KUSA - When you make the decision to add a companion to your life, whether it is a small puppy or a grown dog (both of which you can find in shelters and rescues) you are at the beginning of what you hope is a long relationship.
I believe what you do in the beginning lays the foundation on which your relationship is built. So, to have the best outcome you should follow a few guidelines.
Be prepared before bringing your new dog home. Besides the usual supplies have a dog tag with your contact information on it and put that on the dog right away. Escaping is the number one problem with adopted dogs so keep them on leash and make sure your information is on them from the very beginning.
Plan a few days off work to bond with your new dog and allow them to bond with your immediate family. Don't invite a ton of friends over or take them all around town. They have enough to deal with making the transition from the shelter to your home, you don't want to overwhelm them with a bunch of strangers. There is plenty of time for that later.
Once you get home don't give them full access to your house. Give them a tour of the home while on leash and them allow them to decompress in a dog safe area.
During the first week you should expose them to your home a room at a time while they are supervised and after they have eliminated outside.
Confinement, whether it is a crate or a dog proof room, isn't mean to the dog. It gives them a safe place to relax and allows you to monitor them when they are free. This prevents them from having housetraining accidents or damaging your possessions. It is far easier to give household privileges as they earn them than to take them away when they make mistakes.
Next, assume your new dog is not potty trained. A grown dog may be housetrained but they don't know your house and they don't know where the toilet is. It is your job to show them. Go back to housetraining 101. Take them out on leash regularly to the toilet area. Wait and reward them immediately after they eliminate. Take rewards with you. If you reward when you get back into the house you are teaching them coming in from the yard is good, not eliminating on the grass is good. This is also a good time to teach them a cue "do your business, go potty, hurry up" that you can then use later.
If they have an accident in the house, don't get angry at them. If you catch them in the act, clap your hands to distract them and then hustle them outside. If you find it after the fact don't yell at them or rub their nose in it. This doesn't teach them eliminating in the house is wrong. It teaches them that they should sneak off to eliminate. Clean it up and resolve to take them outside more and to watch them better when they are inside. Soon you will know their signals that they have to potty and they will know where they should go-outside.
I believe the most important thing to do for your new dog is to train it. A well behaved dog is a pleasure to have around and is welcome wherever you go. Training is more than doing what you ask. It helps your dog settle in, become a polite member of the family and most importantly it helps you bond with your dog and strengthen your relationship. Training should be a positive and fun experience for both you and the dog.
Colorado is fortunate to have a wealth of great dog trainers and many of them, like me, are affordable for anyone. Many offer both classes and private sessions as well as discounts for rescues. Training isn't just for puppies or aggressive dogs, every dog can benefit from training.
January is National Train Your Dog month and training can take a naughty dog and make them good. Or take a good dog and make them great.
And most of all, remember to be patient. Your new dog has to learn all about you and you have to learn all about them. It may be love at first sight but we know a great relationship takes time.
-- Written by Jennifer Skiba with Namastay Training
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