Whether you adopted a puppy, an adolescent, or an adult dog, these tips can help you and your new dog start off right.
Teach your dog to love a crate, pen or a gated safe room, such as kitchen or laundry room. Confinement can help your dog learn proper housetraining and can prevent destructive chewing. To help your dog learn to love her crate or area, start by feeding in there, with door open. Then toss treats in crate or area and let her get them on her own. Do not close the dog in at first; after she has gone in a few times, feed her treats as she stands at the doorway before coming out. Use plenty of praise and the verbal cue ‘crate up’ as you toss treats in now. Close the door for a moment and feed a few treats through the door. Gradually work up to the dog spending longer time periods there and give the dog a good chew toy for longer time periods. Your dog will learn to love the ‘den’ feel of her crate.
Teach your Dog a Chew Toy Habit: Dogs are natural chewers and puppies need teething relief. Manage your house to prevent inappropriate chewing, using your crate or safe room for the dog when you are not home. Put your shoes, dirty laundry, garbage and other enticing household items that dogs might find fun to chew, out of sight. Offer your dog appropriate safe chewing items; there is an array of them to choose from. Food ‘puzzles’ such as Kongs, Bully Sticks, and even deer antlers are available for dog chews.
Exercise and Enrichment: Make sure to give your dog enough exercise. A brisk long walk, some safe off leash time or a game of fetch before you head out to work can help prevent excess energy coming out in destructive ways. Dogs like to interact and be with people; chose some games that you and your family would like to play with your dog, fetch, or just a walk in the woods are some good ideas. If your dog has a backyard, make sure they get some leash walks too, as dogs love to sniff around the neighborhood. If they are a city dog and walk on leash all the time, find a safe fenced-in area, such as the Joe Wex Dog Park, for some off leash time. If your dog is social, play with other dogs is good, but keep it to small groups, so you can keep the interactions safe.
Training: Teaching your dog some basic cues can help you and your dog learn to live happily with each other. Training will also help the dog and human gain some self control. It’s much more clear for the dog to understand one word cues like ‘sit’, ‘down’, and ‘drop’ rather than just saying “NO” all the time. Your dog can ‘sit’ instead of jumping, ‘sit’ for her dinner, and ‘sit’ for most any situation where “NO” was once your response or command. Recommendations to get started are ‘sit’and ‘Retrieve’ Training, which not only teaches a fetch but a ‘drop’. Enroll in a local humane ‘positive’ dog training class and your dog will learn even more, such as how to perform cues under distractions, and you are both sure to have fun learning together.
Have Patience: Your dog will need time to adjust and feel comfortable in your family and household. Have patience and empathy that it might be a stressful and confusing time for some dogs. They often show anxiety by chewing, over excitement, barking, and if fearful by shutting down, moving away and hiding. Be kind and go slow and let your dog’s personality come out at their own pace and you will truly have a great friend.