Whether you're hosting a foster dog or you've brought home a new puppy or dog from a breeder or rescue, everything is brand new to your new SideKick. And this can be pretty overwhelming, stressful, and scary. There are, however, a few things you can do to ease the process of settling in and help your new SideKick get comfortable in their new home:
1) Give your new SideKick breathing space. It's tempting to invite everyone over to say Hi to the new family addition; it's hard to NOT want to cuddle and pet and coo at a fuzzy puppy sibling; and it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new, furry family member. But, keep in mind that it can be super overwhelming to be in a new place, with new people, and a new routine to learn. Give your new SideKick some time and space to get the lay of the land, to settle in at their pace, and figure out their new surroundings. If that means ignoring your dog (to an extent), then do it! Let them come to you when they're ready!
2) Keep things in the house low-key. Going along with number 1, try to maintain your normal schedule, but at a lower activity level. Like I mentioned, it's tempting to invite everyone over - neighbors, family, friends, other dogs - to say Hello to the new furry SideKick, but I encourage you to avoid having guests over (adult and kids); lower the volume of movies, music, and TV; avoid making loud noises and quick movements. Your new SideKick will have more opportunity to relax and settle in if there are fewer things to watch for, adjust to, and deal with. And we can make it easier on them!
3) Let sleeping dogs lie! Moving to a new place is exhausting and there's so much to take in all at once. A dog may not be moving box after box of stuff when moving to a new house, but the stress of all the newness can take a toll on your SideKick. The naps and night-time slumbers are important for recovery, for getting a fresh start on the next day, and relieving the stress of the move. Provide your SideKick with a few comfy places to sleep, but let them choose where they're most comfortable for a nap or sleep (within reason, of course - safety first) and leave them be.
4) Reward relaxation. When your new SideKick chooses to lay down somewhere - one of the comfy spots you provided or elsewhere, reward it! Toss, drop, or place a treat near them, taking care not to startle them with the treat. The more you reward it, the more you're likely to see your SideKick choosing to relax (that's the power of positive reinforcement for ya)!
5) Provide relaxing activities. Take short walks close to home or even just in the yard specifically for sniffing (often referred to as a sniffari); sniffing is relaxing and calming, but a long walk can be overwhelming or too much stimulation. You might fill a Kong or Kong-like toy with something stinky and delicious and easy to acquire; a small, easy puzzle like this can build a bit of confidence, but licking and lapping at the Kong can also be quite relaxing for your SideKick. If you find the Kong doesn't hold your dog's attention or it's too difficult, smearing peanut butter or yogurt or something else tasty on a licky mat (or silicone pot holder) or even the floor has a similar effect.
Though not your typical list of things to do with your SideKick, these activities can help you prepare everyone (particularly your new SideKick) for a happy, healthy, and harmonious household!