top of page

Bringing Home a New Dog

What do expect when you’re expecting… a new dog

Whatever your expectation is- take it down 10 notches. Just right away, slow your roll. The first thing here is patience. I absolutely promise you the dog you bring home is going to overwhelm you at first. You’re excited, they’re excited, they may be nervous, excited, or downright scared. All of these emotions are normal. Your dog may sleep a ton in the first few days or they may have no idea how to regulate their sleep at all and may be GO GO GO BITE GO GO GO BITE SLEEP (think puppies and adolescent dogs).

Either way, this will help you.

On the opposite end of this, you may bring home the most perfect dog. The rule of 3’s is real. Dr Karen London and Patricia McConnell coined this idea. This means you can expect your dog to acclimate to his or her new home in threes. 3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 months. 3 days is the detox period- your dog has absolutely no idea what’s going on, where he is, or what the deal is here. Decompression and mental and physical stimulation are most important here. At 3 weeks the dog can start to pick up on routines, and by 3 months the dog will know they are home. See more here: Looking for something relatable here to help you out? In the past 10 years i’ve fostered over 300 dogs so I promise i’ve got some early year anecdotes for you! I’ve had MULTIPLE (believe it or not) dogs jump directly on my counters- not like counter surfing, I mean jumping ON TOP of my counters. This has also happened various times on my kitchen table. I’ve had dogs sleep on top of their crate instead of in their crate. I’ve had a dog pee ON MY HEAD in my bed and multiple dogs pee in my bed. I’ve had dogs tear up my couch, break out of crates to the point where they seriously injure themselves and start fights with other dogs, and multiple dogs run through my screen door. My first foster broke my cats leg and put holes in a few dogs. My second foster bit someone on the way out of the boarding facility and then bit my mother the next day. Another foster hung from a tree outside my house for 45 minutes and I couldn’t get her off. Plenty have dug under my fence or jumped over. Fun times, y’all.

So i’m here to give you my advice so you can learn from my hundreds and hundreds of mistakes. Set your new dog up for success and give the dog freedoms as they deserve it.

People tend to go too fast and give way too much freedom way too quickly because they feel bad for the dog or because the dog seems perfect the first day. Trust me, they aren’t perfect, they will settle and change. It’s way easier to give MORE freedom as the dog deserves it versus taking away freedom the dog already has. That just isn’t fair.

Dogs think in pictures, so they get the “picture” of their environment, and when we change it up (aka bring them to a new house), we have to make sure that we are setting the dogs up for success and understanding where they are coming from.

My number one advice here is treat this new dog like a baby deer. You would not corner a baby deer, you would not give a bath to a baby deer the first week, you would not bring your baby deer to petsmart. You just wouldn’t. You may, on the other hand- leave a leash dragging from said baby or feral deer so that you can stop it hands off if it tries to run out the front door. You may throw treats far away from you and at the feral deer to show the deer you mean to be friends. You might just sit on the floor and just read a book with said deer to get it comfortable with you. You probably would be tempted to pet said feral deer if he came over to you and sniffed you, but then you wouldn’t, because you wouldn’t want to spook him. You might make a nice quiet area for the feral deer with some goodies and a bed and you probably wouldn’t bother him there. Maybe you would even just throw him treats for being in the quiet area. You might play soft music and have some calming scents. And then you may just get online and find yourself a deer specialist or to be more relevant here, a certified professional dog trainer (not just some joe schmo on the internet) and get some help. Watch your baby/feral deer (DOG) and see what they’re about in the first few weeks and then link up with someone specialized in the things you’re seeing. To set yourself up for success:

  • Expect your dog to counter surf. Get that shit off your counters. Don’t just push it aside and assume the dog can’t get to it. He can, and he will, and he will learn to do it again since it’s super self reinforcing- the dog gets something extra yummy every time he does it without you seeing!

  • Get a crate. Expect this will be a disaster. Expect your dog to scream and break out of the crate- be prepared not scared :) Read my crate training blog. Even the oldest dog should know that they have a safe place they can rely on to go when things get overwhelming.

  • Have a leash dragging from your dog at all times. Expect them to maybe chew this leash and have a few cheap extras laying around. This isnt the leash you’ll be using to take your dogs on walks, it’s just a house leash to teach the dog what is and what isn’t up in your house WITHOUT putting your hands near the pointy parts of the dog. See more here:

  • SMART X 50

  • SMART- see, mark, and reward training- what we really want is a relaxed dog that can take cues from the environment- we want laying down and being quiet to be a behavior that might get food, pets, or any reinforcement. Reinforce any type of calmer behavior. Ignore behaviors you don’t want, when the dog slows down, say yes, and throw treat. Reinforce 4 feet on the floor. Standing still is great. Don’t cue anything, just capture what behaviors you like, and reinforce them. This will make it so you don’t have to ask for behavior as much, you are teaching the dog to make decisions on their own and figure the world around them out on their own.

-Reinforcing relaxed behaviors- give toys and food and bones when the dog is lying down- this behavior will become more likely! Reinforcement drives behavior!


bottom of page