Picking the perfect pet and introducing a new dog into a family can be a challenging undertaking. The simple steps outlined here show how to achieve the best possible match and happiness for all when you pick and introduce a new dog into your family.

How to Pick a New Dog

Pack unity is highly important, so before even considering what kind of dog you want, it is imperative for your family to agree that everyone wants a dog. If, for example, your wife wants a dog, but you don’t, it is best not to go ahead as the dog will otherwise be the so-called ‘pig in the middle’ – and he will know that he is not fully wanted, which could cause him (and your family) a great deal of distress. This distress could in turn result in your dog becoming anxious, fearful and even aggressive, which, of course, is the last thing you want.

Once your family agrees that everybody wants a dog, make sure all members of the family know what being a responsible pet owner means. Making sure your dog gets vet care and good training, providing him with regular, daily exercise and cleaning up after your best friend are essential. Love will not take the dog out a 05:00 in the morning, you will, so do make sure the whole family knows what to expect.

The following steps will help you find the prefect dog for your family once you are ready to do so:

  1. Dogs come in four levels of energy, very high, high, medium and low, and the way to get a good match is to pick a dog with an energy level close (equal or lower) to that of your family, so make sure to carefully and honestly assess your family’s overall energy level.

Does your family, for instance, enjoy hiking and camping at the weekend or do you prefer lounging on the couch watching movies? Puppies tend to be high/very high energy, so while getting one may sound like a wonderful idea, it is best to really think this through.

  1. Learning how to correctly assess your selected dog’s energy is important when trying to pick the right pet for your family. The “No touch, No Talk, No Eye-Contact” rule is a great way to meet a new dog, as it allows a dog to meet you in his natural way – and how a dog moves is always a good tell of his energy:

Very jumpy, excited dogs and/or dogs who simply can’t stop moving are typically high/very high energy. A quick body generally equals a quick, exited mind. Such a dog will do best in an active home where lots of exercise can be provided. If a high energy dog doesn’t get sufficient exercise, he can easily become bored – and boredom is usually the start of a whole range of issues.

A dog who calmly keeps his distance from you on your first meeting is actually being respectful. This is a good start, because while it may look like he doesn’t like you, dogs who are respectful from the beginning often make the best, most enjoyable companions.

A dog who is in a nervous/retreat state of mind will need a very patient, calm and mellow owner with the willingness and time to help his dog become more confident. Type A (high energy) personalities can all too easily become frustrated with a dog like this – which in turn will make the dog even more insecure.

  1. Shelters and rescue centres have dogs of every age and type there is. Enter “rescue”, the breed you are looking for and your area into Google and several options near you should come up. There are usually descriptions and, when dogs are in foster homes, there may also be detailed descriptions on behaviours (i.e. how they get on with kids, other dogs and cats).

Take the time to meet plenty of dogs. When you think you have discovered “The One”, setting up a foster to adopt arrangement is the best way to find out if and how the match will work out.

How to Introduce a New Dog into Your Family

Having picked your dog, follow the steps below to successfully introduce him to his new home and family:

  1. Before taking your new dog into your home, it is best to take him for a good, very long walk, bike ride or run, as this will help him to burn up any pent-up/nervous energy from the rescue centre/shelter, as well as helping to build his trust in you.
  2. After your walk, bring him indoors on a leash and take him straight out to his assigned ‘bathroom spot’. If he ‘goes’ there, praise him a bit, then walk him around ‘his new garden/yard’ on the leash.
  3. Keeping him on the leash, bring him back inside and walk him around the living room, then put him into another room (i.e. the laundry or other spare room) or a covered crate; give him water and food and ignore him.
  4. A couple of hours later, take him for another walk and another visit to the garden/yard, then put him back into the crate/spare room. Repeat this process for a few days to help him unwind and decompress.

This is important, because let’s face it: first, he’s been put into a car with a bunch of excited strangers cooing and fussing over him. Then he is brought into a strange new home he has never seen or smelled only to find more excited people grabbing at him for another spot of cooing and fussing. For a dog who has just met you and has yet to learn that he can trust you, this is somewhat of an overwhelming message to cope with.

The main thing is to make the experience as calm and relaxing for your dog as possible by keeping things mellow for at least the first few days. He will soon tell you his feelings about his new family and home. It is great if he relaxes quickly and enjoys interaction with you and the rest of the family, but it is equally ok if he appears to be a little unsure or uncertain to begin with – he will just need a little more time to get adjusted. Be patient and take your time with him – this is, after all, a life-long commitment for both of you.

Get Expert Advice & Help

Previous experiences can sometimes leave a dog feeling stressed and anxious. This stress and anxiety can lead to behavioural problems owners may find difficult to correct even with all the love and patience they can possibly muster.

If your new dog is displaying signs of stress/anxiety, I can help him overcome these issues and lead a happy life as a member of your ‘pack’. Call me on 07776761289 or contact me online today to learn more, ask for advice and/or make an appointment.