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  • Queen Dalia

Introducing Your Puppy to the Pack

Bringing home your new puppy is an exciting thing for the puppy and your family. It’s best for everyone that the transition from their pack to yours is handled in such a way that the trauma of the relocation can be minimized. If you can imagine being in your puppy’s situation, leaving everything you’ve come to know behind, you’d see how care needs to be taken to make things easy on the pup. Your pup needs your empathy at this sensitive time. Love and nurture them early and often so that they’ll be more receptive to your discipline and expectations for obedience as time passes.

It’s important that you clear a couple days of your schedule after the pup’s arrival. This allows you time and a clear head to integrate your pup into your home. You don’t want to bring your pup home and then leave them unattended for 8-10 hours a day. They’ll need your reassuring presence to let them know that they are going to continue to be taken care of as they’ve grown accustomed to in their short lifetime.

When you bring the puppy into your home, don’t introduce them to any other animals just yet, if you have them. One reason is to avoid getting any of the animals sick, as your new pup is not yet fully vaccinated, especially if the pup had any issues in their original home. For instance, our pup tested positive during their fecal occult test, so we don’t want any interactions until we take them to our vet for a full checkup.

Another reason to hold off on introducing your new pup to other pets is to establish pack order, with the humans leading the way. Take them first to a secluded area with the humans, even if it’s a bedroom with the door closed. This lets you immediately set the pack order of humans first, animals next. You have to establish yourselves as the alphas before the puppy is given a chance to think they run the home. Set boundaries from the moment they come home so they know where they can and cannot go, like on the furniture. Using leads/leashes is recommended so that you can retain control of their boundaries.

Next, allow the puppy to get used to all of the humans’ scents. Walk around the pup with bare feet. Have clean puppy pads and some of your clothes available so that the pup can smell you as they sniff and explore the room. They’ll pick up your scent and start to become more comfortable with you.

It’s important that you treat your pup like a newborn baby. Sudden moves and loud noises are startling and can make your pup shy away from you. As you’re in the first stages of building trust, it’s a good idea to stay on the pup’s good side early on.

Call the pup by name as you start to practice simple commands while giving out treats. The treats at this stage can be morsels of their kibble. Take their food and water away while they’re eating or drinking. If they come closer, correct them and give a command, such as “no,” “wait” or “stay.”

Touch them all over. Put your hand in their mouth and correct them if they nip at your fingers, no matter how gently, you do not want your put to build a habit of putting their teeth on you, furniture, carpeting, etc. Rub and hold their paws, gently pull their tail. Let them know that you have a “right” to touch them at any time, without the pup getting aggressive.

Of course, your pup won’t understand your language just yet. You’re getting in the habit of giving commands and your pup is getting used to hearing their name, building discipline and obedience within the pack and building their love for you as you nurture them.

You should know the pup’s eating and bathroom habits in advance. Typically, you transition the pup from their old food to the food you’ll serve over a period of 5-6 days. The first 1-2 days are a 75% - 25% ratio of old to new. Days 3-4 are 50% - 50%, with days 5-6 at 25% - 75% and finally making a 100% transition to new food ONLY when they have been able to digest appropriately, as demonstrated by healthy poop. Your pup is unique, so watch for their reactions to maintain their best health.

Integrating your pup into your home is a process to be handled with awareness and care. It helps your pup feel at home and allows them to easily follow the pack order of 1) humans and 2) pup and any other animals in the home. If you have other pets, they will establish their intra-pet pack order amongst themselves.

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