A Step-by-Step Training Guide for New Dog Owners
By Chris O’Sullivan, Trainer/Rehabilitator
A step-by-step guide for introducing a new dog to his new home environment.
The best recommendation I can give any client who is planning on bringing home a new pet is: SELF-RESTRAINT
Most of us are so excited to bring home our new pet that we often get caught up in the moment and get ourselves and our new dog over-excited and over-stimulated. Imagine how confusing this can be when you want the dog to calm down and respect your home and possessions.
The better approach for the long term is to spend some time taking the dog on a nice slow walk around your neighborhood before taking the dog home. Give them a chance to explore their new surroundings. Let them get engaged in experiencing all of the new smells, seeing the sights and taking in the sounds of the neighborhood. The idea is to engage the curious part of the brain while keeping the excitement level to a minimum. This nice slow walk will also give the new owner time to get the measure of their new pet and practice their leadership skills before heading home.
When it's time to introduce the dog to its new home I recommend not removing the leash, instead continuing the walk by leading the dog on a slow deliberate tour of the home, walking around the perimeter of every room and piece of furniture. Control the pace and give the dog time to engage its nose, which stimulates the curious part of the brain. By using this approach the dog is learning how to behave in the new environment as well as respect the furnishings and content of their new space. Introduce the dog to its new environment as if you were giving it a tour of a sacred ground, which includes monitoring your own voice and movements. Once the tour is over the leash can be removed with no fanfare.
In my years working with rescue groups, I have seen perfectly good dogs returned to the shelter simply because they were introduced to their new homes and families with excitement, over-stimulation, and lack of boundaries. Think of it this way, if you introduce a dog to its new home as if it's their new personal dog run and you're their new pack mate, who's fault is it a week later when they're still acting under that impression?
My advice is simply this, think about the dog you want to have in a weeks time and give it the proper impression and provide them the right tools, from the start.
Less is more: In general it is best to not have lots of toys laying around your home - this is especially important when you have a new dog. Introduce toys over a period of a few days or a week and include light gentle playtime over the same time frame. Practice self-restraint, take control and guide your new dog… You can have fun with your dog and play and let them on the furniture as much as you want but let them earn these perks. Don’t set them up for failure by giving them a wrong first impression.
One final important matter for you and your new dog is to use the correct collar for proper control and safety. I always insist that my clients use a Martingale collar for both safety and training. A snug fitting Martingale is the best way to insure your new dog won’t slip out of its collar. For about ten dollars it’s about the best investment you can make in protecting your new dog.