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He’s just a cute ball of fluff at this point, but you already love him, as do the rest of the family. But he’s just a timid and shy puppy at the moment and he’s not sure what to make of his new home. He spends much of the time cowering in his crate, unsure how to act. It can be the same when you bring rescue dogs into your home. It’s a whole new environment for them and it can be extremely daunting. Training him to accept his new home is essential if you want him to be relaxed and happy.
You need to comfort him and assure him, otherwise, you may find that his nervousness causes him to pee all over your new floor. You also need to socialize him, so training him to accept his new home is essential if you want to be able to train him to accept other people and pets.
Training your dog to accept his new home is pretty straightforward. The thing to remember is, it will take time. You need to gradually introduce him to his new house in a calm and controlled manner. That also means introducing him to other family members carefully. You’ll need to use treats and toys to put him at ease and tempt him around his new home. You’ll also have to ensure he has his own space to retreat to when he’s stressed.
If he’s a puppy, he’ll soon be inquisitive and bursting with energy. You could see results in just a week or so. If he’s older and coming to your home then he may be shy and need three weeks before he starts to feel at home. Succeeding with this training will ensure a happy and harmonious home. It will give you a dog that’s willing to come out of his bed and spend time with you in the evenings.
Before he arrives you’ll need to gather a few bits. Find a quiet space where he’ll have some privacy. Try and put his bed somewhere where he’ll have at least a couple of walls around him. You’ll then need to stock up on treats and a few toys to keep him content.
Set aside a few minutes each day for playing gently with him and introducing him to his new home. If he’s a puppy you may also need a crate for these first few weeks.
Once you’ve got all of the above it’s time to get to work!
The Take It Slow Method
If there are any other pets in the house, make sure they meet on neutral ground. If it’s another dog you can take them for a walk to start with, and then go home afterwards. If he’s invading another pet's territory they may be aggressive and that will make the integration harder.
When he meets your family members, take it in turns. Don’t all rush over to him at once, this will just terrify him. You need to build up his confidence gradually, so each take turns.
Calm and quiet
For the first few days, try and stay relatively calm and quiet around him. You want to keep him relaxed and loud noises may scare him. So when people meet him and you’re walking him around his new home, try and put him at ease.
Secure him to a leash and walk him around the house in the morning and in the evening. This will help show him where his territory begins and ends. Once you’ve done this for a few days you can lose the leash and encourage him to walk with you without a leash.
Spend a few minutes each day playing gently with him. You can get out a toy and encourage tug of war. You should also spend a few minutes in the evening stroking him and getting him calm. It’s important he can spend time with you without him thinking he has to be playing with you.
The Privacy Method
You need to make sure he has a really nice and comfy bed, or crate. When he enters the home he needs somewhere he can escape to. The nicer you can make that place the sooner he will adjust to his new surroundings. Put in blankets and try and make sure it gives him some privacy.
Say good morning and night
It may sound bizarre, but it will make those hours at night much easier for him. So, give him a cuddle when you come down in the morning and stroke him and say good night before you go to bed.
Dedicate at least 10 minutes twice a day to playing with him. One of those times you can encourage him to play with toys and be animated. The other 10 minutes stay calm and just stroke him. You want him to know he can get all different types of attention from you.
Try and set a consistent routine for him. If he knows when he’s going to get his meals and when he’s going for a walk, he’ll get settled much sooner. Uncertainty will only prolong the adjustment period.
Give him space
To start with, it’s vital he gets some time to himself. That means if he retreats to his bed, you all leave him there for a while. Don’t let the kids take him out. He needs some alone time. If he doesn’t get it he may get stressed and he’ll struggle to relax.
The Incentive Method
You need to motivate him to wander around and investigate to start with. To do that, carry some treats around in your pocket. When you see him walking around or coming to find you, give him a treat and some verbal praise.
Space from other pets
You need to ensure he has some privacy from other pets in the house. You may want to consider using baby gates to begin with, so other dogs can be kept separate while he gets settled. This will make him feel safer and more willing to get to know his new home.
This is a great way to get him out his bed and happy with his surroundings. You can leave food puzzles in different rooms to encourage him to go exploring. They will keep him occupied for hours and happy that he’s on the hunt for food.
There’s no better way to a dog’s heart than through food. You don’t want to give him treats constantly though, for no reason. So, start teaching him tricks from the beginning. The earlier a dog learns, the better learners they’ll be. You can teach him to ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and any number of other tricks. Then give him a tasty treat afterwards.
Don’t punish him
Whilst he’s finding his feet in your new home, it’s important you don’t do anything to scare him. That means if he goes to the toilet on the floor you calmly clear it up. If you shout at him for any bad behavior he’ll only get anxious and want to spend time away from you.
By James Barra
Published: 12/05/2017, edited: 01/08/2021