Welcoming A New Dog Into Your Home

Many of you have adopted or are fostering a dog from a shelter or rescue. The experience can be overwhelming for you and the dog.  Where do you start?

There is a saying about welcoming a new dog into the house, “The rule of 3’s.” In the first three days, your new dog may be overwhelmed with his new surroundings. After three weeks, he’s starting to settle in, feeling more comfortable, and he’s letting his guard down and may start showing his real personality for good or not so good. After three months your dog has become comfortable in his home. These are guidelines; it can take longer!

I treat any new dog who is coming into my home as if they were a puppy. For older dogs, I use a short period of house training protocol. For a few days I escort them out to the potty area after: they wake, eat or play. There will be lots of space management, limiting where they are allowed to roam in the house and yard. After all, they don’t know my house rules, and their past is a blank slate to me.  This is their “Do Over” time.

For training, I test them to see what they know. I ask for sit, down, shake, hand target, recall, spin, anything that comes to my mind. I only give a verbal cue once and usually will use a hand signal. If they do it, I give a heavy reward, anything I think they might like, usually human type food such as pieces of hot dog. I heavily reward any good behavior they offer. I also like to take the new dog on lots of leashed walks.

I was curious what my friends, both pet owners and professional trainers, thought were the most important training exercises to start with a new dog.

So I asked the question: What training exercises do you find most useful in building a connection with your new dog?

Celeb Andrews first thing to work on is house training.

Nina Peter Feltmann A new dog coming to your home may also have a new name! Or they may need to have their name re-taught if they ignore it. Teach the name by having treats in your pocket. When the dog is near, say the name, and feed a yummy treat. When the dog is responding well to the name and not showing any concern or fear being near you, add in a collar touch. It would look like: name, dog looks, bring out treat, as you feed, move your empty hand toward dog’s neck but not necessarily touching yet, and feed. Build this up slowly so the dog is comfortable having you reach for and hold their collar.

Barbara Holler Name recognition! With a head snap back to you for a treat. Builds to reward for checking in with you.

Jill Breitner Nothing for the first 3 days. Just observe. Who is this dog and how does she navigate her world? They need time to learn the lay of the land, people in the home, other dogs, routine, environment etc. then If all goes well I like teaching touch, sit for the rest of the week building on these so I can see what kind of learners they are.

Lisa Barrett IMO, each new dog teaches you what to do. My new dog loves physical connection with me, especially my hand under his chin (go figure!) more than even food.

Kiddy Christie Whatever training style or tips you choose to use, be consistent and positive every day. Work one lesson per day. No overload for the dog. Be happy! Repeat..repeat..repeat..end!

Liz Carter Initially I let them explore, make little direct eye contact until/unless they initiate it, and give them some space to settle for maybe a week. Establish a routine with them regarding walks, work time, rest time (establishing expectations). Also I talk to them a lot, and like I would a person (not always using the higher-pitched “dog voice”). Let them know what we’re doing, where we’re going, ask their opinion, etc.

Catherine Comden . . . feed the dog by hand for good choices they can build a great relationship  . . .

Ann W. Firestone Everything your dog does that you like, mark it and reward!

Lisa G White The way to a dog’s heart is through their stomach. LOL

Janis Piper keeping the dog with me 24/7 for at least 2 weeks, having them sleeping by my bed, or me by the crate…imprinting myself on them, and using their name constantly. When in the house I tie a lead line to me and dog when they are not resting,

Jamie Przybysz Eye contact (focus for direction and interaction/relationship)) “Up Up” -into the car, onto the veterinary scale, etc.”

Nancy Anderson Come when called fun treat fun

Danielle Beck It’s important they understand how to self-settle and learn to switch off to relax both with & without you. There’s a huge list but self-management is high on my list 🙂

Karen Rinald Mast  I especially like the advice for teaching off-switch whether in your company, or when separated from you (includes crate confinement or behind a gate) which I find teaching go to mat / place and lay down a very useful behavior to shape. . . .in a multi-dog home, I only allow my new adoptee (or foster pup) exposure to the existing resident dogs with my direct supervision for quite some time. The length of time depends upon the temperaments of the residents in my home (ie. if I have a dog that is not appropriate with other dogs, the period and procedure to introduce may be prolonged), if I have a dog who is good and appropriate with other dogs, then that length of time may be shorter.

Laurel Martin Horton I like the hand target. I think it makes physically interacting with the human more rewarding, is so easy to teach, and so useful.

Joanne O’Brien  I thought “sit” had to come with “stay”. On walks, I started practicing “stay” at street corners (without sit), and it a worked very well! My main concern isn’t whether or not they sit. The concern is that they don’t run out into the street or out the door, for example.

Marilyn Marks Honeymoon period isn’t an activity but it’s important for them to know . . .

Randi Barrett The dogs needs come first, trust building exercises, good nutrition, exercise, mental stimulation, healthy environment. Learn to read your dogs emotional needs. Read lots of great books about how to teach your dog to live in your life… cooperation, lots of love and don’t skimp on reinforcements.

Cathy Hughes First few days I am capturing behaviors…puppies come with good baggage too…, acclimating him to his diet and house training regime, doing walk abouts and other enrichment activities, and getting to know other family members. On about the third or fourth day I initiate targeting as my foundation and build from there with games that include the basics. Socialization is started with the pup’s personality in mind. A combo of impulse control and confidence and fun are what I am working toward

Laurey Weiner If it is a new dog to a home with another dog especially a puppy, I take a really long time allowing them to make friends either through a puppy pen or gate. I never just throw a puppy into a new situation, for the sake of either dog. To many times people assume a new puppy will be happily accepted by an older dog because the older dog is dog friendly..but bringing a new pup into the home can be a big stressor for the older dog.

Lenore Paquette Smith Normally I would say to limit visitors for the first week or two to let them get settled in, but that’s really not a problem right now, is it? 

Sherry Al-Mufti When the dog is an adolescent or adult I have found that it is really helpful to go on a long walk with the dog within the first week.

Mike and Joann McCabe Our dog was two or so, when she came from a shelter to live with us. What we quickly learned is that she loves to run.  Not away.  But once loose, she will run until she decides to come home.  So we keep her on a leash whenever we’re out with her; and we frequently call her name and give her a treat when she responds.  When we let her swim, we ply her with treats every time she comes back to shore; that way we can grasp her leash when she comes for the final treat of the swim day.

Rock Nest Training & Pet Care, LCC  541-895-3162 or www.rocknestpetcare.com