Ask the Trainer
by Drew Sandberg
Q: We are adopting our first dog. What’s the best way to introduce him to our home and family on his first day?
A: Bringing a new pet into a home can be very exciting and challenging at the same time. When bringing a new dog to the home, I recommend having all family members meet the dog outside of the home before the dog enters the home, then enter the home together. This helps insure that the dog knows everyone who belongs and will reduce the chance of the dog guarding the space against a family member that the dog did not meet. I recommend limiting access to the whole house until the dog has earned his way in. Earning refers to acting appropriately in your presence and then you allowing additional exploration of the new environment. Baby gates and crate training really help with this. Baby gates allow you to keep the dog in a confined area until you are ready to open more of the home to him. Crate training helps you limit access, but also gives the dog a place to call his own. I encourage feeding in the crate so that really good things happen there and that the dog does not feel “banished”. I also suggest keeping the dog on leash for a while to monitor activity and behaviors while acclimating to the new environment. When children are in the home, I highly recommend being very vigilant concerning food and toys that could create conflict between the child and the dog. Monitor interactions very carefully. Be sure that all family members are on the same page regarding rules like dogs on furniture, beds, etc. And finally, and most importantly, take it very slowly. Take the time to build trust and success. Rushing anything can make it difficult to extinguish unwanted behaviors later.