There are many things to consider when bringing a new dog into your life. Do you have the time and energy for a puppy, or would a mature dog be a better choice? What kind of dog best suits you and your lifestyle – athletic, big or small, requiring little or no grooming? Taking time to think about these things will help you choose a dog that is most suitable and a good fit for your life and family.
One thing that new parents often miss is how they will help their new dog settle into their life together. Did you know that the average time for a dog to get settled into a new home is three months? Building a relationship, gaining trust and developing confidence takes time. Getting comfortable with a new routine and environment can also be daunting.
Don’t Leave Me!
But here’s the clincher. Many dogs are not OK with being left alone. I am always shocked to hear when a new dog has come home on the weekend, and the family expects to carry on as usual that Monday. Or even in a week or two. Unfortunately, many new parents only realize the new addition has separation anxiety when they leave and return to a freaked-out dog or a wrecked home.
Being able to be left on their own is something that too many people presume their new dog will be able to handle. Usually, that is not the case leaving new parents in a panic, scrambling to figure out what to do. Preparing a dog to be on their own takes weeks or even months. Several things influence the process, including the age of the dog and their previous lifestyle. In addition, dogs that have been in a succession of homes can develop severe anxiety about being left.
Are You Prepared?
Planning so the dog will not be left alone for the first weeks must be part of basic preparation when bringing a new dog home. This consideration may decide whether it is even the right time to get a dog. Are you going back to work or increasing your workload outside the home? Will you be able to support a new dog in these times? For a student living alone and going to university in the Fall, getting a dog in August is pretty much a recipe for disaster.
Preparing your dog to be on their own requires systematic and careful conditioning. While that is happening, it is crucial to have resources in place to ensure they are not put into situations they are unprepared for. Depending on your living situation, there are several potential solutions:
- arrange to work from home
- organize your work schedule with your partner or roommate to ensure one person is always home
- work share
- have a friend, family member, or neighbour spend time with your dog when you have to go out
- schedule activities that require you to leave home without your dog so that someone is available to be with them
These are just a few common strategies. Another popular option is to take advantage of a service, such as daycare. However, having a backup plan is a good idea, as daycare is not suitable for all dogs. With a bit of creativity, there are many other potential options.
Can You Take the Time It Will Take?
Because you cannot predict how long it will take to get a new dog settled and ready to be on their own, it is best to play it safe and have a sustainable plan for at least a few months. Some dogs can be ready within a couple of weeks, but most take longer, so it’s important to consider whether you can set up the resources to make that happen.
Being prepared will help reduce stress for both you and your dog. This preparation will be your ounce of prevention, helping to avoid unnecessary drama and allowing you to focus on getting your dog settled in comfortably and beginning their new life with you.
Have you had a dog that had separation anxiety? Were you able to help them get comfortable being on their own? If so, I’d love to hear about it.
If you have a dog that has separation anxiety, let’s chat. I can help you create a plan to build your dog’s confidence and get your schedule back on track. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org