Congratulations on your new furry friend!
We realize that you and your family are excited to start your new life together but remember this is a big change for everyone so please take it slow and give your new pup time to adjust.
Patience is key to having a happy and well-adjusted companion for years to come.
Tips for the first week or two:
- Always keep a leash on your dog so you can quickly gain control, even inside your house (see more below).
- Allow your dog to settle in and become confident before taking them on public outings or visitors.
- Feed your dog in a separate area away from children and other animals for their safety. We always recommending that you feed in the crate.
- Use rewards and positive interactions to train your dog. Taysia Blue Rescue does not advocate any type of negative-based training including, but not limited to, physical punishment, prong collars, shock collars or e-collars.
- Expect a few accidents. Remember your home and routine is new to your dog. You will need to show and teach your dog what you expect and want.
- Help your dog get acclimated to a crate by using food and high value treats. Remember, the crate should not be used for punishment - only good things happen in a crate.
- If you have multiple dogs, be sure to pick up toys, bones, chews, etc. that could trigger a fight. Over time you can redistribute them as the dogs adjust to each other or only use them when dogs are separate.
- Make sure an attentive adult supervises all interactions between children and your new dog. If an adult cannot supervise interactions, put the dog in the crate or in another room.
- Pay attention to your dog’s body language so you can remove him/her if they become stressed or scared. Learn more about dog body language here.
- Be watchful when your dog goes outside as secure fences are not always as secure as you think, they can dig under quickly and some will scale even high privacy fences. Always accompany your dog outside or keep a close eye on them.
- Watch for door dashers - use caution when people come and go, as many dogs will bolt out the door when they get a chance.
Keep the Leash On!
Keep a collar and lightweight leash on your dog inside for the first few days or longer if needed. If you need to quickly stop or redirect your new dog to a different activity you can quickly step on the leash and then easily use it to move him/her in a non-threatening manner. Grabbing a dog’s collar can be startling and some dogs have sensitivity to this which can result in a bite.
For dogs that get into mischief when unattended, you can also fasten a long leash to the belt loop of your pants or tie around your waist so they are always close by you.
Setting Up Your Home
Good management of the home environment will allow your new dog to explore and become accustomed to the new home without getting into trouble. Demands and expectations of the new dog should be few during this transition period.
Dog proof your home by looking for anything that the dog might be able to chew on, pull off, or knock over. Dogs are very curious, explorations could lead to destroyed property, or injury to the dog. Huskies and Malamutes are tall enough to counter surf, be sure to keep tempting food items clear from their reach.
Use physical barriers such as crates and baby gates to limit access to areas of your house where you don’t want your dog to go. This is advisable during the first few weeks to keep kids and other resident pets safe, especially if you are not able to supervise the interactions. We suggest keeping the new dog out of the kitchen and dining room areas during food prep and mealtime to prevent any food related altercations.
Once your dog has acclimated and is comfortable with you, your routine, and your expectations and once you are comfortable with your interactions, you can begin to give them more freedom of choice.
No Parties, hugs, or kisses
We know you are excited to show off your new dog to friends and family, but your new dog is experiencing a lot of change, so we recommend that the first week or two is low key. Limit visitors and outings until you get to know each other and are comfortable.
Allow the dog to initiate interactions. The way we as humans show affection can be scary and intimidating to a dog. Dogs generally don’t like to be hugged or cuddled, it’s confining to them and they might misinterpret your affectionate behavior as threatening or scary.
Monitor interactions between your new dog and other pets until you are sure everyone is comfortable with the new living situation. Don’t leave your new dog and your resident pet(s) alone together; separate them initially when they are not being supervised.
Establish a Routines
Dogs love routine and rules. Try to establish a consistent routine and schedule with your new dog as soon as possible. This includes yard time, walks, mealtimes, training, and quiet time.
Do not forget your other pets, make sure they are getting lots of attention as you integrate your new dog.
Feed your dog measured meals instead of allowing them to graze or free feed throughout the day. Simply allow your dog 10-15 minutes to eat and then pick the food up until the dog’s next feeding time. This is especially important in a multi dog home.
Provide a quiet place for your dog(s) to eat meals. We suggest feeding in the dog’s crate or in a separate room where no other dogs are present. We suggest you incorporate training at mealtime, this is the perfect opportunity to teach your dog to “sit”, “down”, “shake”, “wait” and give him handfuls of kibble. Your dog will quickly learn that working for rewards is fun and that good things come from human hands. Once you set the bowl down, do not bother him while he is eating. Some dogs will guard their food and bowls. It is best to have an adult supervise during feeding times, please don’t give this responsibility to your children.
Provide Outlets for Stress
Provide a quiet place for the dog to relax and get away. If you have a busy household with children or high energy pets, your dog needs a place to get away from the commotion. If your dog shows signs of stress help them find a quiet spot to relax. White noise, NPR, classical music can be helpful.
Walks can be a physical outlet as well as a mental outlet, but they are typically two different things and your dog needs both. Brisk walks and runs are important to your dog’s physical wellbeing, but just like you are energized after a workout, so is your dog. Walks that allow your dog to sniff and explore will help provide mental relaxation.
Other mental exercise can be as simple as searching out kibble tossed on the floor or the use puzzle feeders, snuffle mats and interactive toys.
The Problem with Punishment
A common misconception about the dog-human relationship is that dogs are pack animals and are motivated to achieve a higher status relative to other dogs or people within a hierarchy. This idea that dogs have a desire to dominate their owner has perpetuated the use of forceful, punishment-based training methods meant to ‘show their dog who is the boss’. Aversive methods such as force, threats, fear, pain, intimidation, physical punishment and dominance are not necessary for training a dog.
Studies have shown that punishment-based training damages relationships; breeds mistrust, and teach dogs that humans are unpredictable.
Punishment-based training tries to inhibit behavior but does not teach the dog what is expected of him. Dogs are often punished for exhibiting natural dog behaviors that humans find unacceptable for one reason or another. Since the behavior is normal in the dog’s mind, he becomes confused and often defensive. For these reasons we do not advocate the use of punishment-based shock or prong collars.
Dogs see people as social companions, not pack leaders. For these reasons, the most effective means of training a dog is using reward-based training to build cooperative relationships between owners and their pets. By reinforcing, or rewarding, behaviors you like and want to continue, you set your dog up for success.
What Is A Reinforcer?
Simply put, a reinforcer is a reward that makes the behavior stronger (it is reinforced). These can include verbal praise, high-value treats (small pieces of chicken or hot dog), low value treat (kibble), access to a toy or ball – pretty much anything a dog likes. When using positive reinforcement, you focus on the behavior you want rather than the behavior you don’t want. Use treats and rewards to reinforce that behavior.
Work for it
Have your dog sit before it gets meals, treats, petting, or going outside. Any time your dog wants something from you, ask for a sit, down, or shake. Allow your dog to earn their freedoms (e.g., being unsupervised out of the kennel, being allowed on furniture, etc.).
When a new dog comes into your home all toys and bones should be picked up and slowly introduced after several days or weeks in some cases in multiple dog homes. If a dog is showing possessiveness of toys or bones, then opt for items that have less value or even none. Sometimes this is easily managed by giving the dog a prized possession while crated but watch out for items that could be a choking hazard and monitor.
If your dog guards’ items, you can work to correct this behavior by playing Exchange Games. To do this start with giving them a low value item and offer them a higher value in exchange. Tell the dog to ‘drop it’ When the dog takes that higher value item and give the dog a positive marker word like “good dog” or “yes”. Continue to exchange items using “drop it” and your marker word and work up to high value items with the goal to have the dog drop the item upon command.
Expect Some Accidents
Even if your dog was house-trained in foster care, your house is new, and your routine is going to be different so start from the beginning as if your dog was a little puppy. Establish a routine to “go outside” after means. Keep an eye on your new dog to observe movements and behavior that indicates he may have to eliminate.
Take your new dog to the door they will be using and say, “go outside”. Take them out to the yard on leash and let them sniff and get used to the area. If they eliminate, praise them with a ‘good dog’. If they do not go, that is okay, take them inside for 15 minutes and try again.
Plan for frequent trips outside at least every 30-60 minutes the first several days until you know their time limit and routine. The usual times that dogs need to eliminate are first thing in the morning, after nap or playtime, after eating or drinking and at bedtime. Don’t wait for your dog to “tell” you that he/she needs to go, since you might not pick up on cues until you get to know him/her better.
If you catch your dog trying to eliminate in the house, simply interrupt the behavior with a loud clap and redirect him/her quickly outside where they can earn a treat for getting it right. Never punish a dog by rubbing their nose in their urine or feces. Dogs do not understand punishment after the fact, and it will only make them fearful of you. If you find a mess in the house, just clean it up and keep trying.
Training your dog to enjoy a crate is one of the best ways you can help your dog adjust to a new home. A crate can be used to keep your dog from having accidents in the house, give them a place to de-stress, prevent them from damaging property, and keep them from other people or dogs when needed. When introduced properly your dog will come to see the crate as a place to relax and feel safe.
Crates come in two basic types: wire or plastic. Both crates can work well, and the choice is based on the dog and your personal preference. The crate should be large enough for your adult dog to stand, sit, turn around and lie down comfortably. If you give them too much room, they might find it convenient to eliminate in the crate and it can also give them leverage to find ways to escape.
Make the Crate a Positive Place
Crates are not meant for punishing a dog, the dog’s crate should be their safe and happy space. That doesn’t happen overnight, you will help to help show your dog that only good things happen in the crate.
Put surprise treats in the crate for him to find and encourage investigation. Toss favorite toys in the crate and allow your dog to get them and bring them out.
Feed all meals in the crate to help the dog make a positive association with the crate. If a dog will not go in the crate to get his meal, you may need to set the bowl in front of the crate and after several days slowly move it inside. Another trick is to set the bowl in the crate and then shut the door, with the dog on the outside. After a minute or so the dog may be very excited to go in the crate.
Try the same method with a frozen stuffed Kong or high value treat/toy, something he/she only gets in the crate. To start, place the crate where you spend the most time. Fill the crate with fun treats and items with the door open.
Once your dog is going into the crate on her own, start closing the door for short periods of time and increase time slowly with the dog’s comfort level. Avoid shutting the door if the dog is panicked. The goal is to teach your dog to want to be in the crate and timing is individual for all dogs.
Be aware of the behaviors your dog is displaying before opening the door to let her out. Only open the door when your dog is calm and quiet. If you let a dog out when they are barking, whining, or pawing at the door, they will learn that those behaviors help get them out of the kennel.
Avoid doing these crate games when other dogs are present and always be sure that children are never allowed inside the crate with the dog.
Training Your Dog to “Go Kennel”
Once your dog is comfortable going into the crate, say, “Kennel” as he/she goes inside and reward at the back of the crate. Practice the dog going in and out multiple times a day.
Crating for Longer Periods of Time
Crate training your dog for times when you need to leave the house is important. Help set him/her up to succeed with these helpful suggestions:
- Allow your dog to go potty outside before crating.
- Provide him with proper exercise before and after being crated.
- Stuffed Kong toys can keep them busy and can make their crate time more enjoyable.
- Leave the TV or radio on – this will help block out outside noises that can cause concern to your dog.
Confinement Issues and Separation Anxiety
Constant barking, whining, drooling, chewing bars, digging, scratching, etc. might indicate that your dog has issues with confinement. Try very brief absences in a room to see if that is more appealing. Watching on a webcam to observe the behaviors can be helpful. If the dog is eliminating, chewing, or scratching at exit points or excessively drooling, this could be separation anxiety.
It is possible that this could be part of your new dog’s adjustment to a new home or they may have never been properly crate trained. As your dog begins to feel secure in the new home and is trained in a positive manner, most times these behaviors resolve. If these behaviors continue after the first several weeks you may need to seek help.
Canine Body Language
Dogs speak volumes to us through their body language, we just need to learn how to recognize what they are telling us.
When a dog growls, they are telling us that they want us to stop or back off. It’s far better to listen than to punish the growl as they are giving us a warning and we should listen.
Other signs of stress include panting, pacing, scanning the environment, sweaty paws, whale eye (whites of eyes showing), trembling, turning away of head or body, backing away, yawning, cowering, drooling, licking lips, freezing in place, and hiding. A fearful dog may bite, so if you notice your dog is getting increasingly uncomfortable, try to determine the cause, help your dog find a safe space or eliminate the problem. Learn more about dog body language here.
Ladder of Aggression
Dogs will give gestures and warnings when they become stressed. These may start off as subtle behaviors like blinking and nose licking. If the situation causing the stress continues, their responses may escalate into aggression.
Stress behavior will increase as they become more and more fearful, anxious, or stressed. At first, they will try to tell you they are feeling worried and need space. If ignored a dog’s behavior can quickly escalate to extreme responses like low growling, baring their teeth, snapping, and biting to get them out of the uncomfortable situation.
You can prevent a dog bite by removing the thing in the environment that is causing them stress or fear. If you notice your dog is displaying these behaviors remove the dog or the stressor in the environment immediately, and avoid situations, people, dogs, and places that cause this reaction from your dog. With proper training you can slowly work on these fears.
Human Body Language
Always be aware of how your body language makes a dog feel. Go slow and let the dog initiate the contact. Direct eye contact, rushing up, reaching over a dog’s head to pet, sudden or exaggerated movements are very scary for dogs, especially when they do not know the person. It is the responsibility of adult owners to teach children what is and is not appropriate.
Dogs and Kids
If you are expecting a baby or have children and planning to add a dog to your family, there is some great information out there by experts that really know what they are talking about! We suggest you check out these wonderful tools and resources.
The Art & Science of Animal Behavior, dog behavior resources