter and she went to bed at 8:00 p.m.  I saw the problem, it was the human’s fault not the dog’s.  This was a 12 week old puppy.  He could not hold it that long.  I asked the dad what time he went to bed and he said 11:00 p.m.  I mentioned to him that he probably went to the bathroom himself before he went to bed.  He responded that” yes he did”.  I said “take the dog outside before you go to bed”.  He replied that the dog was asleep.  I told him to wake the dog up and take him outside and he would go.  The dog wasn’t being bad.  The dog knew how to go outside to potty.  The dog did go outside to potty, he just couldn’t hold it from 8:00 p.m. until morning. 

Most of the time when you are having a potty training problem or accidents it is the fault of the human not an intentional bad behavior of the dog.  Even adult dogs will have to go outside during the night.  They are like us, they are all different.  Some people sleep through the night while others get up to go to the bathroom. 

One basic rule on potty training is that a puppy has weak bladder control and a short attention span. Figure a puppy at 3 months of age can hold it for about 3 hours and that gets longer as the puppy gets older. 

Will my new dog sleep with me?

Most puppies will happily sleep with you.  They are used to being with their mom and siblings and snuggling with them.  They can hear your heart beat which can be soothing to them.  There are pillows out there that simulate a heartbeat.  They are battery operated inside a pillow.  This can ease sleeping, if your puppy sleeps alone.  If you don’t want your puppy or dog in the actual bed with you, then place their bed beside your bed.  They are still near you and can wake you up if they need to go outside during the night.  Any new puppy or dog should be worked with for at least 2 weeks consistently before you can expect them to start getting the schedule down.  When you start a new job it usually takes a couple of weeks to figure out the lay of the land and the schedule and what is expected of you.  And at a new job they speak the same language as you.  Wouldn’t you expect this new home for you dog where they don’t speak your language will take a couple of weeks to get comfortable with?  Some dogs and puppies acclimate instantly, others take some time.  Most toy breed dogs live an average of 15-17 years.  So really how much of a problem is a couple of weeks of patience and working on a consistent schedule worth to you and your pet to initially get  acclimated when that companion will be with you for years to come?  It’s all about investment and what that investment is worth to you.  A dog is a family member and a great companion for life.  The investment you put into that companion will pay off in ways too numerous to mention. And the worth of a Precious Pampered Companion is immeasurable!

Tami Foster

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