Preparing a home for new puppy love
Choose wisely. When selecting a dog for a family, remember that different breeds are known to exhibit specific traits. Animal trainer April Mackin said, “Cocker spaniels, for example, tend to be sweet-natured, playful dogs that make great family pets, but being a sporting breed, regular exercise is especially important for them, so make sure those traits blend well with your family’s personality.”
Make a good first impression. When meeting a new dog, whether at a pound or a pet shop, give the animal a chance to get to know the family. “A bad idea would be to over-zealously hug the animal and smother it with kisses, as that could feel very invasive,” Mackin said. “Give him time to sniff and approach you, allowing him to warm up to you gradually.”
Prepare the home. Mackin said that the first few days during which a dog is introduced into a new home are crucial for a successful transition. To make a puppy’s new environment welcoming and safe, set up protected areas like a crate or a zone that is been contained by a baby gate. Be mindful of any areas the pup might get into in the backyard. New spring bulbs, for example, might be poisonous if eaten and the fertilizer, even if organic, can be harmful to the pet, if ingested.
Prepare the family. Discuss the training that needs to be put into the new pet’s first few months. One way to start is to watch a puppy love film, such as “Lady and the Tramp,” as a family. These types of films portray many situations a family will encounter with a new pet and can be paused so parents can discuss issues as they arise.
Set rules. When training a new pet, it is important to decide as a family what the rules will be for the dog and commit to being consistent with those rules. Mackin said, “Is it OK for him to be on the sofa? If the answer is no, then be sure everyone knows this and agrees to follow this rule.” When training an animal, be kind, but also firm, even if the dog whines or begs. Setting and following rules will help this new pet understand what is expected and he or she pet will be happier knowing he or she is doing the right thing.
Schedule bathroom breaks. If dogs learn that they will be let out regularly, it is easier for them to become house trained. They need to trust that their owner will take care of them and respond to their needs. “Praise your dog every time he goes potty outside at first,” Mackin said. “They want to please you, so they’ll pick up on this faster if they think it gets them rewarded. Rescue dogs may try to mark inside your home the first few days, but this behavior will diminish with gentle yet firm reminders. Puppies may require extra patience, as sometimes they simply can’t hold it.”
Make time for exercise. Mackin said, “Pets need regular exercise just like people and daily walks are a great way to accomplish this.” Use a leash for safety, unless in an area safe from traffic or crowds.
Reward good dogs. When a dog successfully “does business” outside, comes when called or waits patiently at the door while his or her owner gathers the leash, heap on the praise. “Your dog is looking to you for signals affirming good behavior,” Mackin said.
Be patient. Sometimes a dog may be distracted, tired or needs more time to learn a command. Do not let frustrations out on the dog. “Keep training sessions short – 2 – 3 minutes – and if things aren’t going well, take a break and come back to it when you’re calm and both you and the dog can focus,” Mackin said.
Owners who need help with training can call their local SPCAs or veterinarians to ask where they would recommend contacting for some local dog training classes.