What should you do when you meet your dog for the first time?

  • Pets need “proper care” too. From health care to behavior modification, there’s a lot to know about raising a pet. Veterinarian Dr. In-Young Choi, an expert in pet behavior, explains everything you need to know about raising a puppy.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the first month of your dog’s life with you will shape the rest of theirs, which means that the relationship you and your dog establish early on is crucial. As the saying goes, “Spoiled at three, spoiled at eight,” and it’s during this time that your dog learns the rules of the house and develops good habits that you and your dog can build trust and enjoy each other’s company.

How you and your dog relate to each other early on will have a huge impact on your life together in the future. [GETTYIMAGES]

Consider dogs who may be anxious in unfamiliar surroundings

When you meet your dog for the first time, you’re probably very excited about the prospect of welcoming a new family member. You’ll probably open the front door wide and bring your dog into the house, with the whole family surrounding them, each saying something like “cute” or “pretty,” and most likely petting every inch of their body. But how does your dog feel about all of this?

A: Yay, I have a family, I’m excited!
B: Pooch, pooch! (barks or tails down)

Many owners assume that their dog will react like A, but in reality, it’s more likely to be B. A dog’s anxiety is at its peak when they are in an unfamiliar place, with unfamiliar people. Being alone, away from mom, dad, and siblings adds to the fear, so it’s important for owners to be mindful of their dog’s panic over sudden changes in environment.

When you first enter the house, it’s important not to startle your dog. Instead of making loud noises or gathering around, you should greet your dog in a calm manner.

Once you’re inside, you should take your time showing your dog around the house. This doesn’t mean carrying him around in your arms, but rather setting him down on the floor and letting him explore on his own. If you have an older dog, we recommend greeting your new dog at the front door together. Don’t force them to get close to you, but instead, open the door to the crate or kennel that your new dog is in slightly to allow them to greet each other naturally, which can be less stressful for both dogs.

If your old dog hasn’t met your new dog and all the attention is on them, they may become aggressive, so you’ll need to take extra care from the start, including providing exploration time so they can sniff each other out.

Dogs with high levels of anxiety may be better suited to a cave-style house than a crate. [Captured by ChocoPet]

Provide a calming, dedicated space

It’s a good idea to set up a dedicated space for your dog, preferably in a quiet corner, so that they feel safe and secure. The type of house you choose will depend on your dog’s안전놀이터 preferences, but if your dog is an anxious person, a cave house may be better for them than a crate. It’s also a good idea to put some of your dog’s old bedding, blankets, etc. in the house so that they have familiar smells to help them settle in.

Also, placing toys in a dedicated area can help your dog relax. Rubberized toys or stuffed animals can be soothing to chew on, and it’s a good idea to include treats, such as squeezable nutritional supplements like toothpaste or wet food.

If your dog is young and not very spatially aware, we recommend installing a fence in front of the dog’s area. Young dogs can’t distinguish between their space and the bathroom, which can lead to potty accidents. They also don’t know what they’re supposed to be playing with and can chew on wires and other objects. Just as you would keep dangerous objects away from small children, you need similar safeguards for your dog.

Once you’ve installed the fence, you’ll need to teach your dog how to exit the fence through the gate. If you pick your dog up and carry him over the fence, he’ll learn to jump over the fence, and then he can try to escape while you’re distracted. So, even if it’s a bit of a hassle, you need to be vigilant and teach your dog how to exit the fence so he doesn’t learn to jump over the fence.

Watch out for socialization training needs

If the dog you brought home was inevitably separated from its mother early on, it may not have been socialized. This is because puppies naturally learn socialization, order, and manners by rolling around with their mothers and siblings when they are young. So if your puppy is showing aggression towards people or other dogs, howling when left alone, and other problematic behaviors, don’t just assume they’ll “grow out of it” and start training them from an early age.

The socialization period is between 3 weeks of age and 12-16 weeks (3-4 months), and what happens during this time can completely change your dog’s personality and behavior. If your puppy is isolated from the outside world during this time, has no contact with people or other puppies, or has too much contact, he may grow up to be a skittish puppy. This is because they may be sensitive to new environments or stimuli, and their fear of them may grow beyond the level of a normal dog.

If you’re a first-time dog owner, you may want to look into a puppy school to help with socialization. A puppy school is a type of puppy school where dogs who are separated from their mothers and siblings at an early age can learn to socialize. Many veterinary clinics, dog cafes and kindergartens, and dog training centers offer such programs, so we recommend that you consult with them.

Dr. In-Young Choi is a veterinarian…
Dr. Choi has been a veterinarian since 2003 and specializes in pet behavior. She is currently the director of Love Pet Animal Hospital in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, and a board member of the Seoul Veterinary Medical Association, and her most recent book is “Welcome, First Time Dog Owner.