Pawternity Leave: Welcoming a New Dog into Your Home

Woman Hugging Rescue Dog

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If you’re thinking about adding a new four-legged friend into your family, you have some prep work ahead of you. But getting ready to bring home a new puppy or rescue dog is only half the equation—the real work begins the second you bring your new dog into your home. To ease the transition, some people take paid (or unpaid) time off work, giving rise to a new term: “pawternity leave."

Are you about to grow your fur family? Pawternity time is the best way to ease the transition for you and your new puppy pal or rescue dog.

What to Expect During the Adoption Process

Before you bring your new pup home, there’s a few things you should know about the dog adoption process. Finding the right rescue and the perfect puppy for your situation can take time.

Reach out to rescue groups in your area or those that specialize in breeds that fit your lifestyle. Be prepared to provide them with some basic info about your household, your home and yard, and your background with pets. Many organizations today will schedule a home visit, which is a great time to puppy-proof your house and chat more about what you’re looking for in your new furry family member.

By the time adoption day rolls around, you should have everything you need for your new dog to feel right at home—a safe place to sleep, food and water bowls, leash, collar with identification tags, and plenty of toys.

Why Taking a 'Pawternity Leave' Holiday Can Be Beneficial for Your New Dog

Once you bring your dog home, the real work begins—and that’s when the idea of pawternity leave becomes so important. Pawternity leave is paid or unpaid time off from work when you bring home a new dog. The concept has been catching on as employers realize the important role that four-legged family members play in our lives.

Bringing home a new puppy or dog is a significant life change, and it only makes sense that you would need time to make the transition. Whether your employer offers pawternity leave or not, consider taking time off work or putting your life on hold for a few days to give your new furry friend a quality welcome. 

Think about it: Your new dog has just left a familiar environment with little explanation as to what’s happening, aside from your reassuring words as you loaded him in the car. Now he has arrived at a totally different location with new sights, smells, and sounds. Dogs are also pack animals, and your new pup has been adopted into a new "pack", which can be very stressful.

Nearly everyone who has brought a puppy home has experienced a sleepless night or two (or more) because of a crying puppy. All the excitement of a new pet plus sleep deprivation equals sheer exhaustion. This may be reason enough to take a few days off work when adopting a new dog!

Building Trust: How to Establish a Good Relationship with Your New Dog

So what will you do to make the most of your pawternity leave? Take the time to build a solid relationship with your new puppy or rescue dog. Get things started on the right foot—er, paw—with these top tips.

1. Start Slow

No doubt you’re excited to go everywhere and do everything with your new sidekick but take it easy on your pup the first few days.

Plan to spend the first 24 to 48 hours around the house or in close proximity, so your dog can start to feel settled. It’s also best not to overwhelm your dog with a parade of visitors. Instead, start slowly and gradually expand your dog’s world with new people and places.

2. Get into a Routine

Take advantage of your time at home to help your puppy or dog learn the routine around your house. Even though you may be taking a pawternity leave, get up at your usual time and establish set feeding times. Dogs benefit from a routine and there’s no better time to get started than the first day you bring your new pet home.

Pro Tip

Try hand feeding to encourage your dog to eat and build a bond at the same time. Hand feeding helps establish trust between the two of you, and also shows your dog that you have tasty treats to offer!

Take your dog outside at regular times to show him when and where it’s acceptable to use the bathroom. Accidents happen, though, so don’t get frustrated if you must clean up messes on occasion. This can be easy to remember if you’re house training a puppy who doesn’t know better but may be more frustrating when adopting an adult dog from a shelter or rescue. Remember that stress can affect your dog’s bathroom habits. Stay consistent and positive and your dog will soon learn what’s expected of him.

3. Have Some Fun

Spend some time having fun with your new dog or puppy with age-appropriate toys and playtime. It can be exciting to see which games your new dog enjoys most—like fetch or hide-and-seek—and which toys become fast favorites.

Balance play time with some quality rest and relaxation. Playing with your dog is a great way to help him release stress and anxiety, while inviting him to relax with you on the couch will make him feel secure and loved.

Two Paws up for Pawternity Leave

Does pawternity leave sound like a great idea to you? This special time to bond with your furry friend only comes around once. Make the most of it for a lifelong relationship of trust and love with your new furry companion.

If you’re fortunate enough to work for a pet-friendly company that offers pawternity leave, then take advantage of it! Otherwise, consider using PTO or arrange to adopt your new dog over a long weekend or other holiday leave.