Did you know instantly that your dog was for you as soon as you saw them? When we first met Toby from Houston Dachshund Rescue, we knew he was were meant for us! Full disclosure, Toby was actually the second dog we looked at. But by a happy accident, Toby was the pup we actually adopted. We brought him home and he settled in like he had lived with us his entire life. Miraculously, my other dogs accepted him without any issues immediately and hardly any introductions were needed!
Our first few months with Toby flew by. Just like all new dog parents, those early days with Toby were spent getting him used to our routine and making sure he was comfortable and felt secure in our home.
Here are some of the things I did (and some I wish I did) to celebrate those first few months and develop our lifelong bond.
Set a routine that includes fun and exploration
Routines aren’t just when your pup sleeps, eats, and goes potty. Schedule time for snuggles and fun or a weekly adventure, so togetherness grows as your puppy grows, too.
As many of you reading this, I work from home. When I made the switch to working from home full time two years ago, I had to get my dogs used to a new routine that allowed me time to have uninterrupted hours working in my home office. That included adding in early morning walks around the neighborhood and mid-afternoon play sessions in the backyard.
In your routine, think about all the unique ways you can bond with your dog, like including a quick game of tug after a potty break. Set aside time for morning or evening walks, cuddles on the couch while watching a movie, or an extra special hike outdoors on weekends. By making routines less “routine,” you and your puppy can infuse joy in more minutes of the day, and set a bond-forming habit for life.
Adventure together for socialization
Get out there and enjoy life! I remember right after we adopted Toby, we started bringing him with us everywhere when we ran errands. It got him used to car rides, he got to visit stores like Home Depot and Academy and got used to being in places with lots of distractions. Now, this may not work for every dog. You'll have to gauge how much stimulation your dog can handle based on his personality. For example, despite being a happy, outgoing dog at home, my dog Harriet prefers to stay in her comfort zone of the house and backyard only.
In general, weekly adventures help your puppy grow into a happy, comfortable adult and build your own lifelong habit of seeking out new experiences together.
Have fun, but don’t overwhelm your puppy or new dog with too much stimulation or with frightening situations. Pay attention to how your dog is responding to new sights and sounds, and take a break if you see any signs of fear or stress like yawning, excessive panting, whale eyes, tail tucked, or tight facial expression.
Build a training foundation so you speak the same language
Proper training early on will help your puppy and new dog make sense of the world, and you both can bond over those joyful ah-ha moments when you discover you can communicate! Being a dachshund, one of the first things I trained Toby to do was use ramps to get up and down from the couch. Having had a doxie in the past go through back surgeries I knew how important it was to protect Toby from this outcome as much as possible.
Having a solid training foundation is extremely important for the safety of your dog and also cements your bond with him. You and your dog learning to understand each other is the key to a long and successful relationship.
Schedule a session with a professional pet photographer
An experienced pet photographer such as myself will be able to capture the love between you and your pup in a beautiful way. Even if you or your dog is camera shy, I will make you both look great, and the best part? You’ll have a record of the beginning of your and your dog’s journey together in a gorgeous album or wall art. Ready to get started documenting your pup? Just contact me below!