It’s normal for a dog to have an adjustment period when arriving in a new home. Even dogs who are already housebroken may have accidents in the house. Your dog may act scared of its new surroundings, or overly excited at meeting new people. This transition period may be longer if you have existing pets at home. (I’ll have another post later in the month on introductions.)
One of the best ways to help your dog bond with you is to spend plenty of active one-on-one time with them. The most basic way to create a bond is to take your dog on walks. Go far enough so the dog gets tired, and try to keep them moving rather than stopping every three feet to mark or sniff. This helps build discipline, while still letting your dog get to know the neighborhood. Tessa was fairly unsure when we brought her home, but she really started coming out of her shell when we would take her for walks. She would constantly look up at us with the most adoring look you ever saw.
Play time at home is crucial, too. Find a toy that they really like and they will get excited to play with you. Charlie had one of the toy foxes without stuffing, Tessa and Tonks love any sort of ball, and Ginny adores soccer balls (especially these stuffed ones from IKEA). Remember: a tired dog is less likely to get into trouble around the house!
Of course, most dogs will bond well with anyone who feeds them. Reward them with healthy treats for good behavior. We like the little training treats that are just a few calories each. Make a game of it. Engage their minds as well as their playful nature. If your dog has had a few too many treats prior to entering your home, you can always just use bits of their dry food to entice them.
Showing your new best friend lots of affection and patience will go a long way toward making them part of the family. Do you have stories of dogs who took a bit of TLC? Share them in the comments! I look forward to hearing about your fur babies!