Guidelines for Bringing a Dog Home
Make sure that your schedule is very open. Make it easy for the dog to do well: put away shoes, belts, non-dog toys, expensive artifacts on low shelves.
Please be aware that all dogs that have spent time in a shelter may experience some confusion about where it’s okay to do their business. Thus, when you first take them home, follow them as they explore their new living space. If you see them start to urinate, gently interrupt them and take them outside. STAY outside until they do actually urinate and praise them heavily. To that end, try to keep them in sight for the first few days; if you don’t allow yourself the chance to catch the dogs as they make a mistake they may have a hard time learning the rules. Give them lots of chances to urinate and always praise them when they do. Be sure the last thing you do before bed and the very first thing you do as you wake in the morning is take the dog out. If the dog is pretty young it’s a good idea to set your alarm and get up in the middle of the night to take the dog out for at least the first three nights.
A Gentle Introduction to the World
Introduce the dog to your life slowly. Dogs are curious and enthusiastic beings, but just like humans, they can feel a little insecure when there’s a whole lot of change and new things in a short amount of time. Let them build up their confidence and trust in small stages; it will be easier on both of you.
It can be pretty overwhelmingly stimulating to come into a new home environment; it’s both wonderful and sometimes a bit taxing on the dog. In between the marvelous sessions of getting to know you and their new homes dogs need a place where they can retreat for some quiet time. In that space they should come to expect that no one will talk to them or pet them or try to play with them. Don’t worry, though, that they’ll feel neglected. They will certainly come and let you if they need your attention!
Dogs are by nature chewers; they find it reassuring and entertaining to GNAW. Keep plenty of safe things to chew on hand; stuffed sterile bones or kongs; an old rag knotted together with tasty stuff inside that they can tear apart; greenies etc. Keep things that are not supposed to chew on out of reach when they are unsupervised.
Leaving the Dog Alone
Introduce them to being alone slowly and early. Prepare an extra specifically stuffed kong, stuffed with AMAZING treats that you use only for this purpose. Give them the kong, let them get into chewing it and start by stepping out of the room for a few minutes at a time. Move gradually to longer periods away. The first time you leave them alone in the house should be short and you should stay close by and spy on them; try to return to the house before they get upset. Gradually increase the time away. Many recommend crate training which is along the same lines but invoices constraining their space to a cozy, well set up area. If your dog exhibits a ton of anxiety or becomes destructive when left alone, please consult a trainer as soon as possible.
We encourage training, especially employing the methods of positive reinforcement, for all dogs. Training is a great deal of fun for dogs and can be a whole of of fun for you once it becomes a part of your daily routine. It takes a whole lot less time than you might imagine; and since it’s time spent one on one with your dog it can’t help but enrich both of your lives. It will really benefit your relationship with the dog; you will understand one another better. Also, mental stimulation, along with physical excersize, is part of what contributes to a dog’s contentedness and sense of confiedence. Any age or breed of dog will benefit from training. If you don’t know a lot about it yourself, seek a class or some provate lessons. There are also many excellent books on the subject at our local independent bookstore, Chaucers, or online at DogWise.com or clickertraining.com.
Some Great Reading
You can find or order these either at Chaucers (Santa Barbara’s independent bookstore) or online at DogWise.com.
“Power of Positive Dog Training” by Pat Miller
“Culture Clash” by Jean Donaldson
“Don’t Shoot the Dog” by Karen Pryer
“The Other End of the Leash” by Patricia McConnell
“On Walking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals” by Turid Rugaas