May 18

Welcoming a New Dog

Having fostered more than 40 dogs and puppies and taken a course in canine behavior, I’ve learned a lot about how to acclimate and bond with pets joining a household. So when my bestie called to tell me that she would be adopting a one-year-old rescued Dachshund and wanted advice, I decided I should write down my Top Five tips.

First, watch Zach George’s fantastic video on Welcoming a Puppy. He’s one of my favorite trainers and you can learn a lot from him, especially at a time when it will be challenging to take obedience classes. Even if you’re bringing home an adult dog, his ideas will reduce stress for all involved. Subscribe to his YouTube channel. He’s great.

Second, download a socialization list. If the puppy is under 12 weeks, you’ll want to read up on why this period is so critical to dogs and get to work on the list. If your dog is over 12 weeks, using the socialization list as a checklist can help you understand what situations and environmental experiences can trigger a reaction in your dog and what areas you’ll need to work on with him.

Third, learn clicker training as a great way to communicate and control your dog to keep him safe and confident. Take a clicker and a treat bag on every walk and learn how to help your dog navigate any scenario. Your dog wants to please you. Training helps him to become his best self and feel confident. Screaming at a dog does the opposite.

Fourth, read up on feeding methods that don’t use a food bowl. Frozen Kongs, puzzle feeders, snufflemats, learn to earn training, etc are all great ways to give your dog the mental stimulation every dog needs.

Five, make time for dog walks daily even if they are short or the weather isn’t ideal because dog walks serve a variety of roles for a dog. It encourages healthy elimination habits, gives him needed exercise, helps him bond with you and gives him great mental stimulation. Ideally, most dogs want two walks a day and if you can sneak in a play session like fetch, all the better. Letting a dog out to do his business in the yard does not accomplish the same thing as a walk. Well-exercised dogs are generally happier, healthier, have fewer accidents and are less destructive as well. Read up on the importance of getting the correct harness or leader for your dog’s size and behavior issues.