7-tips-for-brining-home-a-shelter-dogA while back we featured Abbie’s 10 Tips For Welcoming Home Your Newly-Adopted Dog in this blog, and it was so popular, we’re revisiting the topic with this article written by Diane Anderson, an expert animal behaviorist with the Central Florida SPCA. “When you make the life saving decision to adopt a new furry friend, you have great expectations… unfortunately, sometimes things don’t go quite as planned… now what? Remember, when you adopt a pet you are making a promise to them to provide them with food, water, shelter, training and companionship. Your new pet is more than willing to hold up their side of the bargain by providing you with unconditional love!

Strain is sometimes put on the relationship when human expectations differ from reality. One must remember that any dog has the potential to become an ideal companion under the right circumstances. You must ask yourself what those circumstances might be, and then begin to implement them.

It is important to remember to build your bond with your new dog and always love the dog you HAVE, not the one you wish you did! Once your pet enters your home it becomes your responsibility to deal with their behavior, whatever it may be. If the dog is yours, so then is the responsibility.

Dogs, like us, are a combination of nature and nurture. Every dog has a behavior potential that can be shaped by consistent and positive training. Dogs are incredibly resilient; they can begin to adjust to a new life today, no matter what their past might have held. Adjustment periods can be tough, but the end result is always worth the effort! If your dog just isn’t meeting your expectations… adjust them! Make it a point to seriously tackle each problem.

7 Tips For Getting Started With a New Shelter Dog

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  1. Introductions: If you are bringing your new friend into a household with a resident dog, make sure to introduce the two on neutral ground. Go for a walk! Do NOT walk he dogs right up to one another nose to nose, a side by side walk will encourage companionship and tire them out!
  2. Behavior & Getting Comfortable: Begin obedience classes and have the whole family participate. Learn to shape what is desired rather than punish what is not. Obedience training has a settling effect on a dog and gives you an opportunity to bond and re-direct focus. Take time to touch your new dog all over. (Feet, ears, teeth, tail, paws…) This will make trips to the groomer and veterinarian easier for everyone!
  3. Around the Home: Remember to dog-proof your home. (Especially important with puppies!) Walk around your house and yard and move anything you do not want the dog to get a hold of. If you do not want your new dog in certain rooms of the house, purchase baby gates to block their way. Remember it is YOUR responsibility to keep your dog away from things you do not want destroyed or that might be harmful to them.
  4. Buying A Crate: If you will be crate training your dog, make sure to purchase a crate that is just large enough for the dog to stand up and turn around in; no more, no less. If you are buying a crate for your puppy to grow into, you can block off part of it with cement blocks. Stainless steel water and food bowls are recommended as they can not be torn up and ingested. Also, be sure to look for durable bedding; hard to chew up and easy to clean will make your life much easier!
  5. What To Buy: You will want to purchase a simple 4-6 foot nylon leash with collar. No flexi-leads, harnesses or pinch collars will be necessary with proper training. You’ll want some toys as well. Get a nice variety and then rotate them every month so your dog doesn’t get bored. Hard Rubber toys are wonderful for dogs who chew, especially those that can be stuffed with anything from peanut butter and cream cheese to wet food and bananas! (You can freeze them to keep your pooch busy for a longer period of time!)
  6. When Feeding: Feed them their food at set times. As long as they are healthy, when they are hungry, they’ll eat. (If will not eat anything for a day, check with your vet.) Do not leave food down for longer that 20 minutes; after that pick it up. Also, refrain from ‘free feeding’ your dog. It can lead to obesity and makes it difficult for you to monitor their eating habits.
  7. Vet Visits: Even if your pet is healthy, make an appointment for your new dog at your veterinarian about two weeks after they’ve joined your household.
  8. House Rules: Make sure the entire family understands the ‘doggy’ rules and that there is a clear consensus of what behaviors are to be reinforced and which ones will not.

If all of this sounds like a lot of work, it’s because it is! But life with out dogs is not much of a life at all… in my opinion anyway!”

This post was written by Diane Anderson, she is an expert animal behaviorist with the Central Florida SPCA: www.orlandopets.org
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