Remember this phrase when bringing home a new dog: Consistency is everything. Even if you are asking the dog to sit before eating, do it every time. These little acts reinforce to your pup that you are in charge, and he/she sees you as the leader. For the sake of easy reading, we will refer to a dog as he or him.
- Many people give their dog one area at first (especially if a puppy) until he learns the smell and sounds of a new home. Too many stimuli can be overwhelming. At first, limit the number of people to whom your dog is exposed. Let him slowly acclimate to his environment. A nice, easy transition works wonders.
- One way to show him acceptable areas in your home is to keep him on a leash for a few weeks. This is especially handy when you need to let him out to go potty. He can’t run around or run away on a leash. But NEVER leave a dog on a leash in a crate or unsupervised. NEVER leave a choke collar on a dog in a crate either. Too many dogs have been lost by choking when the collar got caught on something.
- Spend lots of time with him the first week or so and keep him away from the other pets for a few weeks if you are not home. Until you are certain of their interactions and reactions, don’t leave them unsupervised with other pets.
- Remember that this is new territory for a puppy or a rescue dog. Accidents will happen. Even if the rescue dog was well trained from the previous owner. He doesn’t know your house, your rules, his areas and he may be apprehensive. This results in accidents. Do not punish a dog if he has an accident. Use positive reinforcement when he goes outside. Simply, be consistent with praise or treats every time he goes outside until he learns the routine.
- Dogs, like their predecessors the wolf, are den animals. They like to have “their space.” This is another reason crate training is ideal. It becomes their den, their haven, their respite. Before you know it, your dog will go into his crate voluntarily with the door open to rest. They sometimes need to get away from humans, too! But beware of how much time you crate your dog. Especially if you have an active dog. Once out, dogs need exercise. For proper crate size, a dog must be able to stand, turn around and move with enough space without crouching over. With puppies, you follow the same guidelines, but no extra space. If you give puppies too much space, they may go potty in their crates. Generally, they won’t go where they sleep, so allowing them enough space to rest and sleep, but not move away from that spot (to a free area of the crate) is a perfect size. Use a small crate for puppies and take them out immediately upon opening the crate. Soon, they will get the idea to hold it and relieve themselves only when outside. Note: puppies need to go out every hour to hour-and-a-half until they learn to hold it a few hours.
A few key takeaways: get professional training for your dog if you are uncomfortable with training or don’t have the time. Keep consistent structure. Consistency is everything to a dog. They look to their pack leader for this (you.) And dogs quickly learn what is acceptable and what is not. They aim to please. Communication and respect go a long way, resulting in a happy pup and owner.
Your patience and training will form a great bond and reward for you both. And always give lots of love and affection. That is the best reward.