You Adopted a New Dog-Congratulations! Now What?

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by Colleen Demling

You adopted a new dog? Congratulations! Your new family member will bring you laughter and love but how you introduce your dog to your house and your life will make a huge difference between success and STRESS!

Go Slow-You know your dog has found his forever home but he has no idea who you are or how long you will be around. Any dog that has been in rescue has been under stress and at some point in his life, people have proven themselves to be unreliable. As a result, it’s normal for your dog to pace, pant, drool, whine, bark, and even seem a little distant when you first bring him home. He is simply trying to figure out if he is safe and if you are really sticking around. To help him adjust, take him on a short walk when you first get home and then keep him on leash as you take him around the house and let him explore every room. You may have to do this several times with him in order to make your house, his home.

Newly dating- You are embarking on a new relationship with your dog and, just like a newly dating couple, time together should be stress free and fun. So although you may be dying to take your dog to the dog park, have all the neighbors over to meet him, or bring him to the local street festival, your dog would much prefer spending quality, quiet time at home with you for the first 2-3 weeks so that he can bond with you.

Rules Rule- Dogs are most happy when they have rules. Having a dog come into a new home is similar to you starting a new job. You are anxious to do well and want people to like you but when you ask your boss when you should be at work, what is expected of you, or even where you desk is, he doesn’t give you any clear guidance. Would you find that fun or stressful? The same is true for your dog. He wants to make you happy and in order to do that he needs to know what the rules are and how to succeed. Make sure he sits before you give him food, take him on a walk, or open a door. Keep him on leash in the house (when you are home) so that you can quickly stop and redirect him if he starts to do something wrong. Teach him basic obedience commands so you can communicate with him with words besides NO. Keep him off the furniture. Keep a routine so he knows when he is going to be fed and walked. All of these things will help him settle in quickly to your life which is what he wants most.

Supervision- Your new dog may not have lived in a house in a long time so keep an eye on him so you can provide the needed feedback to set him up for success. Assume that he isn’t housebroken. Close all the doors to spare rooms and make sure he is given frequent potty breaks. Give him amble toys to chew on and if he starts to destroy something he shouldn’t (for some dogs a chair looks like a fancy stick), tell him No, but then show him what he should chew on. Go out in the backyard with him so he doesn’t try to jump the fence or dig a hole. Watch him when he is around new dogs or kids so you can make sure he isn’t stressed and if he is uncomfortable, remove him from the situation.
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Forgiveness- This is the key to all healthy relationships. If your new dog pees in the house, destroys a pillow, barks at the neighborhood dog, or jumps on you, please remember that he isn’t trying to be a “bad dog”. He just needs you to give him some guidance, patience, and forgiveness as he learns how to be your “best dog”.

colleen demling

With over 8500 hours and 11 years of HANDS ON dog training experience, Pawtopia’s founder, Colleen Demling, has vast experience in a variety of methodologies. She is a CPDT-KA as well as an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator. She trained Service Dogs for Canine Companions for several years before starting Pawtopia. She has been featured in the local media and published in numerous national magazines including EPregnancy and Prevention. She designed the Temperament Test for the Therapy Dog Program at the Naval Medical Center San Diego and also writes monthly articles for many local rescues and other dog related websites. She has professional associations with the International Association of Canine Professionals and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

Colleen will be on the Pet Radio Show March 29, 2014.