Greyhounds are "potato chip dogs." Everyone thinks they can have just one. But before long, most of us realize that we want to adopt or foster them all just like we want to eat the entire bag of chips. When you cave in, keep these tips in mind for introducing a new dog to your household so that your new BFF can make a greyt and lasting first impression!
Before the big day, even if you already have dogs, walk around your house and yard to inspect for any needed repairs. You may have done all this before, but subtle wear and tear over time can escape notice. Make sure your gate's self closing mechanism still works and that the fence is in good repair. Consider catching up on gardening to eliminate any hazards. Inside, think about the material things that are within dog reach. If destruction is not an option, find a safe, temporary storage area. Review how and where you store household chemical products. If the situation wouldn't be ok for a human child, it probably isn't ok for a dog either. Puppy proof everything.
Learn as much about your new dog as possible in advance. Find out if the dog has prior experience in a house. If so, quiz the foster parent about the home situation to identify potential challenges in your home. Be sure to ask about the dog's experiences with, and reactions to, kids, cats, small dogs and other people. If the dog has no house experience, consider extra precautions. For example, windows and screens look invisible to a dog who has never tried to run through one. Take a few minutes to put Post It Notes on each window at dog eye level to make sure your dog will see it as a barrier. If you have a screen door, use masking tape to make an X at an appropriate height. Consider reading up on stair training in case the dog has no idea what they are all about. Tie ribbon to potential obstacles outside (like potted plants and water meters) to make sure they are visible and to prevent high speed collisions.
Plan to spend a few days at home building a relationship, working on potty training and supervising interactions with other pets. Make sure you already have sufficient dog and human food, enough dog beds, new toys, extra leashes, extra water and food bowls, a crate if you will be crate training, ex pens, a muzzle for each dog, and maybe puppy pads. The most important thing to have before you pick up the new dog is an ID tag with your phone number and address. Put it on the dog's collar immediately. The first few days in a new home present the highest risk of escape because the dog is stressed and in unfamiliar surroundings. You can use an old tag if you're not yet sure what you will name your new fur baby.
Make introductions to other dogs in neutral territory on leash. Have a friend or family member walk your other dog to the neutral territory and then walk increasingly close together in the same general direction to avoid face-to-face confrontation. Remember to exude a confident air about you so that neither dog uses your anxiety as an excuse to act up. Let them take their time and get to know each other slowly. The time spent walking will relax the dogs and wear them out. Come home tired and spend a little time in the backyard exploring together. If you get the gift of an outdoor potty, praise like crazy because training has already started. Save roughhousing and full speed running for another day when the pup knows his way around better. If all is going well, perhaps allow a little off leash time. Err on the side of safety though and consider keeping all dogs muzzled until you are comfortable with their interactions. Click here for more tips on introducing dogs to each other.
Next, explore the inside of the house slowly on leash. Any areas where the dog starts to appear uncomfortable or nervous (such as stairs) can wait. Gently guide your dog away from trouble areas like the trash or litter boxes. Keep the TV and radio off for now so that you're not derailed by a surprise troop of unruly howler monkeys on the Nature Channel. When everyone, including you, is exhausted, take the new dog to a safe, confined area away from other pets and let him rest for a bit. Over the next few days, slowly expand the safe area under your supervision until you and your dog are comfortable with access to the entire house and yard.
On the second or third day, train your new dog to be home without humans by leaving the house for short trips. Start with a trip to the end of the driveway and back. Increase the time you are gone by only 5-10 minutes each trip. Have a good book you can go read somewhere down the street. This process is horrendously tedious for the humans, but it teaches the dog you'll be back and safeguards against the dog developing separation anxiety. Work your way up slowly to absences of several hours.
Save shopping trips to Petco, off leash outings at the dog park, and road trips to other potentially stressful public places for a few weeks so you have time to form a bond and a relationship of trust. Immediately establish a regular feeding and exercise schedule and stick to it to build routine. Gradually introduce your new dog to friends and family so that he is not overwhelmed. Save the big dog introduction open house for a few months. No dog needs all that going on in his first few days home when he is still learning where to pee. Click here for more information on what to do in the first 30 days.
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