When you’re welcoming a new pet into your home, the changes you’ve got to make can feel pretty seismic. Many people think they can just get a pet without altering their lifestyle at all, but this simply isn’t the case. Even the most docile and friendly dogs require a fundamental shift in the way you think about life, but the resulting change to your quality of life is well worth it. If you’re a new dog owner, you’re probably going to need all the help you can get in the beginning, so here are some of our top tips for people welcoming new best friends into their lives.
Make your environment as calming as possible
However stressed you are, your dog is likely to be just as baffled by their new environment. It’s a good idea to create as calming and welcoming a space for your friend as possible. Research by online casino site Betway suggests that the best way to do this would be to play calming music for your dog, or perhaps to play some TV shows like Friends or Bridgerton. Having something on in the background can really help your dog to acclimatise to their new surroundings.
Take your dog out for walks
Walking your dog isn’t just beneficial for their physical health (although this is an extremely important element of taking your dog out for walks). You’re also familiarising your friend with their new home; they’ll be able to take in the regular sights and sounds of the place and get to know some of the things that they could hear and see in the future. The more you take them out, the more they’ll feel at home in their new place, so try to make time for two walks every day (although you should work to your dog’s schedule, of course).
Establish rules and reinforce them
Dogs, unlike other animals, can be trained, so if there are any rules within your household that you want to lay down, it’s important to establish them early on. Positive reinforcement is more important by far than negative; don’t punish your dog if they don’t do what you want, but do reward them if they obey. By associating desirable behaviour with treats, you’re instilling an idea in your dog that they’ll get treats if they do what you want, and they’re more likely to repeat that behaviour as a result.
Socialise your dog
Some dogs are very nervous around new people, and that’s often understandable. If they come from shelters, for instance, or environments where new people provided reasons to be scared, then they may associate new people with fear or anxiety. However, it’s important to socialise your dog with all the people they may meet in future. Even if your dog is an adult, it’s not too late; invite friends over, be mindful of the noise levels, and create an environment in which your dog can feel both relaxed and stimulated.
Keep your dog’s mind active
It’s just as important to make sure that your dog is mentally stimulated as it is to ensure that they’re getting regular exercise. By keeping your dog’s mind sharp, you’ll increase the chances of staving off dementia or other mental deterioration, and you’ll improve the chances of your dog responding to training as well. Try setting your dog very simple challenges to earn food, like having to retrieve it from a toy. You could also try apps or games that are designed for dogs (there are plenty out there!).
One of the most important characteristics in dog owners is patience. Your dog may not immediately take to training schedules, and they may not instantly exhibit behaviour you want them to exhibit. That’s okay; you need to remember that a dog is an animal, not a human, and that their behaviour and mental processes work differently to yours. Exhibit patience, don’t get angry with your dog, and make sure to always reward them when they do something you want. Eventually, you’ll be rewarded.
Understand your dog’s specific needs
There’s a chance that your dog may simply not be the kind of animal that responds well to other dogs. If this is the case, then it’s not worth trying to force the issue. Don’t make your dog spend time around other dogs if they don’t want to. You’ll just cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. Instead, understand that each dog has specific and unique needs, and that what works for one dog may not work for another. Eventually, you’ll come to understand your friend on an instinctual level.
Communicate with your dog often
One of the best ways you can stimulate your dog’s imagination is to constantly communicate with them. This might have the added adorable benefit of seeing your friend use the head tilting motion many dogs exhibit when they’re trying to understand something, which never fails to be delightful. Learn to read and interpret your dog’s methods of communication and respond to them as often as you can. This will help to raise a healthy, inquisitive, and engaged pet.
Give your dog space if they want it
As a new dog owner, it can be tempting to want to flood your dog with love and affection. However, there may be times when this simply isn’t what your dog wants. It’s a good idea to learn to read the signals your dog is giving off; if they want pets or affection, they’ll tell you, and if they don’t, they’ll tell you that as well. If your dog has wandered off to be on their own, don’t bother them. They’ll seek you out when they want your company!