Congratulations on Adopting Your Dog!
Choosing to adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue is a wonderful thing to do, as I have and most of my students.
Even though this may be one of the happiest moments of your life, you have to understand it can be a very challenging and stressful one for your dog.
For the majority of rescue dogs we do not know their history or what kind of life they have had. All dogs, regardless of breed, go through various stages of development. Most dogs who end up in shelters are returned during their adolescent period of 8-10 months. It is a difficult time for puppies that missed establishment of boundaries, socialization and training that can lead to many bad behaviors.
Here are few steps before the dog comes home:
- Buy an appropriate sized Crate, for most dogs a wire crate is fine. Some dogs do better in more enclosed "travel" type crates.
- If the dog is not potty/housetrained put away all the rugs
- Research a quality kibble or raw diet
- Pick up some Kong Toys to stuff, and comfy dog bed for outside of the crate as well.
- Find a local dog walker to help even if you work from home, it's a great to have a dog walker that your dog is comfortable with for any emergencies or extra busy days.
- Find a local trainer that can help guide you and your dog, and set you both up for success. Even for one session.
Many Dogs Experience a Honeymoon Period
This period can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months or longer. Every dog is different. Look at it as if you were dropped off in a foreign country, where you do not speak the language or even starting a new job. It would make sense that it might take a few days, weeks or even months to observe and adjust to the new environment.
Give Your Dog Time To Decompress And Take It All In Slowly.
The biggest mistake during this period is to give their dog too much too soon of anything, such as too much touching, talking, and affection. We need to let them "just be" and have time to smell an explore your home, supervised of course, and get to know you and their surroundings with plenty of exploring walks around the neighborhood.
When The Honeymoon Is Over
Many times I hear from dog owners that their dog was perfect for the first week or month and then they tell me "He’s never done this before.” Well now that the dog has become comfortable in the new environment, and the honeymoon is over. It's likely they are seeing the behaviors and reasons that led the previous owner to drop the dog off at the shelter or rescue, and many times they do not mention these issues to them.
But fear not, nearly any behavior can be addressed when you learn how to properly communicate with and set boundaries for your dog. It’s all about Bark, Train, and Love.
Create a quiet calm space for them to decompress such as their crate, it will become their safe place and can help in so many ways moving forward.
Many newly adopted dogs have not been taught to go potty while on leash or will hold their pee or poop, for a few days and even for a week until they are comfortable in the new environment. Help them adjust by feeding all meals in their crate and give them plenty of rest time in their crate as well so it becomes their safe place.
When you are not home you can also leave on dog calming music, Spotify has a wide selection as well as Amazon Prime, here is my dogs playlist.
Learn More About Your Dog's Body Language And What They Are Trying To Tell You.
Understanding your dog's body language is one of the most important things we as humans can do to help on our dogs. This video shows many of the signs we can look out for to advocate for our dogs.
It's important to understand dogs have 4 responses to any stressful situation fight, flight, avoid and acceptance. Dogs will rarely learn to accept without our help. Our dogs can’t tell us in words what they’re thinking, so once we learn how to understand their body language better, a whole world of communication with our dogs opens up and in turn a better relationship.
Play The "Name Game"
A great way to start your relationship with your dog once is to teach them their name. When you are training your dog it's most important that you have their attention. Work on their name recognition in many different environments. Have some fun with friends, family and or your roommate standing or sitting in a circle and practice name game.
Here are few videos playing the "Name Game";
Dogs Thrive On Structure, Rules And Boundaries
Continue to set your dog up for success by establishing clarity in communication and helping your dog learn what is expected of them in our crazy human world. From my experience as well as my mentors, structure, rules and boundaries are needed to help create a calm well adjusted dog in the home.
Start with some rules to set clear boundaries until you get to know your new dog better and especially until after their "honeymoon period". This will create a better relationship for all.
A few examples I recommend are not allowing your dog on the furniture, keeping their leash on in the home to help guide them to make good choices, proper use and rest in the crate and structured walks.
Training your dog helps close the communication gap between our species, on this page are some short training tutorials to get you started like by playing "Crate Games" the "Name Game", "Off", "Leave It" and the ever important "Place" cue.
Be consistent in what you ask your dog, every member of the household has to be on the same page. For instance if one member of the family allows the dog on the couch and the other does not, there is a good chance the dog will not know what the rule is and choose what is best for them, which is usually on the couch. By setting a clear rule that the couch is only allowed with permission and and a non - negotiable "Off" cue, that is a very clear rule your dog can understand as long as everyone is consistent.
Use Life’s Opportunity To Train
Finding time to train can be challenging at times. Use life’s natural moments to train such as on walks you can add "Heel" and a structured walking, "Sit" at all thresholds, corners and when you stop. On a long stop add a "Down" or work on their focus and attention. Remember any time there is something the dog might want to eat on the street or focus on you can use that to practice "Leave It". At home, practice "Place" and "Down" while you are watching TV, on the computer or reading a book, even while eating or preparing meal and when you know someone is coming over.
Our process involves the use of a crate to help create a calm dog when you are not home, scheduled rest periods, as well as a safe place to put your dog when the situation is too stressful for them during the process.
Just because a dog is housetrained at a fosters or previous home does not mean they will be in your home.
Crate training is one of the most effective ways to house train your dog, Most dogs like to keep their areas clean and the crate helps teach them to hold their pee and poop. Be consistent on the times you take the your dog out to go potty, try and have a set schedule. You can take your dog out more often, but there are certain times each day that are a given that your dog should go out.
Play "Crate Games" To Make A Positive Association With The Crate:
Have going into the crate a great thing, throw a treat into the crate and when your dog goes in mark with "Yes" or a click and reward, when your dog goes all the way in give your dog a few more treats as a "Jack pot".
All good things come from the crate, so any bully sticks, or high value chews, and all meals come in the the crate with the door closed.
Here are few videos playing the "Crate Game";
House Train Your Dog With 10 Minutes In 10 Minutes Out:
First thing in the morning take your dog outside for about 10 mins for a potty walk and if your dog doesn't go, then go home and put your dog back in their crate. Wait 10-15 mins mins and take your dog back out. Repeat this and when your dog does go potty reward with plenty of praise and treats. When your dog does go, start putting it on Cue by giving it a name such as "Go Potty" the more you build up their reward history the better your dog will understand. Once your dog is better house trained the walks can be less frequent and your dog will start to let you know when they have to go out.
If you catch your dog peeing or pooping in the home interrupt by clapping really loud and use a verbal correction of "Ehh Ehh" with a stern voice then take your dog right outside. When you are home tether your dog and watch for your dog to show signs that they need to go out.
Walking your dog is great way to build your relationship, and have your dog get more comfortable with you and the neighborhood.
Many dogs from the that come from more rural areas have not been on leash and the walk can become a nightmare. This is why in the beginning is so important to get everyone on the same page before any problems get worse.
Practice A Structured Walk
When walking your dog, I find it's best to walk with your dog in a structured manner, instead of having your dog pull you to say hi to every dog, and smell every tree. You should decide the pace of your walk and when your dog gets to go potty or have a sniff,
While walking your dog keep them on one side of you at your heel and release them from time to time to go sniff and smell where it is appropriate, Your dog can have as much time to go sniff and smell and explore as you like. But when it's time to go, your dog needs to understand to walk with you by your side. Over time this will make walk far more enjoyable for you both and in turn have longer walks.
I recommend getting the help of a local trainer to find the right tools and techniques for you and your dog to be successful walking your dog on a loose leash.
Just like wearing a seat belt when driving a car, we want to back up our dogs collars and harnesses for safety reasons. A simple back up can save your dogs life as you can see in the testimonial video above about how a back-up saved Hugos life.
I have also created a page to help guide on backing up a variety of tools.
Teach Your Dog To Just "Leave It"
The "Leave It" cue, is one of the most important things to teach our dogs, especially in cities with all the food, garbage and other interesting things on the streets our dogs want to investigate. Having our dogs understand not to eat everything they want is imperative and can even save their life.
Here are few videos playing the "Leave It";
Set Your Dog Up For Success With The "Place" To Be
The "Place" cue is a boundary stay that is a useful foundation behavior that can give you a great alternate behavior in many situations and help teach your dog to be calm in cue. When your dog is in “Place", they can sit, lie down, sleep, snore, scratch, or even better, play with an interactive toy.
This comes in handy in a number of daily activities. such as someone coming to the door, dinner time, TV time, and entertaining guest are all appropriate occasions to incorporate “Place”. It can also prevent unwanted begging, jumping, barking and other unwanted nuisance behaviors. To set your dog up for success I highly recommend using a raised bed or cot, my favorite is 4legs4pets
Here are some videos teaching and practicing the “Place” cue:
Is Your Dog Destructive or Barking When You're Gone?
Your dog might begin to feel anxious when you get ready to leave, as well as bark and destroy things when you are gone. Here are a few things that can help, as well as hiring a local trainer.
You can give them tasty stuffed Kongs with frozen peanut butter when you leave as well as when the dog walker leaves. Leave on dog calming music, Amazon Prime has a wide selection, here is my dogs playlist, Start playing the music about 10-15 mins before you leave as well as when you are home as well as not to form a departure cue.
Change Your "Departure Cues"
Dogs are great reading the signs and patterns we make as we get ready to leave. Change up your departure cue by getting ready to leave and sit back down. grab your keys and don’t leave. Change up your routine. Remember no big hello’s or goodbyes.
Practice "Graduated Departures"
Work on having your dog in the crate, and you being in another room. When your dog is quiet go back and mark with a click or verbal “Yes" and reward. Drop the treat in the crate don’t hand it to your dog,
Leave the apartment for, 5, 10, 20 then 30 secs, mark with a click or verbal “Yes" and reward. Leave and go to the elevator or down the hallway, then outside, down the street/corner each time mark and reward. Slowly adding more time. Practice being other rooms/out of site and your dog in the crate. As your dog learns a good Down-Stay and Place you can use these tools as well to get your dog comfortable away from you. The goal is to get to being away for 40 mins with a calm and quiet dog. Remember no big Hellos or Goodbyes
I highly recommend getting a remote camera or using a app to monitor your dog during this period, and see how they are doing while you are away. A bark collar might be an option but I like to start with training first and then possibly adding one. This would be a discussion with your local trainer.
Is Your Dog Fearful Of New People?
Many dogs that have not been properly socialized to the world and new people can form fears and you see this with new people coming into your home. Have new people come over so your dog can get comfortable with them, but do not force it. Let your dog approach them.
It's a good idea to have your dog be in their crate when new people come over in the beginning, especially while you are working on their training and learning more about your new dog. If you have a dog that is lunging, barking, nipping and biting people in the home please contact a local trainer today
Is Your Dog Fearful Of All The New Sounds?
The Sound Proof Puppy Training app is one of the tools I like to use to counter condition and desensitize to help make positive associations to all the new/scary sounds in our world.
Here is a quick video with an adorable 10 week old Cockapoo puppy Lola. We play everyday sounds and feed our dogs, here we are using Happy Howie's All Natural Dog Treats lamb food roll. You can also just feed you dog their meals while playing various sounds and use marker training and clicker training.
Having Fun Is Also A Very Important Part Of Training Too.
Through training we build a better relationship with our dogs, so rewarding with play during training break or as the reward for good behavior is a great way to have fun with the training. Teaching your dog a new trick such as roll over or puppy push ups is always fun. Playing a proper game of Tug can be a biologically fulfilling exercise and reward. You should always initiate and end the game as well. If your dog gets overly excited, stop the game and ignore them.
Is Your New Dog Going To Live With Another Dog At Home?
If you already have a dog in your home and you are bringing in a new dog home many of what we discussed above applies for both dogs.
The video of Penny & Charlotte is heartwarming story about when a the new foster dog, Charlotte and Penny did not have a great start.
As for meeting other new dogs here is a great step by step guide to introducing dogs .
This is just some foundation training and information to help set you up for success.
I hope this information helps you and your new dog and I wish you all the best.
If you are in Brooklyn NY, I would be glad to help you and your dog live better lives together.