New dog list: 6 tasks you can do in the first week

It’s official: Australia has among the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, according to the Choosi Pet Report 2017. In fact, we love our furry friends so much that 93% of respondents to the Choosi report believe pets should be treated with the same love and kindness as other family members.

Our love for our furry friends means that thousands of us will be welcoming a new dog into our home this year. Whether you’re rescuing a mature dog, or bringing home a new puppy, bringing a new dog into your home is a wonderful experience that should make your household a happy place! Bear in mind though that the needs of a mature dog and a puppy could vary, so take that into account, particularly when it comes to introducing the pooch to small children or other animals.

The first week is the most important for acclimating your pet into their new world, so it’s essential that you take care of these six important tasks in the first week.

1. Keep your house quiet to reduce the dog’s stress

Whether you’re bringing home a young puppy or adopting an older dog, remember that everything familiar to you, won’t be to them. You can help reduce their stress levels by promoting a quiet, safe space at home.

Turn off the TV and stereo (or at least lower their volumes) and keep any other pets you have outside or separated in a different room. Toddlers and young children can also be scary to a new dog, so introduce them slowly and preferably in a neutral area like the backyard.

2. Introduce your new dog to their crate and room

Crate training isn’t for every dog-owner, but it can be an effective training tool, especially for young puppies. Whether it’s a crate, a bed, or a dedicated room for your new dog, introduce them to their space and allow them the freedom to get familiar with their surroundings.

Again, it’s important that you take your time, go with the flow, and follow your puppy’s lead. If they’re agitated and want to go somewhere else, let them. Likewise, if they plop down on their bed and want to go to sleep, let them do that. There will be time for introductions and exploring later when their stress levels are a little lower, and their curiosity and excitement levels are higher.

3. Reinforce good behaviour at all times

Punishing a new dog in the first week can lead to heightened anxiety and stress, and positive versus negative training has been found to lessen stress in dogs, according to a small study in discipline-based training. However, that doesn’t mean you should let a new dog in the house, whether a puppy or mature dog, get away with bad behaviour like biting or chewing. You’ll be sorry you didn’t take action sooner when they’re bigger and those playful bites start to really hurt!

The key is positive reinforcement and reward-driven training. Even more important is praising good behaviour at mealtime so your new dog doesn’t get a complex and become protective of their food.

4. Be prepared for crying and toilet accidents

No pet is perfect, and even an adult dog may have an accident in the first week or so. It’s crucial that you stay calm when these little accidents happen, and also attend to your dog if they’re whining or crying; especially overnight.

5. Help them be comfortable when they’re alone

It’s recommended that you don’t leave your new dog alone for extended periods during their first week at home, and if you’re lucky enough to work somewhere that offers pawternity leave, then we recommend you take it!

But eventually your new dog will need to be okay being left alone, especially if you work full-time and will have to leave them outside most of the day. Train them (in small increments at first) to be calm and comfortable by themselves. Leave them outside and praise them when they’re calm — reward-driven training is ideal here.

Over time, you’ll find that your puppy is happy to entertain themselves, as long as they have adequate room to play and toys to keep their minds stimulated. It’s much harder to ‘train out’ poor behaviours from a dog with separation anxiety.

6. Take your dog to the vet

In your first week, you may also need to take your new dog to the vet. In addition to a general check-up, your vet will be able to:

  • Vaccinate: Puppies need lots of vaccines in their first months of life. Older dogs also still need yearly vaccinations to stay up-to-date.
  • Microchip: If your pet isn’t already microchipped, your vet will be able to take care of this easily.
  • Desex: Your vet will explain when it’s the right age for your puppy to be desexed.
  • Clarify your breed’s health expectations: Some dog breeds are more prone to certain illness and other health conditions compared to others.
  • Explain worming treatments: Your vet will likely recommend that you keep your pet healthy with regular flea, tick, worming, and heartworm treatments, which are sold over the counter at all good pet stores.

It’s also worth considering getting pet insurance for your new dog in order to cover vet bills, especially if your new dog is still young and therefore less likely to have any pre-existing conditions, which means you can have them covered against most common ailments and potential injuries.

Your new dog’s first week at home will be full of ups and downs, but you can make their experience as comfortable as possible by ensuring you tick off these simple tasks.

Now that you’re a responsible pet-owner, it’s time to consider your pet insurance options. Use Choosi to see what’s on the market and find the right provider for your pooch’s needs.