Deciding to adopt a puppy or young dog from rescue can be such an exciting time.
Dog ownership can be a wonderful asset to family life and the right pet can be a valuable companion. Owning a dog has proven health benefits for the whole family such as reduced stress and better physical health.
However, while you might look forward to cosy cuddles and long walks with your gorgeous new addition, the reality might be a bit different! Our new rescue dog or puppy will have already have had experiences both good and bad, and we need to spend time getting to know them before we expect anything of them at all.
Luckily with careful planning, training and socialisation you will soon be on the path to happy dog ownership.
With a puppy or young dog expect lots of unwanted behaviour – biting, snapping, mouthing, jumping up, stealing and toileting are all to be expected. While we teach our puppy not to do these things our most important strategy is management – make sure there are plenty of things that you can out in their mouths and put away any things you don’t want them to put in their mouths.
Give new dogs and puppies some space. In my experience it can take up to 6 weeks for them to realise they have found their ‘forever home’, depending on their previous experiences. They might want to stay close and keep an eye on you, or they may want to watch from a safe distance. Let them do this! Be there is they want you to be, but don’t overwhelm them with kisses and cuddles.
Introduce some really easy training exercises to start with.
If you use a clicker and rewards you will immediately be speaking to them on their level and this will build their confidence and connection with you.
Sit is a simple exercise to teach, quick and easy. Use a treat to ‘lure’ the puppy into a sit and as soon as his bum hits the floor, click and treat!
I am a big believer in a good routine for puppies. Does your puppy know when to expect meals and walks? Do they know when it is time for them to have a nap? In busy households it is very easy for puppies to want to be involved all the time, and often they will start to get overtired if they don’t have regular naps. If they are overtired they may start mouthing, biting and jumping up more, and there are can be certain times of the day when this kicks in (quite often teatime or the evening)
If your puppy has had enough mental and physical stimulation he or she should be happy to settle down for naps afterwards. While we have to be careful about overexercising young puppies, and we can’t introduce them to unvaccinated dogs before they have completed their vaccination course, there are lots of other things we can do.
Socialisation is one of the most important parts of raising a well-behaved, happy and balanced dog. If your new dog is older than 6 months you my have missed the ‘magic’ window of opportunity for socialisation, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything.
Work through a socialisation programme with your puppy or young dog to flag up any problems early on and see what needs concentrating on.
Socialisation involves introducing your dog to as many different experiences as possible throughout his or her life, and the earlier you can do this, the better. In an ideal world you are aiming to introduce your dog to everything it may ever encounter, so it can be quite a daunting task for dog owners!
This checklist will help you;
The more people your dog can meet the better. A wide range of ages, shapes and sizes is best, as well as a range of types of clothing. Let visitors to your house and the postman make a fuss of your dog and reward calm behaviour with treats.
Introduce your dog to other animals like cats, horses, cows and sheep. Make sure you have control over your dog whilst doing this, particularly with livestock. Remember it is an offence to let your dog chase or worry livestock. Let your dog meet as many different breeds of dogs as possible, as often as possible. Make sure your dog meets dogs you know that are sociable and friendly. Always introduce new dogs to each other on neutral territory.
3. TRAFFIC AND TRAVEL
Car sickness is a big problem particularly with younger dogs. Make sure trips in the car often lead to pleasurable experiences like walks and trips to the park. Taking your dog on walks to the shops and to visit friends, through countryside and busy town streets will all help build up his or her confidence. If you are going to be using public transport such as buses or trains start with very short journeys.
Even if your dog isn’t a breed which needs a lot of grooming, he or she should be accustomed to being handled regularly. All dogs should be brushed regularly, even if its only every week. Regularly check your dog’s eyes, ears, mouth, teeth and paws to avoid ticklishness.
5. HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES
Lots of dogs are afraid of noisy household objects such as hoovers and hairdryers. Introduce them slowly and positively, starting off with very short exposure sessions.
6. ALONE TIME
All dogs should be used to being left alone. Build this up slowly over short periods of time, up to a maximum of 4 hours. If you are worried about them chewing try an indoor kennel. Leave toys, chews, water, and a snack such as a kong, so that being left alone is actually quite fun!
If small enough, carry your pup to the shops for a socialisation walk. Work on short 5 minute training sessions for basic manners or tricks. Prepare activity toys like Kongs and kibble balls so your puppy has to work for food. Hide treats around the house for puppy to sniff out.
The more we can focus their energy towards appropriate activities, the less energy they will have for activities that we don’t want them to do!
SO THERE ARE MY TOP TIPS FOR THE PERFECT RESCUE PUP!
I hope they help you!
Nicola Davies BA(Hons.) MAPDT 01059 CAP1
Contented Canines Training School
For the past 10 years Nicola has worked with hundreds of dogs and their owners in their own homes and classes, and in that time have resolved all kinds of problems.
Nicola also use her experience as a mum with young children to educate families training their new puppies or dogs.
Whether you have a specific problem to solve, need some help with the basics of dog training, or you want to start a new hobby with your dog, Nicola would love to show you what a difference me and my team can make to you and your dogs lives! Find out more about Nicola at her website here