Introducing your new Family Member to the household

Your pet will need time to adjust to its new home, and the transition may be somewhat stressful. An animal that displays a happy, playful attitude at the shelter may act wary and fearful in a new environment.

Watch for cues about how your pet is feeling. If your pet seems timid, try to move slowly, or just sit in the same room reading a book and let your pet come to you. If your pet is full of energy and ready to play, get out the toys right away. But be cautious. Pets can be both scared and full of energy. Modify your actions to make your new pet feel welcome. The care you take with your own behavior in early days will pay off in the future as your pet learns that you are someone to trust.

Many animals coming from the shelter have been in a cage or kennel for days or weeks before arriving at your home. To have the run of an entire house can be overwhelming, especially if it happens too fast. Resist the temptation to let your pet run loose in the house during this first week, especially if you have other pets.

Give your new dog a week or more to settle in and feel comfortable with her new environment. If your new puppy or dog seems comfortable and relaxed (not hiding and is willing to come to you for affection and food) you can provide access to other areas of your home.

If your new dog is your only pet, you can give him the chance to explore. Before you begin, be sure any off-limits areas (basement, attic, garage) aren't accessible, so the first big tour doesn’t end up in a frantic search.

Try introducing your dog to other parts of your house while on leash, so you can provide understanding of where and where not to go. On your first tour, walk around each room and let your pet sniff everything. If your pet tries to jump on something off-limits, calmly redirect him to an appropriate area. Pet or play in these accessible areas to associate these locations with positive things. Depending on your dog’s nature, you may need to give several “guided tours” on a leash before your pet understands how to behave in the house and which areas are accessible. Puppies should stay in a limited area in your home where you can supervise them until they're house-trained.

Some animals respond very well to an expanded living area. Others become frightened and retreat. If your pet seems more nervous now that you've given more access to the house, slow down the introduction process to match comfort level. Some dogs feel safest in a relatively small area and are only willing to explore other parts of the home if you accompany them. Every animal is different. Get to know what your pet prefers and try to support those preferences.

Source: Animal Humane Society