A few times a year, we will have friends or family bring their dogs along on a visit.* For someone who has not brought a new pet home in more than a half decade (more about that next week), it can be easy to forget the experience of having a new pet in your home.
When you bring a new pet home, whether it’s your first or your fifth, there is an immediate change to your schedule. It just takes longer to feed, walk, and play with multiple dogs than it does to do the same thing with one. And so often they need to be fed separately. Or what if the new dog won’t eat? What if all the dogs just want to eat someone else’s food?
When you step out of the house, the issues continue. Will the dog react to a squirrel? What about a rabbit? A jogger? Another dog?
When I walk with Sirius Black, I more or less know the answers to these questions. However, stepping out with a new dog, the calculus changes. If you aren’t used to scanning your environment for disturbances, suddenly, your head is swinging from side to side like the dogs in the movie Up!
I always recommend that people with new dogs anticipate that anything they pass while walking may trigger a reaction. This is especially important with puppies, who may react to different things as they mature, and rescue dogs who are coming from a very different environment.
Back inside, similar issues can arise. Even adult dogs may not be fully housetrained when they arrive in a new environment. There are also items around the house that might attract the attention of a new dog. A friend’s dog once chewed on my wireless router, and I have also heard of dogs being spooked by home furnishings, such as statues.
There are positives as well, of course. We had a visiting dog over Fourth of July weekend, and her calm around loud noises seemed to help Sirius Black recover from the fireworks and thunderstorms. Those positives were less evident when she encouraged him to bark at passing pedestrians outside the house. Overall, an excellent reminder that there is always a transition when you bring a new pet home.
New pet owners, my thoughts are with you!