Tips On Bringing Home A Shelter Dog
I thought a great ending to American Humane's Adopt-A-Dog Month would be to post tips on how to safely bring home your shelter dog.
Bark Busters, who uses dog-friendly training techniques, offered up these great tips.
Before You Bring Your New Dog Home:
Hold a family meeting to create rules about caring for the dog. Will he be allowed on the couch, the bed, and in all rooms of the house? Where will he sleep and eat? Who will be responsible for feeding? Who will walk him and clean up after him? As a family, you must all be consistent with your decisions or you will confuse the dog, typically resulting in the dog making his own rules and causing unnecessary tension, which can lead to undesirable behavior.
Have the necessary items your dog will need from the start: ID tags, a collar and a 6 foot leash, food and water bowls, food, dog toys, a crate and bedding, and basic grooming tools.
Plan to bring your new dog home on a weekend or when you can be home for a few days. You will want that time to get to know each other and to establish rules and a trusting relationship.
Just before you bring your dog into the home, take him for a walk to tire him out a little. Walks are not only good exercise, but they also serve as a training tool and an opportunity to establish yourself as the pack leader.
Establish Ground Rules in the First Days:At first, limit your dog to one room or area. Allow him time to familiarize himself with the smells and sounds of his new home. Try to limit your time away from home those first days; your spending time with him will help him to become more comfortable in his new home.
Keep your dog on leash for the first few weeks so you can immediately teach him what behaviors are and are not acceptable.
Expect housetraining accidents. Your dog is in a new territory and is establishing a new routine, so accidents probably will happen. Review housetraining information available from the shelter, your veterinarian or your local Bark Busters trainer. The key is to be consistent and maintain a routine.
Dogs instinctively like to den, and a crate makes the ideal place for your dog to sleep and get away from household hubbub. A crate also makes housetraining and training easier, but limit the amount of time the dog is crated. The crate should be roomy enough to allow your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. An alternative to a crate is to confine him in a dog-proofed part of your home, such as a laundry or mud room. You can use a baby gate or dog gate to block off the area from the rest of the house.
Most shelter dogs have been given basic vaccinations and many have already been spayed/neutered. It is important that your dog is examined by a veterinarian within a week after adoption for a health check.
For the first few days, limit guest visits to allow your dog to get comfortable with his new family. When you do have guests, ask their help in training your dog by instructing them to not pay attention to him until he has calmed down. One way to communicate this request is to post a sign on your front door informing visitors that you have a new dog in training.
A Trained Dog Makes for a Happy Human-Canine Bond:
Get guidance for training your dog. A well-trained dog is a happier dog and a joy to have around.
Dogs need a pack leader. If they don't have one, then they try to become the leader, which can create numerous behavioral problems. Thus, you--and all people in your home (other than children under 12)--need to be the pack leader. Practice obedience training, set rules and apply them calmly and consistently, and praise your dog's good behavior. He will see you as his pack leader and will bond more quickly to you.
It is amazing how quickly dogs learn what is acceptable and what is not. Dogs have a language of their own, and once we understand it, we can communicate better what we expect of them.
A Bright Future:
Hats off to you for bringing home a shelter dog! Your patience and training will help to create a bond that will reward you both for years to come. With the right balance of discipline, understanding and affection, your shelter dog will become a loyal, grateful and loving companion.
If you're interested in learning more about Bark Busters dog-friendly training techniques, which leverage the same communications methods - body language and voice control - that dogs follow as part of their instinctual pack mentality, stop by their site. All training takes place in the home.