Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bringing Fido home! Part 1-Getting acclimated

Getting acclimated/housetraining helpers:
  • When you bring your new dog home, leash-walk so that he can take in the smells of the turf and relieve himself. Pick a special place and encourage him to potty there. Be patient; it may take 10 or 15 minutes. Always praise warmly when he relieves himself in an approved spot.
  • Next, enter the house and show him around. Keep him on leash. If he lifts his leg, give him a quick leash correction (slight yank on the leash and release) and tell him "No" to disrupt the action, then take him outside immediately. Offer him a treat for going in the right place.
  • Remember, your dog will be excited and anxious about his new home. Don't be surprised at panting and pacing, housetraining accidents, excessive drinking or chewing, or gastric upset. In addition, any dog, especially a male who was not neutered early, is likely to mark new territory - especially if other pets have lived there. Tell every member of your family to resist the temptation to overwhelm a new dog. Give him some time and space to get settled.
  • Scolding and shouting will only confuse the dog. Positive reinforcement with treats and love are the best training tools.
  • Next, take him to his crate. Encourage him to sniff around; reward him with small treats for entering and staying in the crate. Keep soft bedding and safe toys in the crate; rotate the toys for variety.
  • Crate facts. Housetraining problems are the top reason people give up dogs. Crates aid in housetraining because of dogs' den instincts - they avoid messing where they sleep. Crating is cruel only if the dog is physically uncomfortable or if left too often or too long. Limit crating to 4-5 hours maximum a day.
  • Teach your dog that good things come in the crate. Place appealing toys in the crate; feed in the crate. Stay in the room awhile and praise when the dog rests calmly in the crate. Resist letting the dog out if she cries. However, if she has to relieve herself, honor that. Over the transition period, gradually open the crate door and increase the number of rooms to which she has access.
  • After the house tour, take him outside to potty again. Be sure to take him to the same spot.
Having a few accidents the first week does not mean a dog is not housebroken. Take the dog out more often for the first few days. You can use a leash indoors during the transition: For the first couple of weeks, you can stop him immediately if he starts doing something you don't want - such as lifting his leg, chewing on a chair leg, jumping on the couch, or signaling aggression towards anyone in the household.
Dogs thrive on routine, so orient your new companion to your schedule. As long as you are consistent and provide leadership, the dog will adjust.

Your dog will want to explore everything, so puppy-proof your house (place shoes inside closets, put electrical cords out of reach, move prized objects to higher ground), or limit access to the room you are in.

During the transition period, a dog needs time to adjust to the rules and schedule of your household. And he needs your leadership! A dog is a pack animal looking for guidance. Establish yourself as alpha by commanding the leash, personally giving him food, using obedience training. Details to be covered in another part.

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