7 tips to welcome a new dog into your home over the holidays

Thinking of adopting a new pet? For many people, the holidays are a great time to welcome a new addition.

During the holidays, family is home and people have more free time. To help ensure a smooth transition, here are some tips to make sure your new dog feels right at home from the beginning.

First impressions are everything: If you know you will have a lot of visitors over during the holidays, make sure to plan ahead for how they will meet your new pet. Consider keeping your dog in a room away from the front door while your guests arrive. Leaving a radio or a TV on can also help create calming ambient noise. Once everyone has arrived and has settled in, bring your dog out for a calm first greeting.

  1. Play by the rules: Dogs like structure, especially when they are in a new environment. Rules help them understand the new situation in the home and with you. Once your dog knows the rules, he or she will relax and start developing confidence.
  2. Create a safe space: Adopted dogs sometimes have fear and anxiety in a new home. From the moment you get home, find a place that can be the dog’s safe zone. This needs to be a place where they can retreat if the commotion of guests or your family gets too much for them.
  3. Get your game on: Some rescued dogs have separation anxiety when they first come into a new environment, so it’s important to have “anxiety busters” on hand. Helpful ideas include food puzzles and problem-solving toys to keep your dog occupied so they don’t get into anything they shouldn’t!
  4. Know what to do in case of emergency: To avoid stress during the holidays, find the number for your emergency 24/7 vet clinic and keep it handy. It’s also useful to plan out your route so you’re not trying to find it when you’re already panicked and stressed.
  5. Watch the dinner plates: Guests might think it’s cute when your dog begs at the table, and this could result in them slipping some human food under the table. It’s important to avoid this! A lot of popular holiday human food is toxic for your pets, including chocolate, turkey, sweets and yeast dough.
  6. Decline the extra pet guests: If your guests want to bring their pets along to the party, politely decline. The holiday bustle isn’t a great time to introduce dogs to each other. Wait until the season settles down so you make sure the interaction is a calm one.

To find an adoptable dog in your area, visit your nearest Ontario SPCA animal centre or visit ontariospca.ca