Home is where we all feel safest. A haven for every member of the family, you style your space to make sure it’s an environment designed for relaxation. As man’s best friend, our dogs deserve to feel just at home as each human member of the family.
Whether you’re bringing home a puppy for the first time, introducing a new dog to the rest of your household or creating a forever home for a loving rescue dog – with the help of Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity – we’ve put together our top tips to help your pooch feel safe and happy with its new family.
Welcome a Puppy
If you read our article about things to consider when rehoming a dog, you’ll know that we (and Dogs Trust) always advise you do your research when you’re looking for a new puppy. Firstly, there are thousands of dogs in rehoming centres across the country who are looking for a forever home, so please always consider rehoming a rescue dog. If you decide to get a pup from a breeder, choose a reputable breeder, never an online source. Make sure you don’t ever feel rushed into a sale and always ask to see the pup interacting with its mum and littermates.
Once you’ve found that perfect pup for you and your family, you’re sure to be counting down the weeks until he or she is ready to come and live with you. Here’s how to get your home ready for the little bundle of four-legged fluff:
Make your mind up and stick with it!
Choose your pup’s new name and be consistent so they’ll learn it more quickly. Making other key decisions ahead of bringing the dog into your home can mean training will run more smoothly. Is the dog sleeping downstairs? Will it be allowed on the furniture? Set off on the right foot from day one to avoid confusing the puppy – it’s early days and he or she has a lot to learn.
Help your puppy settle on a night
The nights can feel lonely for a little pup who’s used to being surrounded by his or her littermates. Leave a blanket or clothing item that smells of you, along with a warm (not hot!) hot water bottle to help soothe the puppy in those first few weeks. Another trick is to leave a ticking clock nearby to replicate the sound of a heartbeat to make the little guy feel less alone.
Meet other dogs
If your new addition won’t be the first dog in your home, you might be apprehensive about how the new dog will get on with the current residents. Making sure all your canine family members are happy and content is sure to be your first priority. Taking a few steps to ensure the transition goes smoothly can be key to a successful introduction.
Make introductions and observe
It’s a good idea to make introductions in a neutral place. Your current dog(s) sees your house as its territory so it’s best to have the new dog say hello for the first time outside of the home environment. Keep a close eye on each dog’s body language so you can be prepared to react quickly to any signs of distress, hostility or aggression. Try taking the dogs for a short walk together around your local area before bringing them into your home together for the first time.
Give each dog their own space
For the first few weeks you’ll want to make sure you supervise all interactions between the new dog and existing canine residents. For nights and times when you can’t be around, it’s a good idea to make sure each pooch has a little safe haven of their own for when it all gets a bit much. As the relationship between them blossoms, you can start to leave them together for longer, unsupervised periods.
Rehome a rescue dog
Giving a forever home to a rescue dog is rewarding in so many ways. Dogs Trust alone take care of 15,000 dogs of all shapes and sizes and will never put a healthy dog to sleep. That means the dogs stay in their care until they find their perfect home. Many of these dogs come to a Dogs Trust rehoming centre through no fault of their own and have lots of love to give to their new families. Preparing your home for the arrival of a rescue dog can need a little more consideration – here are our top tips.
Make them feel safe
With a rescue dog you’ll never know exactly what experience they’ve had in previous homes. Feeling safe and secure is the key to happiness for these pooches. Along with establishing a routine to help with the transition, a little patience will go a long way. A whole new environment and lots of new people can cause stress – and any housetraining they may have had might quickly be forgotten. With time, training and lots of TLC, your new best friend should learn the new rules in no time.
Take it slow
Whilst you can start training straight away, the whole experience can be overwhelming for a rescue dog. Make sure that you limit visitors for a few days and encourage everyone in the home to act calmly, be gentle and respect the space of your new family member. As the dog starts to feel safe he or she will start to shine and you’ll get to see their whole personality. During this time you can get to know each other really well, observing their likes and dislikes and building up the bond that makes dogs man’s best friend. Rehoming centres like Dogs Trust spend lots of time getting to know their four-legged residents, and really working out the perfect home for them – so don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions!
Every dog deserves to feel at home on a sofa they love
If you’re thinking about adding a dog to your family, visit dogstrust.org.uk/rehoming to find out more about rehoming a rescue dog.