Home Sweet Home:
Well, ask many new pet owners and these three words will not be used in sequence to describe their first week with a newly adopted rehomed pet. The reason for rehoming bears little significance on the behaviors which you will observe in the first thirty days after opening your home and your heart to a homeless animal.
Following are some tips to ease the transition and assist the animal in becoming a member of your pack:
1. Introduce him to your home slowly. Give him a section of the house the first day, then a bit more to explore the second day and so on until he has been introduced to the entire home. Do not rush this as you don’t want to overwhelm him with all of this new territory.
2. When you leave the home, give him a very small space in which to stay. Provide him with an old blanket, towel, pillow or sweatshirt which smells like you. While buying a new bed for your new addition is a nice gesture, it may end up shredded due to displays of anxiety in the new space and in your absence. Wait a month or two and then purchase the bed as a reward.
3. Give them some reward or very positive treat or toy when you leave the home. Remember, this pet has already been abandoned at least one time. They don’t know that you will be returning. Make your departure exceptionally pleasant. Turkey nibbles or cheese nibbles are best in the very beginning.
4. Take five minutes to visit the Kong website at www.kongcompany.comIt offers some excellent fillers for use in your kong. These are essentially indestructible rubber hollow enrichment toys which range in price from $5.99-15.99 depending on your dog’s size. We stuff with peanut butter or cottage cheese, then place overnight in the freezer. It feels good ice cold on their gums, and it takes longer to lick out the stuffing if they are frozen.
5. Crate training is one of my favorite means to adjust a rehomed dog. It is like giving them their own room. It will smell like them, they always get rewarded when they go in their “house” and when you have that emergency visit to the vet which forces them to spend the night, they will be less anxious if they are already comfortable staying in a crate/kennel. Crates are safe for you and safe for your dog. Six hours is the absolute maximum for crating. If you work longer than that, you might consider placing a kennel flush against a doggy door. Make sure that it’s secure so that they cannot move the crate and cruise around the house. The other viable option is to hire a dogwalker to come in daily or alternating days (prices usually range from $10-15.) for the first few weeks to make the adjustment easier.
6. Assume that your new pet will have an accident or two in your home, and be prepared for that Treat them as if they are not housebroken to avoid preventable accidents. Take them out frequently to a potty place, tell them to “Hurry Up” or “Go Potty”. If they do, praise and reward like they just discovered dried liver! The reinforcement must be given during or immediately following the desired action, thus increasing the chances that your dog will offer the behavior again.
7. The average time that it takes before a rehomed dog eating a full meal is about 3 days. Do not be concerned unless your pet is not drinking water, or shows other signs of illness like lethargy, vomiting, etc. Please note that if you change the diet suddenly, you may see diarrhea about 2-7 days following the change. You can add a ½ cup of white rice or ½ of a baked potato and half of the prescribed amount of food to get their digestive systems regulated.
8. Protect your dog. By this I mean ask strangers to approach slowly, avert the eyes and squat down sideways to pet the new pup. In addition to this, scratching under the chin is much less intimidating from a stranger than pats on the head (which most well adjusted dogs will resent!). Try having a stranger place their flat palm above your head. I bet you will move to see what they are doing. Keep this in mind when introducing the dog to new people. You can even use the “Oh please stay back, we are in training” reasoning if you prefer not to have them approach your dog.
9. Learn your dog’s body language. Just sit still and watch. Look at the facial expressions, the eyes, the whites of the eyes, the lips and expressions, the ears, the forehead, the piloerection (hackles raised on the back of the neck and base of the tail), the tail status, the tail wag (tight vs. loose wag), body posture forward or submissive body posture. Take notes if you need to, or use a digital camera to capture images.
10. Allow your pet a few days to just settle in and relax before really beginning an obedience schedule. While this will definitely help you bond with your new addition, it will be frustrating for you and confusing for them if they are too overstimulated.
11. Become a benevolent leader to your new pet.
To quote Patricia McConnell, PhD, from “The Other End of the Leash:
“Keep in mind that there are basically three homes in which your dog can live:
- A home in which the humans use force and intimidation to get the dog to be obedient;
- A home in which your dog has all the social control and gets what he wants whenever he wants it;
- Or a peaceful, harmonius household in which you are a wise, benevolent leader.
You get to choose. Just remember, your dog can’t.”
12. Contact your rescue group for referrals to a great positive reinforcement trainer/behaviorist in your area. When the dog is settled, group classes are an excellent way to socialize with other dogs and people, as well as to train or polish your dog’s commands.
13. Visit the website www.clickersolutions.comfor information on clicker training. Clicker training is an excellent, simple way to train your dog. Tricks come quickly using a clicker. Rent a video called “Take A Bow Wow” to learn more advanced tricks.
14. Get involved with your dog. Activities like Rally O!, flyball, agility and obedience trials are all great ways to interact with your pet. Delta Society’s Pet Partner Program certifies pets to visit hospitals, nursing homes, children’s facilities, etc. for monthly pet therapy visits. Additional information can be obtained locally through www.AnimalsBenefitClub.comor through www.deltasociety.org
15. Have fun with your new pet! You wanted a great, polite, affectionate companion. If you are calm, loving and patient you will be rewarded beyond measure. And then you will have your Home Sweet Home!
Article submitted by: © Christine Finch