Tag: adopting

Successful Dog Adoption – The First Week

00TrainingTags: , ,

Adopting a new dog is a very exciting time for you and your new friend. The biggest mistake that new dog owners make is giving the dog too much freedom, too soon. By setting some ground rules as soon as you bring your dog home, you can prevent bad behaviors from starting in the first place.

Puppy for Adoption

Follow some simple guidelines when you bring your new dog home, and things will go much more smoothly. (Photo Credit: Ian Phillips)

Introduce the dog to the house slowly. Giving your dog complete access to the entire house is setting yourself up for failure. The dog can easily sneak off and discover how much fun it is to steal shoes from your closet, pull tissues from the trash can in the bathroom, or pee on the rug in the spare bedroom.

Instead, use x-pens or baby gates to limit the dog’s access to most rooms of the house. Start off by giving him access to the living room, kitchen, and dining room, and then gradually add a room at a time over the course of a week or two.

Don’t make assumptions about the dog’s past. Typically, fearful behaviors point to a lack of socialization, not abuse. If your new dog is afraid of men, it’s unlikely that she was abused by one — it’s far more likely that she was raised by a woman and didn’t meet many, if any, men as a young puppy. Take it slow, and if your dog is showing significant fear, contact a dog trainer to help you develop a training plan to address those fears in a humane fashion.

If the dog was at a shelter and not in a foster home, it is possible that the dog has very little experience with life in a house or an apartment. This is very common with ex-racing greyhounds — often they do not know how to go up and down stairs and are startled by things like overhead cabinets, blowing curtains, or the whistle of the tea kettle.

Boxer in a Crate

A crate, sized appropriately for your new dog, will be a useful tool when you bring your new dog home. Use a crate or x-pen to temporarily confine your dog while you are too busy to supervise him. (Photo Credit: Celeste Lindell)

Treat the dog as if he is not housebroken. Even if the foster owner swears on her life that the dog you have adopted is housebroken, it is extremely common for dogs to “forget” their housebreaking in a new situation. Therefore, take your new dog out for potty breaks often. A good rule of thumb is to take the dog out every hour when he is awake.

If the dog has spent lots of time in a shelter environment and has not been fostered, expect to start from scratch when you bring him home. Crate the dog when you cannot supervise him to make sure he doesn’t find a quiet corner to do his business while you’re distracted.

It’s so much better to be pleasantly surprised by your new dog’s level of house training, rather than upset and disappointed by her accidents!

Resist the urge to bring your new dog out in public right away. Moving into a new home is often extremely stressful to an adult dog. Don’t stress the dog further by bringing him to your family cookout, your son’s baseball game, or to the dog park. Doing so may overwhelm the dog to the point of growling or snapping at something that normally would not bother him at all. I have seen dogs returned to shelters for this very reason.

Give the dog at least a week to get used to the schedule of your house and learn to trust you a bit. The only place your dog should go is to the veterinarian for a full check-up shortly after adoption. Sign up for a group training class that starts two or three weeks after your adult dog comes home. (One to two weeks of acclimation time is enough for younger pups under 5 months of age.)

In short, take it slow with your new adoption. Overwhelming her will only serve to stress her out and delay that trust. Haste makes waste! You will have plenty of time to show her the whole house or take her to a friend’s soccer game. Give your dog time to learn to trust you, and you will set yourself up for a lifetime of great experiences with her.

Choosing A Best Friend: What to Consider When Finding a New Dog

00Helpful Hints, PuppiesTags: , ,

There are so many choices when it comes to adding a new dog to your household. There are hundreds of breeds to choose from, not to mention the thousands of wonderful dogs in shelters across the country. If you have never had a dog before, or haven’t had one since childhood, it can be overwhelming! Here are some things to consider when adding a dog to your family.

Not all dogs would be so tolerant of this child’s advances! (Photo Credit: Giulio Nepi)

Do you have children? Dogs weighing less than ten pounds are not recommended for homes with very small children as they will not handle roughhousing well.

Terrier breeds can get nippy with small children due to their heightened “prey drive” – they have a strong desire to go after small, fast moving things that make high pitched noises. Toddlers fall into that category. For that reason, I also don’t recommend terriers for households with small pets.

When choosing a dog for a home with young children, consider a medium to large sized dog with a stable, easy-going, happy-go-lucky temperament. Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers, and mixes of those breeds, are popular choices because they tend to fit this description.

If you are a busy parent, consider adopting or purchasing an older puppy or an adult dog. Puppies require lots of socialization and training, and most working parents are just too busy to add that to their to-do list.

Consider the dog’s energy level and compare it to yours. If you are busy and don’t have a lot of time to be active with your dog, consider a smaller laid back dog like a Bassett Hound or some of the larger toy breeds.

If you’re just looking for a buddy to hang out with around the house, consider adopting a senior dog. Older dogs are often dumped into shelters once their owners decide they can’t handle their special needs such as increased vet costs, medication, and physical ailments. They are less likely to be adopted than younger, spritely dogs, but they make wonderful companions.

If you are active and love to go for walks or hikes, or could imagine spending your evenings playing fetch in the backyard, consider a dog from the Herding group, such as a Border Collie or Shetland Sheepdog. Shelters are full of these high-energy dogs that are surrendered for being “crazy” or “too much dog” for their laid-back owners. In reality, most of those dogs just need more exercise and a bit of training.

Dalmatian in Window

Not all dogs are suitable for apartment living. (Photo Credit: Daniel Sancho)

What are your living arrangements? Many home owners’ insurance policies have a “blacklist” of breeds they will not cover. Check with your insurance agent before adding a dog to your household. (I cannot have a Yorkshire Terrier under my policy!) This also makes renting tricky. I spoke with a dog-friendly landlord who grew up with German Shepherds but cannot allow them to live on her properties due to her insurance policy.

Are you living in an apartment now, or could be in the future? Often apartment complexes have policies that dogs must be under 20 or 25 pounds, so consider a small dog. Avoid breeds that are known for excessive, loud barking. Many hounds are notorious for barking and are not a good choice for apartment living.

What kind of grooming are you prepared to provide? So-called “non-shedding” dogs (which actually DO shed) such as Poodles and Poodle mixes require frequent grooming as their hair type mats easily and must be trimmed often.

Professional grooming costs vary from location to location, but expect to spend about $50 plus a tip for a good grooming for almost any dog in this area (Rhode Island). Long coated breeds such as Irish Setters, English Springer Spaniels, and Collies need to be brushed out a couple of times per week, and professionally groomed every 5-6 weeks. And don’t forget the drool that comes with many giant breed dogs such as Newfoundlands and Great Danes!

Before bringing any dog home, be sure you are committed to caring for that dog for its entire lifetime. Ask yourself: am I financially prepared for a sudden vet bill? Do I have the time to devote to training this dog? Is this dog a good fit for my lifestyle? Is now a good time to add a dog to my household? If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, you are setting yourself and the dog up for failure. Dogs are not disposable! Surrendering a dog to a shelter should only be done as an absolute last resort. Be sure you are truly ready for the responsibility of dog ownership.