Pet Care – Dogs

Getting off to a good start with your new dog

Adopting a new dog is exciting, but it means you’ll have to make some changes in your household, at least for a while.

Our Adoption Counsellor will give you advice before your take your new dog or puppy home but you can make the adjustment process easier for both you and your new family member by following a few simple guidelines:

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Remember that dogs try very hard to please people

If a dog is doing something you don’t like, it is probably because they don’t understand what you actually want. Don’t punish your dog for unwanted behaviour. Reward him with attention or treats for the behaviour you do like, and use distraction to keep him out of trouble.  Punishment is not a good idea. It tends to make dogs more excitable and less likely to trust people. Be patient with your dog. If you behave in a calm, kind, and predictable way, they will settle down more quickly and learn your household routines.  For most dogs, you should expect the adjustment to living in your home to take at least a few months.

Housetraining is a natural behaviour for dogs

Dogs usually learn to be housetrained quite quickly – with a bit of planning on your part.  You should not punish a dog for eliminating in the house as this will often teach them to be afraid to relieve themselves in front of you, even when they are outdoors!  Keep your dog confined to an area that is easy to clean, and where he is properly supervised, until you are sure he has the idea that is best to relieve himself outdoors. Take your dog outside very frequently and reward him with praise or treats for eliminating outside. Clicker training is great for this. Our AVC trainers can help you with clicker training if you like.  The goal is to help your dog learn that the most rewarding place to eliminate is outdoors.

Crate training can be very helpful in keeping to a good routine for housetraining

Because dogs don’t like to relieve themselves where they sleep, most will try to keep their crate clean until you take them outdoors. It will also help to keep your dog and your possessions safe while everyone gets used to each other. If you need help deciding on the size of crate you should use, just ask the shelter staff or the AVC trainers. A crate should never be used as punishment, but just as part of the daily routine.  Most dogs benefit from having a quiet and safe place to rest, especially if you have a busy household. Almost every dog will need to be “crated” at some point in their life, whether it is because they are in the hospital or travelling. Teaching them to be comfortable in a crate is a great life skill for all dogs.

Start out the way you mean to go on!

Decide how you will manage your dog before you bring him home.  Where will he sleep?  Do I care if he sleeps on the sofa, or on my bed? Are any rooms off limits?  Who is going to take primary responsibility for the dog? Remember to be consistent.  For example, if the dog is not allowed on the couch then everyone in the household should not allow the dog on the couch.

Separation anxiety

Even though it is wonderful to spend lots of time with a newly adopted dog (and the dogs certainly enjoy the attention!), at some point your dog will have to be left alone. Dogs are naturally very social. That means that they have to actually learn how to be all by themselves. It is not fair to your dog to let him be with you all the time, only to be suddenly abandoned when you go to work or school.  Even though you should spend lots of quality time with your dog, which includes plenty of exercise, he should gradually learn that he can’t always be right beside you. There are a couple of tricks you can use to help your dog feel fine about being left alone:

Be very calm when you have to leave him behind to go out, and when you first come back home. Don’t spend a lot of time fussing over him in these situations as it just teaches him to really notice that you are coming and going.  When you come home, you should be BORING until he calms down. This simple technique has been proven to reduce anxiety about being left alone.

Leave him with something interesting to chew that he can work on as you leave.  There is no need to spend a lot of money on expensive toys. Try filling a hollow rubber Kong toy with something like ripe banana or canned dog food and freezing it. You can also take a whole carrot and push it into the center of a hollow bone.

Try to spend some time separated from your dog, even while you are home. This is particularly easy to do with a young puppy.  If the puppy is gated into a secure area or in a crate, you can give him something interesting to play with or chew while you leave the room. Your dog will very quickly learn to be quite happy all on his own.