Your First Steps in Being Your Dogs Best Friend by Sylvia Koczerzuk
The happy day has finally arrived: after months of reading books on dogs, deciding that you and your family are ready for the commitment that pet ownership brings, researching information on various breeds, breeders and/or rescues, and picking out the perfect companion, you are finally bringing your new forever friend home!!! Those first memories of your pet coming home will last a lifetime. But now you say to yourself, okay now what? It is easy to become anxious about whether things are going to work out. These fears are often due to unknown expectations, the odd “accident” perhaps a chewed shoe or knocked over vase….and yes you and your new friend will have a lot to learn.
One of the most important factors in welcoming a dog into a new home and ensuring its successful integration into your family is “patience.” This is intuitive for puppies but what is often not known that this applies equally for dogs of all ages. The need for patience cannot be overstated. This is the most important skill or attitude for new owners to have in order for them to help their new dog adjust to their new life.
Here are some helpful suggestions in making the transition easier for you and your new friend.
Bringing home your adopted dog can be an exciting, stressful and apprehensive time for your new dog. You have no idea what is going on in his or her head and it is impossible to explain to them what is going on and that they now have a new life.
Since there is not always a past history on a rescue dog and our new little friend cannot tell us what that was, (s)he will use his/her past experiences in his/her new interactions with you. If (s)he had good experiences he may be willing to trust you right away. If (s)he is fearful or has had earlier trauma (s)he may need a little more work on your part to allow him to be comfortable in his new surroundings. Remember it is a sad fact that many dogs have suffered, some even horribly, at the hands of careless or even abusive owners. And because your new friend cannot tell you what has happened, you will have to be understanding and yes, patient.
It is best to let the new dog catch up and let them have whatever time it takes to form a relationship with each family member in the house. Because each dog is unique, there is no exact guideline as to how long this will take. Some dogs will bond very quickly while others may take weeks. Many factors can affect this: the age and breed of the dog and as we noted above, the past experiences the has had. If for example the dog was injured by a child, there may be some trepidation around children. Every dog takes their own time to bond with their new family.
So how can you help your new friend in transitioning to his/her new home?
An excellent first step is to provide a designated area that can be uniquely his or hers. You will want this area to be their safe place. The area can either be set up with a crate (if (s)he crate trained), a puppy pen or a room which can securely be gated off. It is recommended to use an area that will include the smells and view of your family, since dogs are social animals this will help make him feel part of his new family. Often a combination of a crate and gate off safe place is recommended. Set up his or her bed with appropriate bedding, chew toys and water bowl in this area. It is best to initially keep him or her restricted to this area so (s)he does not get overwhelmed with the entire house. This area should be your new dog’s safe place where (s)he can become comfortable, think of it like his or her own bedroom. It is very important that if there are children in the home they understand that their new friends is not be disturbed when they are in this area. Dogs, regardless of age, can become (cranky??) if they are overtired and just as people need some private “down time” so do dogs This area can also be helpful for you in supervising him or her.
It is not unusual for many dogs that are housebroken to have an accident during their transition into their new home. The relapse of housetraining is often due to stress or feeling the urge to mark due to unfamiliar smells. The best way to deal with this is to continually take your new dog to his or her toilet area and positively reinforce for eliminating in the appropriate area (the concept of “positive reinforcement” as opposed to punishment is discussed in some of my other handouts). Avoiding accidents helps establish good housetraining. Establishing routines is important for your dog to understand and learn about his new home and life. So I strongly recommend that as soon as possible you establish a toileting routine and try to stick as close as possible to those times in order to establish a routine. Remember that if your dog is very young or very old, they will need to toileted more often until a routine is established. Whatever you do, please NEVER try to “train” your dog by forcing their nose into an area which they have soiled – that is archaic and cruel practice which will only scare and traumatize your dog.
I do recommend leaving a leash on your dog during the initial settling in period. It will sort of be like an umbilical cord. You can use the lead to take the dog to his new areas or when there is a need to gain control of him. The leash will allow you to stop your dog and redirect him or her, without startling them with your hands. Having the leash on him in the house may seem weird at first but both of you will get used to and it helps to understand that the leash is an extra safety precaution.
The first days: (from this point on we will use him/he to refer to your dog)
The best time to bring home your dog is when your household will be quiet (no visitors) and you will have time to spend with him. Most reputable breeders will not release puppies to new families during Christmas for instance because of the activity level in most homes at that time.
Once you get home with your dog take him around the yard for him to sniff, this will allow him to learn where they are. He will want to relieve himself and this will help to establish where his washroom is. Take him inside and introduce him to his bedroom and where he will be allowed. After you have introduced him to his bedroom take him outside to his washroom area. Usually dogs will want to relieve themselves after investigating. They like to mark their territory and stress does cause bladders and bowels to be more active. If he has had a long car/plane ride he will need a drink. If it’s a long one he will need to relieve himself shortly thereafter. Praise and reward him for relieving themselves outside. This will make a start on establishing that trusting bond between the two of you. Walk around with him on leash so he can take in the smells of his new backyard. Coax him with lots of happy talk. This will encourage him to follow you around, as he follows you, praise and reward him with food and/or tasty treats. While the subject of treats, if at all possible I strongly recommend the use of organic treats such as freeze-dried liver or chicken. These are healthy alternatives to many of the highly processed, high sugar, “treats” which can adversely affect your dog’s health.
At this time you may want to try and engage him in some play with a ball. Play is a great stress reliever, running and chasing the ball; while at the same time working on your relationship. If he she does not seem interested in play take a walk around the block using lots of happy talk, praise and rewards. Play and exercise are great stress relievers and will help your new dog feel better.
Once he is exercised, bring him back into the house to the area where the dog is expected to lie down and sit down next to him. You will want to observe his comfort level. Try to see if he will respond favourably to you by offering a treat/kibble. You basically want to find what will motivate your new dog to respond positively to you. Depending on his handle ability you can spend some time stroking him softly or doing some light massage.
When we take a dog from a different lifestyle and living environment it is important to establish a new daily routine, one that you and he can more or less count on. This will help them understand where they belong in the family and home.
Often owners will put off any kind of training for their dog in order to give them a “time off” and settling in period. Although you should not put all sorts of demands on the dog without knowing what he is capable of, you should start teaching your dog what is expected of them in their new environment. Do this in a calm and fair manner so you do not overwhelm your new dog.
We often see what is called a “honeymoon” period where dogs are holding back until they feel comfortable in their new surroundings. Once they are feeling more comfortable about you and their new surroundings you may find them giving unwanted behaviours. One great reason why it is beneficial to start immediately with training and showing your dog what you want from him. Remember to reward him for it. Reinforcing with rewards will make your dog more willing to comply.
Find out what motivates your new dog and use this for his rewards. You can use part of his daily ration of food as rewards and whatever is left at the end of the day can be given as his meal. This method helps eliminate over feeding your dog. I do not recommend leaving your dog’s food out all day which is referred to free feeding. You will want to monitor his intake of food. Favourite toys and games can be effective reinforcers. Find out what your new dog loves!
The use of Bach Flower Remedies are helpful during the first week or two of a pet being in it new environment if they seem overly stressed.
I recommend Rescue Remedy, which seems to have a stabilizing and calming effect in a variety of stressful situations. The Bach Flower Remedy Walnut is a good addition as it is described to be helpful for protection and constancy against outside influences during major periods of transition such as moving, breaking old and forming new relationships. The Bach Flower Remedies can be found in most health food stores. Many pet stores carry pet herbals so you may find a mixture for abandonment which will ease your new dog’s transition.
These remedies are best given on an empty stomach by dropping approx. 4-6 drops on the dogs tongue or gums. If this is not possible place the remedies on a piece of bread and give to dog. It can also be placed in his or her drinking water. Do not allow the dropper to come into contact with anything, as it will lose its effectiveness, as it is sterilized solution. This can be done 2 – 3 times per day as needed. You can increase or decrease the frequency depending on your dog’s response. Please check with your veterinarian before you administer any of these remedies in case they interact with any of your dogs medications.
An exercise regimen is important for every dog. I recommend at least one hour of exercise per day depending on the breed. Bigger breed dogs may need more exercise. Walks are great mental stimulation for your dog, beneficial to continuing or establishing socialization and good exercise. Training games at the park or in the back yard are fun for most dogs and tire dogs out physically and mentally.
A well-exercised dog is a well-behaved dog.
Stainless steel feeding and water bowls (2)
Crate either wire or plastic
Suitable bedding, each dog has their own likes and dislikes.
A collar with an ID tag, I recommend the martingale slip collar due to its ability to tighten if your dog tries to slip the collar.
A 6 foot leash for walks
A 20 foot drop cord that can be used on trail walks
Kong Toys, check out this link. for uses
Chuck it ball.
Dogs do have preferences to toys. You should always supervise your pet when you give them a new toy. This will enable you to learn how your dog interacts with toys, whether they are very destructive or gentle. As well if they are hard chewers you want to make sure they do not ingest any part of the toy. Soft toys can be a good choice as long as your dog does not ingest it in any way. Tearing and ripping a soft toy is excellent mental and jaw stimulation for your dog. Rawhides should be given with caution: quick ingesting which can cause blockage or tummy upset. Look for hard, non-bleached types that are sourced from Canada or America. Chinese dog treats have been found to have caused severe illness and even deaths in pets so please, do not give your pet food made in or from Chinese products.
Good Luck with your new friend!
House Training Your Puppy 101
Bringing home your new dog or puppy is a very exciting time. Your puppy is cuddly, warm and ready to be loved. House training can be an easy job if you put the time and patience into teaching your new puppy the basics. Your new puppy has no idea what the rules in your home are. For instance, when and where is it acceptable to go to the bathroom? Walkabout Canine Consulting has written out these effective guidelines to help you with the house training process.
One of the best ways to look at housetraining your puppy or new dog is like thinking of your savings account. The more your dog gets reinforced for outside elimination the more he is going to do so therefore more money in your back. The more accidents your dog has inside your home the harder it is and long time it takes to housetrain your dog which means money is taking out of your bank account. Remember that the dog doesn’t know where to go, if he does and has an accident perhaps you missed any signal or the time frame where your dog really needed to go outside to eliminate.
Some handy tools to help you
First you will need a crate. The crate serves a dual purpose; the first purpose is that it will act as a management tool to help you supervise your puppy when you are not able to. The second purpose is that it will be your dog’s den or bedroom. Dogs are natural den animals and are quite clean animals, so they do not like to urinate or defecate in their sleeping areas. Please note that your puppy will eliminate in his sleeping area if he is left in the crate for longer periods than he is ready for. If your crate is too big for your puppy, the extra space in the crate will allow your puppy to make a sleeping and potty area. The goal is to help your puppy learn that a crate is a positive and fun place. You can do this by feeding your puppy in the crate, tossing toys into the crate for the pup to chase, hiding treats in the crate, placing a Kong toy inside the crate and spending time in the room where the puppy is crated.
NOTE: Puppies raised in puppy mills and pet stores have often learned their crate is the only place to relieve themselves. They don’t have a concept of going to the bathroom outside. This can be a very difficult behaviour to modify but it can be done with lots of love and patience!
Obtain one or more baby gates to keep your new puppy confined to one room. This will help you keep track of your puppy and keep it away from potentially dangerous household goods such as cleaners, medicines and wires. You will need a leash to help lead your puppy into his elimination area. You can also use the leash as a management tool when you need to supervise your puppy inside the house.
You will want to have treats available that your dog will happily consume, these can be used as positive reinforcement for eliminating in the right place. A clicker can be a great tool in your progress for housetraining your puppy.
Where do I want my dog to go to bathroom?
Most owners would like their dogs to eliminate in their backyard. This is the writer’s preference because it makes housebreaking easier to learn for the puppy. You can teach your puppy to eliminate in one particular area of your backyard. This requires you to be diligent in taking your dog to that spot every time he or she needs to eliminate. After many weeks or months of your puppy eliminating in this area, it will become a habit for your pup and he or she will automatically go to his spot. Dogs like to eliminate on surfaces that seem to be absorbent, so they will choose grass over pavement, carpet over linoleum, mulch over grass and some pups even like the privacy of shrubs or bushes. This is helpful to know when planning where you want your puppy to eliminate.
Paper training is a method that owners often choose for tiny breeds, or while they are at work and their puppies are at home for longer periods during the day. We caution owners against this method as it often prolongs the task of housebreaking. Paper training teaches the puppy to eliminate inside the house, which is not as good as eliminating outside only. If inside elimination is needed while you are at work, we recommend using a surface similar to what the dog will be use when he or she relieves himself or herself. An example of this would be to obtain a piece of sod or fake grass and place it on a boot mat. You can use this inside method until your puppy is old enough to hold it for longer periods, when he or she will no longer need an inside bathroom. Those who work full time can a pet sitter who can let your puppy out to eliminate. This solution has several benefits. It will also allow your puppy to relieve some energy. If a pet sitter is not in your budget, some friends and neighbours can be easily bribed. Who doesn’t enjoy the opportunity of playing with a cuddly little puppy?
How often does my puppy need to go outside?
You need to understand that various conditions and activities typically stimulate puppies to eliminate. These include feeding, waking from sleep, playing, chewing, long periods in the crate and frequent drinking. Some pups get extremely excited when you return home; however, they urgently need to eliminate, so remember to get the puppy outside right away. When you first start house breaking your puppy you should take your puppy outside to eliminate every hour, and even more frequently for smaller breeds. Some puppies need to eliminate every 15 minutes if they have been playing or have had a very big drink of water. This regimen will allow your puppy to learn where he or she should go. It will also reduce any accidents inside the house. As your puppy ages, he will develop more bladder and bowel control, so you can start to extend the intervals you take your puppy outside by one half-hour increments. Don’t expect a lot of bladder control for puppies less than 3 months old.
Getting the message across
Begin to condition your puppy by using an elimination command word such as “potty” as you are taking your pup outside. Take your puppy, on leash, to the spot you have designated for elimination and continue using your command word in a normal tone. Once your puppy starts to eliminate, start praising your pup in a very soft calm tone - you don’t want to interrupt the process. As soon as your puppy has finished eliminating, praise him heartily, offer a tasty food reward or start playing. Using a word like “good” or “yes” which has been associated with a treat can make the learning process happen much faster. As soon as your puppy is finished you say “good” followed by a treat. Marking the behaviour quickly with a word which has the meaning of the treat will help the puppy learn faster.
When you take your puppy outside to eliminate and he or she refuses to go, walk in small circles with your pup. This will stimulate his or her bladder or bowels. If this does not work take your puppy back inside the house, place him in his crate, and wait approximately 20 – 30 minutes, and take him out again. This procedure will help teach your puppy bladder control and will aid in preventing any mistakes inside the house. Don’t be tempted to give the puppy freedom during this time, more often than not is when accidents happen.
How do I prevent mistakes?
Preventing your puppy from eliminating indoors can be the most challenging part of housetraining. Until your pup is housetrained you will need to provide constant supervision. This means he should be within eyesight of a responsible family member 100 percent of the time. Your leash, baby gates, and crate will help you keep your pup nearby. When you are unable to provide constant supervision, confine your puppy to the crate. Make sure you take your puppy outside to eliminate before confining it. Please do not use the crate for longer periods than the puppy can control his bladder or bowels. In other words, if your puppy can only hold it for three hours do not leave him or her in the crate for 5 hours.
Changes in weather can confuse your puppy. One day it is eliminating on grass and then, all of sudden, there is a wet white powder on the ground or vice versa. A little more persistence and patience may be needed while your puppy adjusts to these changes in weather. All puppies make a mistake, as well we as owners make a mistake. Be prepared and do not harshly discipline your puppy. Never hit your puppy! It is not fair and not effective. Corrections are only effective if you catch your puppy in the act of its mistake, or one second after. If this occurs use a quick stomp of the foot, or a harsh, “No” to interrupt your puppy. Then immediately take your puppy outdoors to finish. If you try to correct your pup a few seconds after his mistake, the puppy will not understand why he is being corrected. Harsh punishment will not be helpful as the puppy may learn not to eliminate in front of you, even outdoors.
When will the job be complete?
Your puppy is not considered housebroken until at least four to eight weeks have passed without an accident in the home.
Remember to be consistent and patient and your puppy will become housetrained before you know it.
If you are still having some concerns please contact us at 226-348-3948.
Playtime after training link -