Anytime you add a new dog or puppy, whether from a responsible breeder or a local shelter or rescue, there will be a period of adjustment. This is of course more complicated if you already have a dog (or two) at home. These tips are applicable to bringing home a foster dog as well as a newly adopted dog.
One of the first steps is to avoid adding a new canine companion right in the middle of a big holiday season or other celebration. At those times, your family and home are very busy, very exciting and very likely would be overwhelming to a new family member. Choose a time when life will be quiet and you can devote a couple of days to helping the newcomer settle in.
If you already have a dog, it would be best to have the dogs meet on neutral ground. That might be outdoors in the yard with both on a loose lead or even at a local park. This keeps the original dog from feeling that he is losing his place.
Within the house, it is important that any original dogs get to keep their favorite spots. A beloved bed, a private crate or even a favorite spot to lie down where the sun shines in on the floor, need to be kept for the older resident. The new resident will need plenty of extra help to feel comfortable but don’t ignore your older pets. Make an effort to give the older dog a bit of extra attention so he still feels special. Try to arrange your schedule so each dog gets some private time and attention.
If your current dog is a senior, he may not appreciate the energy and enthusiasm of a young puppy. Make sure he has places he can retire to – to escape any unwanted attention. Giving him some extra walks and play time would be a good idea too.
At the same time, you need to start establishing “places” for the new dog or puppy. Having a crate that the new dog can think of as “their own bedroom” is ideal. It is also a good idea to have separate food bowls and sometimes even water bowls for each dog. Crate training can be easily accomplished in a positive way – giving your new dog a safe, secure place to rest. Teoti Anderson’s book, Quick and Easy Crate Training is a wonderful resource. Other useful books include Second Hand Dog by Carol Benjamin and Successful Dog Adoption by Susan Sternberg. Our local shelters all provide resource material when you adopt your new family member as well – Humane Society of Rome, Stevens Swan Humane Society, Herkimer County Humane Society, Wanderers Rest Humane Association and Rescue Me – Purebred K9 Rescue.
Many dogs will share toys but each dog may have private favorite toys. You may have to intercede occasionally to prevent any arguments over those – just like with small children! Certainly the first few days, maybe even weeks, will take some adjustment on the part of the whole family. Eventually though, you won’t be able to picture life without your new addition!