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Making Introductions: Meeting the Family

Bringing home your new furry family member is an exciting time, but it can be overwhelming for your new dog. Remember, while your dog is new to you, everything is new to him. Be patient and gentle with him, and make introductions slowly and carefully. Here are some helpful tips to make this transition as smooth as possible for both your dog and your family.

Meeting Your Children

Before introducing your children to your new dog, explain to them that dogs are sensitive, living animals with feelings like theirs. Your dog may feel nervous, just like they feel when meeting someone new, so they need to be careful not to scare him. Explain that they should be very gentle when petting him, and never pull on his tail or ears, grab or hug him or make loud noises around him.

Introduce your children to your new dog gradually in short, supervised sessions. Have them practice giving slow, gentle pets without being too rough or loud. To a small dog or puppy, children can seem large and a little scary. Having your children sit on the floor for the first few play sessions can help small dogs and puppies feel more secure. Involve your children in your dog’s training, and allow them to give your dog treats. This will help your dog make positive associations with your children.

Meeting Your Other Pets

Introduce your new dog to your other dog(s) carefully, keeping the dogs on leashes. It’s best to introduce them outside in a neutral place, such as a park, to avoid a territory dispute. Let them sniff each other, and observe their behavior closely. Separate them if you notice growling, body stiffness and staring, which are signs that they are uncomfortable and may become aggressive. Do not let them off their leashes together until you are sure they will get along.

If you’re introducing your new dog to your cat(s), allow them to first see each other while being separated by a baby gate or glass door. When you put them together for the first time, prevent your dog from chasing and scaring your cat. Either keep him on a leash, or keep the baby gate or another barricade in the doorway, so your cat can run away without being chased. Even after they get to know each other, make sure your cat has access to vertical space so she can easily get up and away if she wants while still being able to see the dog.

This is a stressful situation for your other pets too, so be sure to give them some extra one-on-one time with you. And, do not leave them unsupervised with your new dog until you’re certain that they are comfortable with each other. It may take some time, but they will get used to each other and hopefully become friends.

Meeting Visitors

Meeting new people is important for your dog’s socialization, so give him many opportunities. When introducing him to a new person, keep him on his leash and tell him to sit. Don’t let him jump up on the person. Once he sits, invite the person to pet him, and give him lots of praise. Again, if he shows any signs of being uncomfortable, move him away and try again another time.

A new home and a new family is a big change for your dog. He may be hesitant at first, but when given time, space and comfort, most dogs will adjust and blossom into wonderful family members to be loved for years to come.

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