Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

Establishing Leadership

Although we may not like rules and regulations, we often find it easier to get things done when there are guidelines to follow. The same goes for our dogs. They appreciate knowing where the boundaries are, and in fact are less stressed when they have a leader to follow.

Dogs are pack animals. Your dog’s pack consists of you and your family. Each member of the pack has their own place in the hierarchy, with the alpha at the head. It’s important that you establish yourself as the alpha member in your pack.

Dogs are happier and less stressed when they have a leader to follow. Many behavioral problems that occur in dogs are due to the lack of a strong leader. Problems also occur when a dog is taken from his litter to early and then not properly socialized during puppyhood. These dogs often don’t understand doggie communication, and have issues with leadership as adults.

Many people are hesitant to be assertive with their rescue dog because they feel that he has had a rough life, and they should be gentle with him. They are reluctant to be firm, because they don’t want to stress him. The truth is, your dog wants guidance. He wants to know that you’re his leader, it helps him feel secure.

Establishing Yourself as Pack Leader

If you don’t adopt the role of your dog’s pack leader, you’ll find that he will take over that position for himself. This can lead to behavioral problems such as aggression, and also higher levels of anxiety.

Being pack leader doesn’t mean you have to be loud and harsh to your dog. It means being fair, even tempered and consistent. It is a leader’s job to set your dog’s boundaries, protect your pack and control resources like food and toys.

When you bring home a rescue dog, you must start as you mean to go on. Although you can expect a few teething problems, don’t make allowances for the fact he’s new to your family. Start teaching him straight away what the rules are. Use positive training methods, and repeat your training sessions regularly, and he’ll quickly learn what he can and can’t do.

You can set physical boundaries, such as having certain rooms that your dog isn’t allowed in, or not permitting him into your kitchen. You can also set mental rules, such as teaching that he’s not allowed to bark for attention. Both are an important part of teaching your dog where he fits into your pack.

Alpha Exercises

There is a school of thought that suggests that bad behavior in our dogs is due to them trying to dominate us. Some dog owners believe that to be an effective leader, you have to show dominance over your dog with techniques such as the “alpha roll”. To do an alpha roll, you physically force your dog onto his back and hold there until he relaxes.

Other alpha exercises include scruffing and shaking your dog, growling at your dog, or forcing him onto his side and letting get up.

Many people believe that when your dog relaxes in an alpha roll, it indicates that he has submitted to you, and recognizes you as leader. This dominance theory is no longer accepted by many professionals. In fact, techniques such as the alpha roll may actually lead to your dog being aggressive towards you because he is frightened.

The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior suggests that dogs don’t behave badly because they are trying to dominate their owners. Instead they feel that dogs are naughty for two reasons. Firstly, they haven’t been consistently taught right from wrong, and secondly, they are afraid or anxious and that leads to bad behavior such as aggression. Research has shown that if you aggressive to your dog, he is more likely to be aggressive.

There’s no need to perform the alpha exercises on your dog. They are scary, they don’t teach your dog anything and they may result in you getting bitten.

Teaching Your Dog Who Is In Charge

There are many ways that you can show your dog that you are in charge, and they don’t involve getting physical with him, or causing him any fear at all. You’ll end up a better mannered dog, and a much more enjoyable relationship with him. After all, who wants to have their dog afraid of them?

– You must eat your food before your dog has his meal. Pack leaders eat first.

– You must go through a doorway before your dog does. Teach him to sit and wait, and not to follow you until he’s told to.

– If your dog is lying in the way, don’t step over him, ask him to move. After all, you are the leader.

– Teach your dog to sit and wait for his meal, and not to eat until you give him the command. Pack leaders control access to resources such as food.

– Until your dog recognizes you as leader, don’t invite him to sit on the couch with you, or to sleep on your bed. When he fully understands that you are in charge, you can then invite him to join you if you wish.

– Don’t reward your dog for jumping up, or other attention seeking behavior. Ask him to sit politely, and only then does he get a pat.

– Train your dog in basic obedience, and expect him to do as you ask him, when you ask him. Regular training will reinforce your position in the pack.

As you can imagine, these methods take more time and effort than physically scruffing your dog and rolling him on his back. However, they are more effective in showing you dog that you’re in charge, and will result in your dog respecting you instead of fearing you.

There is a training method called “Nothing in life is free”. Basically, this means that anything your dog wants, he has to earn. He wants to play? That’s fine, but he has to sit before you throw the ball. He wants to eat? No worries, but don’t give one piece of food until he’s performed a sit-stay exercise.

It’s not hard to show your dog that you’re his pack leader, and you can do it without causing him any anxiety or fear. He will feel happier and more secure, knowing he has a leader that he can respect.

Adopting a Rescue Dog – The First Seven Days
By: Dr. Susan Wright & Misty Weaver

Training Your Rescue Dog

When you adopt a new dog, you must start training him immediately so he begins to learn what is and isn’t acceptable in your home. There are several training methods you can use, but one of the most powerful methods is positive reinforcement.

Most dogs love food. Grab a particularly delicious treat, and use this to reward your dog for doing the right thing. If you own a dog who is a fussy eater, he may prefer praise or a game of ball when he does what you ask of him. The theory behind positive reinforcement training is that any behavior that is rewarded is likely to be repeated. One common example is when your dog jumps up. If you give him a hug every time he jumps on you, he is being rewarded for doing it, so he’ll continue jumping on you.

Basic Guidelines for Dog Training

Timing. Whatever your dog is doing at the time you give him the reward is the behavior that he is going to repeat. So, if you ask your dog to sit, and he obeys, give him a treat. But, if he gets excited and jumps on you to get the treat, make sure he sits again before he is rewarded. Otherwise you’re training him to jump.

You can use a clicker to mark the exact behavior you want, and this is often easier than trying to get a treat into the right position at the right time. You dog can learn that the click means a treat is coming, and you can be much accurate with your timing.

Location. Start training a new behavior in a location that is not very exciting, such as your backyard. This reduces the opportunity for your dog to get distracted. As he becomes more reliable, gradually move to a more distractable areas, so he learns to obey you even if there’s something interesting happening nearby.

Short sessions. Several five minute sessions a day are much more beneficial than a single one hour session when it comes to training your dog, and it usually is easier to fit into your lifestyle.

Be careful with commands. Use a short, easy to remember command, rather than a multi-word phrase for each behavior you would like to teach him. For example, tell your dog to “sit”, rather than “sit down right now”. Also, to a dog, “sit” is a completely different command than “sit, sit, sit!”. Choose one word for each behavior, and stick with it.

Consistency. Be clear in your mind what you are trying to teach your dog each time you train him. That way you’ll get the most out of each session, and won’t become confused. Make sure all members of the family use the same command for the same behavior. You may want to create a list of commands that your dog is learning and pin it to the wall, so everyone can become familiar and re-read them as needed.

Use shaping. Sometimes you dog won’t learn the right behavior straight away. It’s fine to reward a behavior close to what you want him to do, so he gets the general idea. From there, you can then only reward behaviors that are closer to what you want him to do.

There are dog training clubs in most regions that would only be too happy to help you train your dog. If you’re having trouble with training, do contact them before things become too bad.


Leash Training

In many areas, the law requires you to walk your dog on a leash. Leash training should start straight away when you bring your dog home. Depending on their background, older dogs may take a longer time to become used to wearing a leash, but all dogs can learn to behave nicely while they are being walked.

Dogs are like people in that some learn faster than others. Don’t be frustrated if your dog takes a little while to learn to walk on a leash, just continue your training and he will get there. Never hit or yell at your dog while he is learning, and don’t jerk on the leash, it wont help him learn any quicker.

There are many different types of leash and collar combinations available. Most dog trainers recommend a flat fabric leash which is comfortable to hold, and one that is four to six feet in length. Use a flat collar on your dog when you are training him; choke chains or prong collars can be harmful in the hands of inexperienced trainers.

If you own a particularly boisterous dog, you may want to try a head halter. These have a combined loop around your dog’s muzzle and collar around his neck, and will gently control his heat as you train him. It’s similar to a halter that is used to walk a horse.

There are five main steps to getting your dog used to being on a leash.

1. Put the leash and collar on him, and give him his meal. The leash is unlikely to bother him as he eats, and he’ll also start to associate the leash with something enjoyable.

2. Let him walk around the house with the leash attached, so he gets used to feeling a little weight on him. Take him outside into your yard as the grass will offer more resistance as he pulls the leash around.

3. As your dog walks around dragging the leash, occasionally pick it up and walk beside him, so he gets used to you being near him. Keep it positive, with praise and treats as he walks.

4. When your dog is comfortable having the leash on, use a treat to encourage him to walk with you. Most trainers teach their dog to walk on their left side. This is just convention, and there’s no reason not to walk your dog on your side if it’s more comfortable for you.

5. As your dog becomes familiar with you walking with him on leash, he may try to surge ahead. If he does this, do a quick clockwise turn, encouraging him around with you and rewarding him when he is again beside you. Again, short but frequent sessions are most productive, and your dog will soon learn that he needs to walk next to you to earn a reward.

Training your rescue dog is an investment in your future together. It means that you’ll avoid the stress of a badly behaved dog, and he’ll have the security of knowing what’s expected of him. Training is also a good opportunity to give your dog the kind of mental exercise he needs to thrive. Best of all, training is a natural bonding opportunity, where you can demonstrate leadership and your dog can learn to become comfortable following your lead.

Adopting a Rescue Dog – The First Seven Days
By: Dr. Susan Wright & Misty Weaver

Exercising Your Rescue Dog

If you take home a rescue dog, you are committed to meeting all his needs. That includes his need for exercise.

Lack of exercise can lead to obesity, heart disease and poor muscle tone. It can also lead to behavioral problems because your dog hasn’t expended its excess of energy, and is bored. A dog who gets enough exercise is more likely to be calm while at home, and tends nor to be anxious when he’s left on his own.

If you spend time exercising your dog, you’ll have a lot of fun together and improve your relationship with him.

Before you start any exercise program with your dog, have him checked by your veterinarian to make sure there’s no reason you can’t increase his activity level. He may need to lose a little weight first, or he may be too young to do too much physical activity. Keep an eye on the weather – dogs don’t sweat like we do, and can suffer from heat stress in warm conditions.

How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Need?

Don’t think for a minute that owning a big backyard will mean you dog will get enough exercise. Dogs tend not to exercise themselves, and will lie around waiting for you to be active with him.

Different breeds, and in fact different individual dogs, have different exercise needs. Some dogs are happy with a walk every day. Others, especially the working breeds, need a lot more exercise to be satisfied. Aim to give your dog at least one exercise a day, and target the type and amount of exercise to his individual needs.

Your dog is telling you he’s had enough when is panting heavily, and no longer actively participating in the activity. He may no longer bring back a ball, or he may lie down under a shady tree during your run. Be watchful for these signals because over-exercising him when he’s tired may lead to injury.


Methods of Exercising Your Dog

There are many ways of exercising your dog, and you’re sure to find one that you also enjoy.

Walking. Keep your dog on a leash as you walk, for his own safety. Walking is a healthy activity for both of you, and is a great way to unwind at the end of a busy day. You may find, depending on your dog, that you can’t walk far enough to tire him out. If that’s the case, you may need to take up running or biking with him, or play with him when you get home.

Running. You don’t need to run long distances to use up your dog’s energy. Again, keep him on a leash and when you are starting, stick to grass, sand and other soft surfaces until his pads toughen. Dogs are like people in that they need to build up to a distance, so use a walk/run program such as the Couch to 5k (www.c25k.com) with him, until he is fit enough to go further.

Cycling. You can purchase accessories for your bicycle that hold your dog’s leash as you ride. This allows you to run your dog longer distances than you may be able to go on foot. Your dog will need some time to get used to being close to your bike, so spend a few days just riding up and down your sidewalk before you venture further afield. This is an advanced skill to take your time.

Swimming. This is particularly good for dogs with sore legs, because they can exercise without putting any weight on them. Your dog can swim in the ocean or a poll, and it will also keep him cool as he works out.

Retrieving. Playing fetch is a great option if you prefer not to exercise yourself, or if your dog needs to burn up a bit more energy after a walk. Your dog can fetch a ball or other toy, for as long he wants or as long as you’re prepared to throw it for him. You can teach your dog to play Frisbee with you, and this is a great party trick for when you go to the beach. Whatever you play with, keep your throws low and don’t allow your dog to leap in the air to catch his toy, particular on hard surfaces. This is a recipe for knee injuries.

Dog Sports. Dog agility, lure coursing and flyball are fast sports that keep a dog physically and mentally in great condition. There are clubs all over the country, and both you and your dog will have a lot of fun training and competing in these sports. They are particularly good for improving your mental connection with your dog, and a great way to build your relationship.


Exercising Your Dog’s Mind

Dogs are intelligent creatures, and need mental stimulation to avoid boredom related behavioral problems. You can play fun games with him to keep him thinking; alternatively consider purchasing toys such as the Buster Cube. You can put his kibble into this cube, and he will spend hours working out how to get it out.

Other fun games include:

Find it – take one of your dog’s favorite treats, and hide it in a room. Tell your dog to “Seek” and encourage him to search for his treat. You can also hide his favorite toy, but make sure you let your dog play with the toy before you hide it again. This will keep him interested in it for next time.

Tunnel game – make a tunnel out of large cardboard boxes and encourage your dog to go through it.

Find your dinner – hide the kibble for your dog’s dinner in your backyard and help him scrounge around until he finds it. This can keep him busy for quite a while.

Pick a bowl – put a treat under one of three bowls and see if your dog can sniff it out. Watch him try and turn the bowl over to get at the treat.

It does take time and effort to exercise your dog’s body and mind, but it’s worth it. A tired dog is a happy dog, and is much less likely to into mischief.

Adopting a Rescue Dog – The First Seven Days
By: Dr. Susan Wright & Misty Weaver

Feeding and Toileting Routines for your Rescue Dog

Dogs are creatures of habit, and are happiest when they have a familiar schedule or routine to follow. This needn’t be cast in stone, but in general, they should fed and walked at a similar time each day.

There are two main areas in which you should establish routines for your dog: feeding and toileting.

Feeding

Frequency of meals: How often should you feed your dog? In the early stages, you should feed him as often as the staff did in the shelter. That may be once a day, or twice a day. By doing this, you reduce the chance of diarrhea associated with a change in feeding regimen.

Most people prefer to feed their dogs twice a day. Your dog may already be on this schedule, or you may want to change from a once daily meal to feeding him twice daily. If so, for the first few days divide his meal so that he gets most of his food at the usual time, and only a small amount for his second meal. Over the course of seven to ten days, gradually even out the amount he is being fed so that eventually, he is having two meals a day.

Give your dog only ten minutes to finish his meal, and remove any leftovers. If he doesn’t want it, he has been given too much. Overfeeding him will lead to obesity and its associated health problems: arthritis, heart disease and diabetes.

Similarly, don’t leave food out for your dog to have an all you can eat doggie buffet. This too will lead to excessive weight gain.

Young puppies may need three meals a day, until they are three to four months old.

What to feed your dog: Again, feed your dog the same food he was given in the shelter, to avoid diarrhea. Gradually transition to your preferred food over the course of seven to ten days, by increasing the amount of his new food and reducing the amount of his old food each day.

When it comes to dog food, you get what you pay for. Cheap foods have a higher cereal content, whereas more expensive foods have higher quality ingredients with more meat content. The more pricey foods are also highly digestible so you need to feed them less, and they produce less feces. You don’t need to buy the most expensive food, a kibble that is middle of the range is fine. You may have to experiment a bit to find one you like.

After meals, let your dog rest for an hour or so. Don’t run around with him, or take him for a walk. Dogs, particularly those with a deep chest, are at risk of bloat if they exercise too soon after a meal, and this can be life threatening.

How much to feed your dog: The feeding guide on the bag of dog food is a good starting point when it comes to working out how much to feed your dog. However, it is only a guide. Watch your dog, and adjust how much you feed him based on his body condition.

You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs as you run your hands over his body. Also, his abdomen should be tucked up. If he’s a bit curvaceous, cut back on the amount you are feeding him.

Treats

Many people associate treats with love – they give their dogs a yummy snack to show them how much they care. This can be killing them with kindness, as many dog treats are high in fat. Instead of showing your affection with food, why not give him some extra attention or play time? He’ll appreciate that just as much.

If you want to give your dog a treat, keep them from when you want to train him. Your dog will quickly learn to sit, drop and stay if there is a delicious reward for him.


Toileting

In America, over 90% of dogs live inside the home with their family. This means that if you rescue a dog, you’ll have to go through the same toilet training procedures that you would if you had a puppy. This will ensure he learns exactly where you want him to go to the toilet.

Most dogs are fully toilet trained within a matter of weeks, however it can take longer if he has developed bad habits in the past. Having a regular feeding schedule will allow you to better predict when your dog needs to go outside, and will reduce the risk of accidents.

For quickest results, follow these simple rules for toilet training your dog.

1. Never punish him if you catch him going to the toilet in the wrong place. This will only teach him that he mustn’t be caught, and he will become more secretive in his toileting habits.

2. Don’t punish him if you come home and find an accident. He won’t connect your anger with his toileting, and it won’t teach him anything. Not only that, it will teach him that you are someone to be feared.

3. Never leave your dog unattended inside. Keep him on a leash and bring with you wherever you go. If you see him sniffing and looking like he needs to go to the toilet, take him outside to his toilet area, and praise him enthusiastically when he goes.

4. If you can’t watch your dog, confine him in his crate. Dogs don’t usually soil their den, so he’s not likely to go to the toilet there. Make sure you take him outside regularly and praise him for toileting in the right place.

5. If you life in an apartment, you may prefer to use pre-treated toileting pads which encourage your dog to go to the toilet on them. If so, the training technique is the same.

6. When your dog is reliably toileting in the right spot, you can start to add a verbal command to this behavior. As he goes to the toilet, tell him to “Do your business” or “Potty”. It won’t take long for him to associate the word with going to the toilet, and you can then use the word when you need him to go in a hurry, such as before bed time.

7. Make sure you take him outside to go to the toilet even if it’s raining. He needs to know that he must go outside to the toilet, whether or not the weather is bad.

Dogs feel most secure when they can predict their daily routine. Initially, work out a schedule and be prepared to adjust it in those first few weeks with a new dog. It won’t take long until you have a routine that suits both you and your dog.

Adopting a Rescue Dog – The First Seven Days
By: Dr. Susan Wright & Misty Weaver

Settling Down Your Rescue Dog for Bed Time

You and your new dog have survived your first day together, and it’s now time for you both to go to bed. You can expect your dog to be a little unsettled during his first night in his new home.

Where should your dog sleep? It’s a good idea to allow him to sleep in your bedroom, so you are close to him should he need you during the night. You can either make him a comfortable bed in his crate, or tether him to the one spot in your room. That way he’s not allowed to wander the house at night, which can lead to toileting accidents or destruction of shes and other belongings. Don’t allow him to sleep in your bed in these early days, until he is well aware of his position in the household pack.

As an alternative, you may wish to put his crate in another part of the house, or confine him to a separate room such as the laundry room. Whatever you do, don’t leave him to his own devices in your home.

Feed your dog a few hours before it’s time to go to sleep, so he doesn’t have an uncomfortably full stomach.

Just before bedtime, take him for a walk, or play ball with him so he is quite tired. That way he’s more likely to sleep well, and will be less concerned about being in a strange place.

Make sure he has been to the toilet so he’s comfortable at bed time.


Night Time Whimpers

It’s not uncommon for dogs to cry at night if they’re a bit afraid or uncertain. This will as he becomes more comfortable in his new environment. Also, if your dog is young, he may not have a very big bladder, and he may need to go outside for the toilet.

If your dog is crying for attention, you can reach over and calm him briefly with a quick pat. However, don’t overdo it, or he will keep on whimpering. If the noise continues, you can tell him to “Be quiet” in a firm but gentle tone. You may have to ignore any further crying, so he learns that whimpering doesn’t get him the attention he wants.

Make sure you are consistent with your reaction to his whimpering. There’s no point in patting him when he cries one night, then ignoring him the next. That will only confuse him, and he’ll take longer to learn what you expect from him at night time.

The Next Morning

When you wake up in the morning, take your dog straight outside to his toilet area, and praise him when he goes to the toilet. This will help him learn where his toilet area is, and quickly teach him not to go inside the home.

Having a new dog in your home isn’t a lot different than having a new baby. They both can be noisy at night, and they both need patience and understanding. It won’t take long before your dog is settled and you can again enjoy an unbroken night’s sleep.

Adopting a Rescue Dog – The First Seven Days
By: Dr. Susan Wright & Misty Weaver

Introducing Your Rescue Dog to the Home

When you bring your new dog home from the shelter, it’s a day for celebration. However, look at things from your dog’s point of view. He has left a busy, noisy environment and is traveling in a car with people he doesn’t know to a place he doesn’t know. It’s no surprise that he may be a little scared and anxious.

Plan to bring him home on a weekend, or at a time when you can spend a day or two with him. Don’t bring him home then go off to work the next day. He’ll need you there to make him feel secure in those first few days. It’s also not a good idea to have too many people there to welcome him. It may be quite overwhelming, so ask your friends and neighbors to give him a few days to settle in before they come visiting.

Before you actually take your dog inside your home, go for a long walk with him, to relieve some of his excitement and nervous energy. This will make his introduction to his home and family a little calmer.

Introducing Your Dog To Your Home

Your dog should be treated as a member of your family, so bring him inside to live with you. Don’t leave him outside without anyone to keep an eye on him. It will take a little while for him to realize this is his home, and until then, he may try to escape.

Don’t give him the opportunity to destroy things around the home. Make sure you tidy up and pick up anything that a dog may want to chew. Stay with him as he explores his home, and don’t leave him to wander unattended.

Give him some time to get used to his new environment, and the people in it. You may find that, until he relaxes with you, he may be a bit reserved. However, once he settles in, he’ll become much more outgoing. He may actually go too far, just to test his boundaries. This is when you need to be firm, gentle and consistent, so he learns the rules of your household.

Give your new dog the opportunity to have some time out if he’s looking a little overwhelmed. Allow him to retreat to a place where he feels safe, and ask your family members to leave him alone. He might just need a little time to regroup, and he’ll be back to play again very quickly.

When you are introducing your dog to new people, make sure they have lots of delicious treats. Your dog’s first impression of your family and friends should be positive. Allow the dog to make the first approach, and give him a treat. Don’t try and pat him straight away, allow him to sniff you and explore you, all the while treating him generously.

Introducing Your New Dog to Your Old Dog

Dogs can be quite territorial, so you need to handle this introduction carefully. Your old dog may see your new dog as a threat, and feel the need to defend his home turf. Make sure you pick up any bones and toys from around your home and yard, to reduce the likelihood your existing dog will want to guard his things.

If your old dog is well socialized and has had some obedience training, there’s not likely to be a problem. However, follow these steps to make the introduction go as smoothly as possible:

1. Try to introduce the dogs on neutral territory. Go to a dog park or a neighbor’s yard, so there is no territorial behavior to get in the way, however make sure it is fenced. If possible, to gauge their reaction to each other. Make sure you have a helper to manage one of the dogs, should there be a problem.

2. Have both dogs on a secure collar (not a choke collar or a prong collar) for the introduction. A Gentle Leader or other head halter is a better idea still; you’ll have much head control than with a collar.

3. Relax. Dogs are very good at picking up on your mood, and if you’re nervous, they’ll think there is something to be nervous about. This can make them tense, and increase the risk of hostility when they meet.

4. Allow one dog at a time to walk over the other, and let them approach the other dog in his own time. You can expect them to sniff each other’s bottom when they meet; try to avoid tangling their leash so you still have control over their heads. If there is any hostility; tell the cranky dog to “Settle down” in a calm, firm voice.

5. Most dogs are quite happy to have a new friend, but some may want to squabble. If there is a fight, don’t pull the dogs apart by the leash. The leashes will probably get tangled up, and pulling them won’t have much effect, except perhaps to pull the dogs closer! Each person should grab one dog by the hind legs and pull them apart. If there is going to be hostility, you may need professional help to teach your dogs to live in harmony.

6. When your dogs begin to relax around each other, let go of the leashes, but don’t take them off yet. That way you can still grab them if you need to. At this point, take them home, but keep the leashes on. You may find that there are tension that did not arise while at the neutral territory.

7. It’s important to feed your dogs separately, at least for the first few weeks until you can ascertain that they’re not going to be protective of their food.

Dogs are pack animals, and enjoy having a canine playmate. By carefully introducing them, both dogs will happily share your home with each other.


Introducing Your Dog to Your Children

Dogs and children make the best companions. If fact, your children may have played a large part in your decision to get a dog. They can also help to take care of him, and this will encourage a close bond between them.

Education. Teach your children about how to safely interact with your dog. Show them how to stroke him gently. Teach them how to recognize when your dog is saying, “Leave me alone,” and make sure they don’t annoy him when he is in his crate, or den.

Supervision. Never ever leave any child alone with a dog, no matter how much you trust them both. The best behaved dog is quite capable of snapping at your child if he is hurt, and most dog bites to children are inflicted by their own usually loving family pet.

Involvement. Children are quite capable of helping to take care of your dog. It gives them a sense of responsibility, and it relieves you of some of the workload. Make sure you give your child a chore that’s appropriate for their age and ability. For example, a younger child is able to brush your dog, but it isn’t safe to allow them to take your dog for walk.

Possible Problems

Even a housebroken dog can make mistakes, particularly when they’re stressed. Don’t get angry at your new dog if he has an accident, and certainly don’t punish him. This will only make him afraid of you, and this is no way to start your relationship. Take him outdoors regularly, and praise him when he goes. It won’t take long for him to learn where he can go to the restroom.

Shelter dogs may crave attention, and they may jump on you or nudge you for cuddles all the time. Don’t give in, or he will learn that this is an acceptable way to behave. Ignore this behavior, and he will ultimately give up. Having said that, he does need attention so make sure you him cuddles, but on your terms.

If your dog is a little fearful or aggressive when he arrives at your home, don’t molly coddle him to make it all okay. This is inadvertently rewarding this behavior, and you’ll be making him more likely to continue to be frightened or cranky. If this behavior persists, seek professional help.

Don’t punish your dog if he misbehaves; he may not yet have learned what’s expected of him. Punishment now will also make your dog afraid of you, and is no way to build a close relationship with him. You will need to build up a little more trust before you can use a correction as part of your training. Instead try and redirect negative behavior, showing the dog what they should be doing instead of focusing on what they should not be doing.

You must be committed to spending time to help your dog settle into your family life. You’re setting the stage for your future together, so teach him your rules, give him time to adjust, and you’ll have a best friend for life.

Adopting a Rescue Dog – The First Seven Days
By: Dr. Susan Wright & Misty Weaver