Help, there’s a dog in my house!

Your house has been puppy-proofed for a week–not a crayon on the floor, no poisonous fiddle-leaf plants in sight. A chew stick sits bravely on the counter, awaiting its slobbery fate, and the crate is lined with blankets and soft, snuggly toys. In just a moment, your furry new family member will come barreling through that front door.

Now what?

Like any overnight guest in your home, your new dog will be curious about the accommodations. Show her where the “bathroom” is (i.e., that mossy patch in the back yard or the tree out front). Praise her effusively if she happens to relieve herself in the appropriate spot, but be prepared for it to happen again when she gets back inside. (Perhaps now isn’t the time to ask but did you remember to get that stain and odor remover?)

Lead her to where her meals will be served and then introduce her to her crate. Go ahead, give her a treat so she feels good about this strange new place. Let her get comfortable exploring one, maybe two rooms–and then hold off on opening up the rest of your home. She’ll have to complete a rigorous course in housetraining before she gets an all-access pass.

Make some time to be with her–experts recommend taking that first week off work, if you can. But don’t spend every single minute together. She’s got to learn that being alone is ok–that you will always come back. Periodically leave her by herself in her crate. Keep the absences very short, and only gradually build up to staying away from her for longer periods so she gets used to the idea of you coming and going.

Introduce her to your cat, if you have one. And to your kids. The more time she spends in the company of other people, the friendlier she will become. Sign up for training classes. Make an appointment with a good vet. And double-check to make sure you’ve got all the supplies you need to hunker down with your dog for a week.

Don’t expect too much

Imagine you were suddenly removed from everything and everyone you’d ever known and thrown into a completely foreign world. Your dog has no idea that this is now her permanent home, let alone that the fuzzy green rug in your living room isn’t a toilet. Set her up for a smooth transition by establishing clear rules and a predictable routine. In a world created by–and tailored to–humans, your dog will take great comfort in the consistent and the familiar.