Although these Hints were prepared for new owners of Rescue Dogs they could be very useful for any dog owner.
1. Your dog may have been badly treated at its last home and so may be insecure and frightened. Any ordinary actions may be misinterpreted as threatening or harmful. Try not to make any sudden movements or raise your voice until your dog is more settled.
2. Almost certainly your dog will not have had as much love and training as it needs, a lot of patience will be required.
3. Regular grooming will ensure a healthy coat and skin. Checks should be made every few weeks for fleas and use a flea treatment on a regular basis as recommended by the manufacturer. It is also a good idea to regularly check your dog’s eyes and ears, these areas can indicate the beginning of many doggy problems. If you see anything unusual, see your Vet. Teeth and gums can be kept healthy by providing your dog with suitable chews and bones. Ensure that you walk your dog on a hard surface on a regular basis as this will keep the nails at a correct length.
4. A bored dog is an unhappy dog. Treat your dog to plenty of exercise and games.
5. Always supervise your dog when playing with children, other animals or strangers.
Lead training and free runs – When your dog first comes home it is unlikely that you will know how he will behave on a lead, and more importantly how well he will return when he is off the lead. The following hints may be of use to you.
Once the five days have elapsed after the second vaccination you can take your dog out on a lead. However it would not be advisable to let him off the lead yet. If the dog seems to want to be further from you for a bit of privacy when he is relieving himself, you can tie a long piece of washing line to his lead. This will enable him to exercise better and to have a little privacy if he feels the need.
Using this very long lead (away from the roads of course) you can test his willingness to come back to you. When he is at the furthest extent of the lead call him back in a friendly tone using his name and a simple one word command, e.g. “Sandy come”. Every time he correctly completes the exercise give him a small treat. If he does not oblige at first do not scold him just try again. With patience and understanding you will very soon be able to let him off the lead with complete confidence and be the envy of the other dog owners who are frantically yelling at their dog to no avail! Incidentally it is a good idea to practice recall during the middle of your walk so that he does not associate returning to you with the end of his play time, otherwise he could get the idea that he is being punished for coming back to you.
Remember he must associate returning to you with a pleasurable experience not under any circumstances with a blow. If you have difficulty getting him back on the lead, by far the best method of disciplining him is to totally ignore him once he is back on the lead, take him home and do not speak to him or stroke him. After fifteen to twenty minutes you will have to pretend that it never happened. The reasoning behind this method is that the one thing your dog most wants from you, even more than food, is your love and attention. Therefore just by temporarily withdrawing your attention you can control your dog without causing him any trauma. The reverse of this is also true, the best way of rewarding your dog is to award him with your attention rather than a treat.
This is the area where new dog owners, especially owners of rescue dogs, have the most problems. These problems can all be overcome by the application of a little discipline. This discipline is more needed with yourself than with the dog. Your dog needs to be able to rely on you just as much as you need to rely on him. He needs to know when he will be taken out and therefore how long he will have to wait to relieve himself The best way to make his life easy is to have a fixed routine that he can rely on. For example, a very good system would be to walk him three times a day, always at the same time.
morning – after his breakfast if he is still having morning feeds
teatime – once again after his meal
evening – last thing before you go to bed
With this routine to rely on he will soon get to understand how long he will have to wait before he will be able to relieve himself and will be able to establish a pattern. Just imagine the situation, if he knows that he will be going out in half an hour he will probably be able to cross his legs and wait, but if he has no idea when he will be going out he will get stressed and probably have an accident. If this happens remember it is your fault NOT HIS.
Chewing and doggy vandalism
Some dogs will resort to chewing and doggy type vandalism if they are bored or stressed. Obviously the way to prevent these things is to ensure that he does not get bored or stressed.
There is no fixed rule that you can apply because every dog is different and the triggers that will cause this kind of behaviour will vary accordingly.
One of the most common causes of chewing etc is when the dog is left on his own in the house.
As we have already said the thing that the dog most wants from you is your attention and presence, these are not available if you are out of the house. When you also consider that what is only a day to you seems like a week to a young dog because they have a totally different appreciation of time than us, it is understandable that a newly adopted rescue dog can get very stressed when it is left on its own. Especially as most rescue dogs come from homes that were less than ideal, which probably included being left on their own a lot.
The most likely objects for it to chew are those which smell strongly of you, shoes and slippers come high on this list as do gear knobs and hand brake handles in the car.
If your dog does start this kind of behaviour you must cure the cause of the problem and not concentrate on the symptoms. The symptom is the chewing, but the cause is the stress of your absence.
You cannot be expected to never leave your dog on its own, but you can eventually reassure your dog that you will always come back and therefore cure his stress.
This can be achieved by leaving your home for short periods of time only at first, starting with no more than two to three minutes and slowly working up to a full absence. If when you return the dog has not done any damage, make a big fuss of him, give him a treat and reassure him that you love him. If however he has done damage then you must totally ignore him, clear up the mess and get on with what you were doing. On the next occasion leave him for even less time until he eventually trusts you. Once you have his trust you can lengthen your absences slowly.
An additional tip is to not make a fuss of your dog for at least ten to fifteen minutes before you leave the house. Remember he wants your attention more than anything, so if you give it to him and then cut if off abruptly he will think he is being punished and may react badly especially as he has done no wrong and knows it.
If your dog does enjoy chewing, especially a young dog that might be teething, you would be well advised to buy him a “kong”. This is a hard rubber toy which, if you buy the correct size, your dog will not be able to destroy. If you give him this only when you are out of the house it will be his special reward that he gets only in your absence, you must however pick it up on your return. It will give him some exercise, in fact most dogs will chew a kong until they get “jaw-ache” and fall asleep. A kong has another important benefit, it is hollow.
This allows you to put some meat or biscuits inside in such a way that it will take him a very long time to get it out, especially if the meat is sticky. This will divert his attention during those vital minutes immediately after your departure.
Remember more important than any advice we have given above is to love your dog and treat him with respect, he will reply in kind.
If you have any problems with your new dog do not hesitate to contact us, we will do our best to help.