Here is some helpful information to get you and your new dog off to a
If you already own a dog and
are considering acquiring another, one of the best things you can do prior
to adoption is to bring your current dog with you to meet his potential
new buddy. Introductions are always completed best on neutral
territory, where neither dog feels threatened or feels the need to defend
Ideally, find a fenced yard or other large
area where the dogs can be slowly introduced while on leash. Make
sure you have the help of another person to assist in the
introduction. Sometimes one dog may be overly exuberant and
intimidating to his new friend. In this case, take the dogs
for a walk, side-by-side, with you walking your own dog, and your
helper or other family member walking the newcomer. Keep
walking for five minutes or so, allowing the dogs to both settle
down enough to decrease the over-excitement. When you feel
like both dogs can interact without one dog feeling threatened, let
both dogs off-leash to play freely.
using this method of introductions, a lot of snarling, growling and
hair-raising is easily avoided. Provided both dogs seem to approve
of one another, they can both go home as pals as opposed to being
introduced on your current dog's home turf where he may feel the need to be
defensive and protective.
If the above scenario is not
possible, then you'll need to recruit a volunteer. When your new dog
arrives home, arrange to have someone walk him down the street. You,
of course, will need to take your new friend on a nice little walk where he can be
introduced to your current dog. While not all dogs require such effort
for introductions, it is definitely the easiest way to encourage a smooth
transition for both dogs.
Now that the canine intros are
completed, what about introducing your new dog to the feline family
member? The method that you use for this will largely depend on your
dog's previous exposure to cats.
If your new dog has lived with
cats before or has been "cat tested," you will still want to
keep him on a leash while allowing him to greet your cat for the first
time. This will give your cat a sense of security, and will also
allow him to exit the room if necessary without being chased. Keep
in mind that certain dogs, especially large breeds, have a very high prey
drive. While they may not intend harm to your cat, they will often
be intrigued and will attempt a game of chase. Do your best to
prevent this from occurring, as this behavior is reinforced each time your
cat flees and your dog sees. If your new dog is overly interested in
your cat, keep the dog leashed when your cat is around. Praise him
lavishly and provide treats for ignoring the cat. Likewise, when he
engages in chase or barks at the cat, make your displeasure known with a
loud "NO KITTY!" It make take a few days or a few weeks
before your dog realizes that the cat is not a walking woobie. Be
consistent and you'll eventually see results.
One simple and economical tool
to assist in promoting a positive relationship between your cat and your
new dog is the use of a baby gate. Use the gate to separate rooms of
the house, allowing the dog to visualize the cat but not giving him access
to the kitty. This will also allow your cat to join you in the
remainder of the house, but if the dog begins to chase, your cat will have
a means of escape into a dog-free room. Of course, if your dog is
aggressive towards your cat (as opposed to simply interested in play),
seek the advise of a local trainer or behaviorist and DO NOT allow your
cat and dog to remain together unsupervised.
One of the advantages of
adopting a dog vs. a puppy is that the adult dog is already housetrained.
However, many dogs that enter rescues or shelters have never been allowed
indoors, and will need to learn basic house manners and housetraining.
While the principles are the same for an adult dog as they are for a
puppy, it is often much easier to train a dog or an older puppy who is old
enough to have developed bladder control. In addition, the adult dog
and older puppy have longer attention spans and are more readily able to
learn the principles you are teaching them.
Housebreaking is often the
first attempt at training you and your dog will make. It is very
important to use careful thought and obtain accurate information prior to
working with your dog. Incorrect technique, excessive, harsh and
ineffective punishment may lead to behavioral problems later. It is
crucial that you work to control your own emotions and remain calm while
training. Set realistic goals, and give it time.
Select an area
Front or back yard? Not
only is it easier to clean up one area, but your dog will learn which door
to use to go outside to do his "business".
Set a schedule
Do not free feed your new dog.
Not only does this promote unhealthy weight gain, but it also makes
housetraining more difficult as you cannot expect when your dog may need
to eliminate. Most dogs will need to defecate following a meal, and
by designating feeding times you can anticipate when he will need to go
So, when should you feed your
dog? Most veterinarians recommend feeding large dogs twice a day.
This helps to prevent over-filling of the stomach, which is thought to
predispose dogs to "bloat," a painful and often fatal gastric
torsion. Feeding twice a day also gives your dog something to look
forward to. If you work or leave the house in the morning, set the
A.M. feeding early enough to allow you time to walk your dog or make sure
he/she has eliminated. The evening meal generally should be fed no
later than 6pm, with 4pm preferred. This allows ample time for
digestion to occur and helps your dog to be able to do a last
"doodle" before going to bed. If you find your dog leaves
you a pile during the night, chances are you are feeding too late in the
Watch that water!
If you are training a puppy,
it is often helpful monitor fluid and water intake. Don't leave the
bowl down, but instead, offer water at regularly scheduled intervals -
usually every 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Take your dog outside after each
meal and after each time water is consumed. Ever hear someone
talk about potty training a young toddler? People will often say
that Mom is actually the one trained, and to a certain extent, that is
true. Mom knows if she takes Johnny to the potty on a regular
schedule, she will build his confidence and prevent accidents from
happening. The same principles apply to housetraining a dog or a
Praise, praise, praise - and reward!
One of the best ways of
helping your dog understand that he is successful in accomplishing what
you've asked is by rewarding him or her with a treat. When Rover
toilets outside, take a handful of treats with you and reward him with a
little snack and lots of verbal praise for each success. Play with
him for five or ten minutes afterwards, which is an extra reward in and of
itself for your dog. Additional training can also be incorporated
into these sessions. Your dog will soon look forward to going
outside to potty if you apply these principles.
Watch out for the excited pooch!
Over excitement (such as new
visitors, a new, fun toy or other distractions) can cause your dog to
forget his new training. Help him or her by scheduling potty times
after these events to prevent accidents in the house.
In the beginning, do not allow
your dog free access to the house unsupervised. Consider using an
X-pen or crate, or better yet, use baby gates to section off rooms of the
If Rover voids and you do not
catch him in the act, scolding later will be futile. He will not
associate your displeasure with his action. The best way to keep
this from happening is to supervise him when indoors, and keep him in
sight at all times. If he begins to have an accident IN YOUR
PRESENCE, yell "NO!!!!" Then immediately and in a
cheerful voice say "Rover, OUTSIDE!!" When he finishes
outdoors, then reward and praise. Even though he began to go in the
house, if he completes the act outside he has done what you've asked and
should be rewarded with lavish praise. Never, ever hit your dog for
voiding in the house or rub his nose in his puddle. A simple but
loud verbal correction is sufficient, and your dog will respond much more
rapidly to praise and motivation than he will to harsh scolding which he
will not understand.
Those long nights!
Is a crate the right tool for
you? Different people have varying opinions on the use of crates.
However, used correctly, crates are wonderful training tools, especially
at night when you cannot observe your dog. In addition, many dogs
feel secure in crates, just as their wolf ancestors used dens for comfort
and security. Ever see a dog sleep under the bed, a table or other
piece of furniture? They like the privacy and security of an
enclosed space. Besides offering your dog security, the crate
has an added benefit - dogs do not like to soil in their sleeping area.
This will greatly assist you in housetraining your dog. Most dogs
will not mind the crate at all if kept near you, by your bed - this allows
them quiet companionship with you, his owner, and helps the bonding
If you do not want to crate
train Rover, you may opt to use a leash instead. You can attach it
to your bed, keeping your dog near you at night and limiting his space.
An X-Pen also accomplishes the same goal. Whatever you decide, it's
important that in the early stages of housetraining that your dog's space
be limited when not observed, and especially at night.
Clean, clean, clean
There are many products sold
in pet stores that were designed specifically for cleaning up urine and
feces. These products have enzymes which neutralize the odor and
prevent resoiling of the area. Do not products containing ammonia,
which will only accentuate the odor and may cause your dog to continue to
void or defecate in the same areas.