Transitioning a New Dog

By Ron Ayalon

After falling head over heels in love with Ramona, the dog in the corner with the wiggly butt, you have decided to bring her home. This is where the hard work begins. It's easy to become enamored with nearly every dog, but taking her home and making her comfortable and happy is not necessarily so simple.

Once you have chosen Ramona to be your new best friend, you have taken on the responsibility of keeping her happy and healthy. That begins by making a good transition to your home. Dogs are pretty resilient, but the move can still be tough. It is critical that you are committed to keeping her and taking care of her.

Be Prepared

Preparation is key to being ready to make Ramona feel at home. Get all the necessary supplies so that everything she needs will be there already. This should include food and bowls, a leash and collar or harness, a bed, a crate if you plan to do crate training, and plenty of toys and treats.

You also need to be prepared in other ways. Be ready with a plan for how you will train Ramona and what expectations you will have for her. For example, will she be allowed on the bed? Will she be expected to sleep in a crate at night? What times of day will she be fed? Make sure you have a plan and that everyone in the household knows what it is. It is very important for Ramona to receive consistent training and expectations. Otherwise, she may get confused and uncomfortable.

Be There

Plan to bring Ramona home when you have some time to spend with her. You don't want to go to work and leave her all alone in a new place. Ideally, you should have a few days off of work or at least a whole weekend to get her adjusted before leaving her home alone. Before leaving her alone for an entire day, try leaving her for an hour or two. This way she will begin to understand that when you leave, you eventually come back.

Let Her Explore

When Ramona enters your house for the first time, her nose will be assaulted with a barrage of new smells. Dogs experience the world through their sense of smell first and to take them all in, she will need to explore. Let her wander around the house and sniff everything at her own pace. Do make sure she has gone potty outside first, however, or you may regret this step!


Getting enough exercise is crucial to both the physical and mental well-being of every dog, no matter what the size. One of the first things you should do with Ramona is taking her for a nice long walk. Not only will she get to know her neighborhood, but it can also help to drain any nervous or anxious energy she has about her new place.

Once she is nice and tired, you can introduce her to her sleeping zone. Place her bed in a common area where you and others are likely to spend a lot of time. Lead her to her bed and let her have a rest while you remain nearby. She will come to associate this area as being her space and a place where she can sleep and relax. You may want to reinforce this association by giving her a treat or two while she is there.

Potty Breaks

They may have told you that Ramona is housebroken, but that doesn't mean she won't have accidents. The new place and any lingering nervousness or excitement can lead her to make a mistake or two. Give her plenty of potty breaks in the first week. Take her out more often than you think is necessary and give her treats afterwards to help her understand appropriate potty behavior in her new home.

If you take time and are patient with Ramona, transitioning her to your home should be very rewarding. It is important to go slowly and not to get angry or frustrated with her if she has an accident or destroys something. She needs time to get used to her new home and the rules you expect her to follow.

Ron Ayalon
Article by Ron Ayalon
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