The Post-Puppy Panic
Feeling overwhelmed after bringing home a new puppy? I'm going to call this phenomenon the "post-puppy panic." Whether you've adopted an adult dog or puppy from a shelter or purchased a young puppy from a breeder, you may be feeling like you've bitten off more than you can chew. And trust me--puppies like to chew!
Here are some of the most common reasons people feel the post-puppy panic, and how you can make the adjustment process a bit less overwhelming.
1. Accidents in the house.
If you've brought home a young puppy, hopefully you knew that accidents were going to be part of the deal. But often times, people who adopt an adult dog will say that they were "told he/she was housetrained," and yet the dog is having accidents in the house. The adjustment period can be as stressful on dogs as it can be on people, and some dogs express that stress through elimination. Give your dog a consistent schedule and a safe space, like a laundry room or a crate. With some time to adjust to your routine, you may find that it won't take long for the accidents to stop.
2. Tense introductions.
If you have existing pets in the home, introductions can be tedious. It's important to give your new dog and your existing pets time to get used to each other. Dogs will often become buddies right away, while some will never be fully comfortable with the others' presence. Regardless of how your new dog and current pets are getting along, you shouldn't leave them unattended together until you're absolutely sure there's no risk of a fight breaking out.
If you are dealing with serious dog-dog aggression or dog-cat aggression, it's important to get a qualified positive trainer to help you right away, or schedule a phone consultation with one of my VSPDTs.
3. Toys are getting more playtime than the puppy.
Kids may initially promise to feed, walk, and play with the dog, but it's inevitable that their excitement about the new addition will fade, and he won't be quite so "new" anymore. As the adult who adopted the dog, you're responsible for the care and well-being of that dog for the entirety of his life--even if the kids aren't helping as much as you hoped they would.
4. Excessive vocalization.
Regardless of your new dog's age, barking, whining, and crying are common in the first few weeks of a transition period. While some dogs are generally more prone to vocalizations than others, as the stress of the adjustment to your home and routine fades, often times the barking and whining will, too.
5. Kid Trouble
Another common reason dogs are returned is because there is an issue between the new dog and existing children in the home. It is absolutely critical that you never leave any child unattended with any dog, but especially not a new dog.
If your kids engage in behavior such as pulling the dog's tail or ears, sitting on top of the dog, or teasing the dog, what you have is a disaster waiting to happen.
Teaching your child how to respectfully interact with your new dog is critical to the safety and well-being of both child and dog. However, if your dog is showing any signs of aggression towards your child, you should contact a qualified trainer immediately.
Here's more info on Dog and Child Safety.
While in some cases, a dog may just be the wrong fit for your home, you will likely find that with a bit of time, patience, and consistency, your new addition will start to feel more and more like part of the family.
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