Have you ever gone to a place that you’ve never been before and where the people don’t speak the same language as you? Does the expression “fish out of water” come to mind?
The same might apply to a new dog. Whether it’s a young puppy that you’ve just collected from the breeder or a rescue dog that you’re bringing home for the first time, it must be next to impossible to imagine what is going through their minds when they first enter your home. Literally everything is new and strange to them. Only a short time ago they were either with their mom and likely their siblings, doing what young pups do or they were staring at the walls of a dog rescue centre wondering which human would pass by their cage next. To say it’s unsettling would be a mild understatement!
At this point, it is so important that we show patience and compassion to the new arrival that is trying to figure out just what is going on. Confusion is rampant.
Puppy: “Before if I yapped at my brothers or peed where I wanted, no-one seemed to mind. Now I’m being whisked outside or told to hush up”. “I’ve been used to having my siblings around all the time or mom telling me what to do or what not to do. I don’t like being by myself with humans that don’t understand me”
Rescue: “The smells in this house are different. If I marked in the rescue facility, no-one seemed to mind. Now I’m being told off. I have to leave my scent somewhere so other dogs know what’s going on” “These people seem kind but I miss Bob who used to come see me and play with me”
The first few days of having a new dog in the home can be fraught with frustration unless we make an effort to see the world from the dog’s perspective. No dog does things to be deliberately difficult, it’s just not in their DNA. They are just trying to understand what their new boundaries are and what these new people are trying to communicate.
Yes, accidents will likely happen. Yes, there could be sleepless nights. Yes, you might start to regret the decision to bring the dog home. It’s so important to take a deep breathe, count to ten and start to get to know your new buddy. The quicker you can establish a bond with your dog, the quicker things will come around for both of you. Dogs are intelligent, sensitive creatures that want to get along with the rest of the “pack” so help them along the way. If they are old enough and have had the appropriate shots, get them out in the big, wide world with you, let them meet other people and give them plenty of play and exercise. It’ll make both of you feel good and will help the dog adapt more quickly to his/her new world.
When you get a new dog, ask yourself “How would I feel if my world was turned upside down?”. You may find it easier to appreciate what your dog is going through quicker by answering that question.