So You Brought Home a New Dog...Now What? [Tips for the Transition to Dog Ownership]
Hey BABE! So your new dog is making himself at home. Your days are filled with puppy playtime, naps and lots of puddles (among other things). Need some tips on how to make this transition as smooth as possible? Then this is the post for you!
Now I know you may be nervous, excited, a little anxious? But here is a reassuring thought: you are not the only one. Your new little fur baby is too. Not only do they have to get familiar with a new place filled with strange smells and objects, but they also need to get used to you. They no longer have their littermates or mom or anything else familiar around them. Poor little floofy baby!
So consider the first couple of days as a time when you two are breaking the ice. And what do you do, BABE, when you first meet someone? Why you make sure you're on your best behavior! You don't let all that crazy out on new people. You want them to come back and hang around. So you tuck it in and put on your favorite lipstick. You throw on those killer heels (or Soludos) and stuff the looney toons down. Way, way down...for a while. A long, long, long while if you're anything like me.
With this in mind, know that your fur baby is probably not feeling 100% sure of himself right now. He's going to be a little subdued and cautious. He's got to get the lay of the land and the two-legged freak who keeps following him around with poop bags. So give him a break and keep things pretty calm. One of the things that will help your dog along is for you to set some boundaries. So let's talk rules.
Learning the Ropes
Whether you live in a McMansion or a studio apartment, your home is going to be a massive, unknown maze to a new dog. So it's a good idea to have some dog gates up around the place. Set a perimeter for your fur baby and all of their things. This will help their new home not to seem so scary and it's a good way to let them know what belongs to them. After all, they cannot mistake your collection for their squeaky toy collection if they cannot get to your closet. (Taps my forehead and winks...Strategery...)
On the Menu
You'll want to establish meal times with your dog. Regardless of whether you will be serving three meals or just one, make sure to feed your dog at the same time every day. This is equally important for your own sanity as well as your dog's.
I mean, first of all, you like to eat around the same time every day, right? I know I get downright mean if I miss my morning coffee. And everyone better scatter if I haven't eaten by 1pm. Your dog is no different. In fact certain breeds, like toy-sized dogs, may experience some negative health side effects if their meals are not spread throughout the day. So make sure breakfast, brunch, lunch, linner and/or dinner are all served on time.
Gotta Go Right Now [Housebreaking 101]
Scheduled meals will also help you when it comes to housebreaking. Plan on taking them out to potty about 20 minutes after every meal. It'll take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes after eating for your dog to be ready for a break. So if they don't go immediately when you take them to the designated area, be sure to bring them back about every five minutes or so until they do.
If you bring them outside, be sure that you don't start playtime until they've handled their business. They need to get use to the idea that after we eat, we potty. And only then does the fun begin.
If you break this rule be prepared to be outside for a long, confusingly frustrating amount of time. And if your dog is anything like my Paris, he may get into the habit of holding it for 20 to 30 minutes just to extend playtime. This is not ideal when you're trying to get out of the house for work in the mornings. Or in the rain. Or in the snow. Or on Saturday mornings. You get the point.
When housebreaking, keep in mind that it's YOUR full-time job to help your dog not have accidents. So get them on a potty break schedule and then keep it. In the beginning, you're going to be taking them to the bathroom pretty much every 45 minutes to an hour. But as they get used to the idea of where to go, they will start to give you signs. So be vigilant.
Not all dogs will bark or whine when it's time to use the bathroom. Coco will go to the back door and whine if I'm in another room. But if I'm in the same room, he'll sit quietly at the door and wait for me to notice.
On the other hand, Paris never barks for a break. When the mailman arrives? Bark City. But not for the potty. Instead, she makes a sudden, spastic dash for the back door and then runs in circles. That's her way of saying, "Chick you got two minutes or we're gonna have a problem."
So watch for tells and changes in behavior. If you pay attention, you're going to learn to recognize your dog's potty dance.
Another helpful housebreaking tip is to limit your dog's liquid intake; especially if you have a puppy. Do not, I repeat do not, leave water down all day for a puppy. If you choose to ignore this rule, then I hope you have tile flooring...everywhere. Puppies are like babies. They don't know they have to go until they are going. So if you leave water down all day long, I'll pray for you.
Finally, remember that your new dog is going to want to please you; even on day one. So have the treatos and party festivities ready every time they get the bathroom routine right. And I do mean every time. So as soon as they have done their business in the right place, you better break out the happy dog mom voice and the treats and the cuddles and anything else you've got. Just like all of us, our fur babies love a good bash. So party like it's 1999, BABE!
But Who Even Are You?
Out last topic today is your dog's personality. Like I said at the beginning of this post, your dog is going to be on his best behavior for a few days. But somewhere between day three and five, your dog is going to realize that this new place is home and you are mom. And when they do, a lot of dogs are going to throw a house party for one: themselves.
We are talking a newspaper shredding, tail chasing, zoom racing BARKfest. The more outgoing your dog's personality, the bigger the party. So don't freak out and think your dog is a complete spaz. They are just excited to be home! So turn up the music and join the celebration! After all, you just made the bestest best friend for life!