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Old 27.11.2012, 16:55
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Adopting a dog - first few days

Hello everyone, please forgive me if this topic has been covered before - I couldn't find it. I have read the threads on adopting dogs, where to go, to do the Brevet etc., but I was wondering - recommendations for those first few days at home. Should you let the dog sniff everywhere and explore? Confine them to a smaller area of the house? Keep visitors away (within reason). Tell the kids to ignore it? What if the dog is really friendly and wants to say hello to everyone?

Sorry if my questions sound silly. Do people advocate a cage? would that not be stressful for a rescue dog? Or maybe babygate off an area of the house?

I have not done the Brevet yet - I intend on doing it with my eldest son who is very interested in dogs. I grew up on a farm with dogs all around, but as yet have never owned one myself. We do have however two cats, a snake and a lizard.....

Thanks for any suggestions you have. Or maybe this will all be covered in the Brevet? and one last thing - any recommendations of teachers of Brevet in the Vaud area? Specifically around Nyon. French or English, it doesn't matter. Thanks a lot!
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Old 27.11.2012, 17:06
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Re: Adopting a dog - first few days

I think our resident pet oracle will be along shortly.

First thing that stands out to me is your mention of cats. Are you cats ok with dogs? More importantly, will the rescue dog be ok with cats? Something to check before committing.

With reference to your cage question; many many people use crate training. Plenty of info online about this. I did not use crate training, and was something I did kind of regret, but no real big issue. The important thing is to set the cage up as their bed, their safe place, and never use it as form as punishment. They should see the crate as their home within the home and not a bad thing.

To begin with I started with a room, as I had two spare, that was dedicated to the dog. Toilet pads, toys, food, water etc. It was funny actually as on arrival in the apartment I took him to the room to show him the pads, and said "you go toilet here ok". Of course, I was being silly, how would he understand. But an hour later he jumped off my lap, ran to the back room, and did a pee on the pads. I thought boy have I got a smart one here. Sure enough, 1's and 2's all over the place soon enough.

Of course, the goal is to go outside as early as possible, and if you are getting a rescue may already be house trained. Mine was 3 months so, there was the pads to outside step to take.

Lastly, with regards to being friendly and wanting to say hello to everyone, well thats your call. My dog is like that but not everyone appreciates it. I guess it's how you want your dog to be. I like my dog to be friendly, and will accept the odd miserable person or antisocial dog. Alternative is the wary dog, which I think is more prone to cause negative reactions in certain situations, but opinions here will vary.

Good luck
Small minds are concerned with the extraordinary, great minds with the ordinary, Blaise Pascal
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Old 27.11.2012, 17:31
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Re: Adopting a dog - first few days

Depending on your dog's history, you may want to limit where he can go at certain times. I crate my 7-month-old puppy at night and limit where she can go during the day - she's now very good and rarely does her business in the house.

It helps that I work from home 3 days per week so she's rarely left on her own.

You want to teach the dog to indicate when it's time to go - and also learn when it's likely to be time. You should not take too long to get the harmony established.

I had a rescue 8 years ago, he did one pee in the house and that was it - but he was an addition to the gang, we had two dogs at that time. This helps....one teaches the other.

HTH, you'll get more advice I'm sure.
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Old 27.11.2012, 18:21
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Re: Adopting a dog - first few days

It very much depends on the individual dog, the breed and to an extent whether it's been neutered. I took on an unneutered pug and he spent the first 48 hours peeing everywhere, marking his territory. It got to the point I was having serious second thoughts, but then he calmed down. And agreed about letting them in only a certain area, my boy had a few rooms which were off-limit to him. That may also help with his adjusting to his place in the pack and being settled.
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Old 27.11.2012, 20:41
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Re: Adopting a dog - first few days

First of all - congratulations on the new family member! Good on ya for adopting a dog in need.

I have a standard protocol when bringing a newly adopted dog into our family; some of what I do is because I have a multi-dog household, but most of it is applicable to any family situation.

There are three things one needs on hand during those first settling in days: A sense of humor, plenty of patience... and a well-stocked wine cellar. The last is for those 'what have I done?' moments.

Because every single owner - first timer and old hand - has those moments. But then you look into those big brown eyes, and laugh.


In a nutshell: Take nothing for granted, make no assumptions, safety first - and start as you more or less mean to go on, setting your dog up for success.


Understand that everything is new to your dog. He doesn't know you yet, hasn't had time to suss out the lay of the land - so he might be a bit reticent, frightened or shut down at first, especially if he has been in kennels a long time. Or he may be over-exuberant, bouncy, excited at each new thing. It may take time - sometimes weeks, sometimes months - for the dog's real character to emerge.

Be prepared to roll with the punches, be prepared for a few surprises. (This is where the wine cellar comes in. )


When I bring a new dog into the home I make no assumptions - ever. For the dog's sake, for the sake of all two and four-legged family members the newbie is always under my direct supervision during the initial settling in period - and for the few times when that isn't possible I set up a 'Newbie Den', a safe comfortable place separate from the rest of the household where he can relax or get away from it all, where there is no chance of conflict when I am not there to supervise.

I use a guest room off the main rooms - everything the newbie could want is in there - bedding, water, toys, etc. A baby gate separates this room from the rest of the house. The newbie can see what is going on, the other dogs can see him. Gradually I'll relax this, but in the initial phase it's either under my direct supervision or in the Newbie Den. Safety first.


Speaking of no assumptions: even if the newbie is thought to be house trained I start off as if he were a pup, not matter what age. Outside on lead with me, cue word, praise for performance, then release to play. I do this every few hours (depending on the age), just as I would with a puppy. Soon the newbie learns our routine.


I take NO chances when out and about at first. Walks are on lead only until I have proofed the newbie's recall. I use short lines in town, long lines in the fields - but never assume recall until you have trained it yourself. It only takes a split second to lose your new dog.


Prior to adoption I would have already gone through a lengthy assessment process to determine compatibility with my existing pack. But even then I don't take chances. The newbie has now come into the existing dog's territory so the potential for conflict must be considered. Therefore all toys or other resources that could spark conflict are put away. As above, the crew is always under my direct supervision. Unless I am right there, we separate until such time as the dogs have shown me that the newbie is fully integrated into the crew.

Obviously you will need to do a variation of this wrt your cats. I assume you assessed cat friendliness at the shelter? Even then, keep a watchful eye out with your cats, as this is their territory. If needed, keep the newbie on a house line until you have proofed cat-friendliness - even when you are right there. The house line means you can react quickly enough if there is undue interest.

Ditto children: Again, I assume your new dog was assessed as able to live with children - nonetheless, the children MUST have proper behavior around dogs drummed into their heads. No grabbing, no rough play, no running and shrieking - and no bothering the dog when he is in his sleeping place. Depending on the age of the children, you might want to instill a rule that they children must ask you first before instigating play. (Obviously you will be in a better position to judge if the dog is happy to play at the time.)

A dog must be allowed a 'time out' place - either a newbie den, or a bed in a corner, etc - somewhere where the children are not allowed to go, ever. Even the most child-friendly dog sometimes gets tired, and needs a break. As your dog is just learning the family routine, this is very important.


By the same token, even though I have assessed the newbie as compatible with my own crew I take no chances with dogs we meet out and about. If I don't know the owner we just politely walk by. Dogs and owners I know and trust are introduced to the newbie at our Hundeschule, a good neutral space which is fenced in, so that the dogs can bumble about off lead. (Remember we are still in the recall proofing phase, so no off-lead in unenclosed areas.) I watch body language carefully to get an idea of the newbie's reaction to other dogs - once I have a good idea of his character I might relax the protocol with strange dogs - or not, depending on what I learn in this phase.


Food is the ultimate resource that a dog might want to guard, so feeding is done separately during this phase. I usually feed as training rewards throughout the day rather than in a bowl, but this isn't a great idea with an established pack and newbie who has not yet shown that he understands the concepts of wait and share. So we go back to feeding in bowls - under my supervision, giving each dog space. If I have any thought that the newbie has food issues I feed him behind the baby gate in the separate room. Gradually as I learn more about the newbie's character I relax this - and try to switch over to reward feeding soon-ish.

In your case, be careful to feed the cats and new dog under supervision or separately to avoid food possessiveness issues. And the children must understand that they may not tease the dog with food - or even hold their own food in such a way that the dog might get the wrong idea and mug them for it.


You mentioned that this is your first dog - have you already done the SKN theory course? This is the course that is required for all owners who have not previously had a dog registered in their name in Switzerland; having grown up with dogs doesn't count, only having been the legal owner, with the dog registered to you does. The theory course must be done before you acquire a dog. If you haven't done it, do it ASAP. Your son isn't required to do the course, you are as the legal owner, the person in whose name the dog is registered in ANIS.

The newbie will obviously have to do the SKN practical course as well; again, this must be done with the adult in whose name the dog is registered. Some trainers allow another family member to accompany you, but check first. Understand that ultimately, the responsibility is yours.


Next: Training.

Positive, reward based training is the way to go - reward your dog for the behavior you want, rather than punish that which you don't want. (All the SKN classes are based on positive training methods.) Dogs need their intelligence exercised as much as their bodies; a good mental workout is as much a daily requirement as a good physical workout. Dogs relish learning - we owners need to provide them the opportunity, every single day.

I start training the day the newbie comes home. It's preferable to do so in a class, but if that isn't possible I work with the newbie myself. Since my other dogs all go to Familienhund classes I would have already arranged with the trainer for the newbie to join a class well in advance of his arrival. It's preferable to start with the SKN first, but if there isn't a class for a few weeks or months I start with Familienhund on day 1 and do the SKN as soon as possible thereafter.

Some of my dogs have been in awful physical shape upon arrival; when that is the case I start doing training as appropriate for their condition. If a newbie is in such mental distress that Familienhund would be counterproductive at this time I ask the trainer to do 1-1 sessions with us at our home, or I work with the newbie by myself until he has recovered to the point where he can handle a more social setting.

But every dog should start training right away - because training is an excellent way to build the dog/owner bond - and it's an activity that most dogs absolutely love. This is the 'start as you mean to go on' point.

Because I have a multiple dog household training is two-fold. First I work with the newbie on his own, and then again with the group. Every skill needs to be proofed in a group setting as well as on the dog's own. In your household, every skill needs to be proofed not only with you, but also with the distractions of the cats and children around.

In addition to training classes, I work on social skills from day 1 - that means walks in town, taking the trains, stopping by a cafe for coffee, etc. I go at the newbie's pace, I never put a dog into a situation he might find difficult to handle - but this is on the top of the to-do list.

A couple of good all-purpose training books:
Dr Sophia Yin, 'How To Behave So Your Dog Behaves'
Jean Donaldson, 'Train Your Dog Like A Pro'

And a book I think every dog owed should read:
Brenda Aloff, 'Canine Body Language, a Photographic Guide'


Another life skill that is necessary is the vet visit. Your vet is the only person who can do the ANIS registration, so you need to have this done soon anyway. Let the practice know that this is a first visit, ask if a little extra time can be put aside so that the dog has a chance to look around, greet the staff, get a few treats - make sure it is a good experience. I prefer to do the introductory visit first, without treatment that might cause distress (like a jab). I want the newbie to have a good experience with the vet from the start.


I do not allow visitors in the initial settling in phase - largely because I can't control visitor's actions. Until I have thoroughly assess my newbie's training, social skills, anxieties, training needs and flash points I keep the house quiet, stick to a low-key routine. In your case, I would discourage you from having your children'f friends over as your dog is settling in - that's often too much activity so soon in the relationship. If you do have visitors, your dog should be under your direct supervision at all times - or in his safe separate place.


And lastly, practice good etiquette at all times. Even if your dog seems friendly and eager to greet others, always ask the other person or other dog owner if contact is OK before letting him approach. Not everyone is a dog lover, and not every dog wants contact with his fellow canines. Respect others at all times. Follow Gemeinde, canton and federal law, keep your dog leashed where so required, pick up after him.


Much of this is only common sense - as you get to know your new friend - and he you - make no assumptions, keep an eye on safety at all times. Managing the settling in phase simply sets your dog up for success.

Wishing you, your family and your new doglet all the very best.
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Old 27.11.2012, 21:19
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Re: Adopting a dog - first few days

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There are three things one needs on hand during those first settling in days: A sense of humor, plenty of patience... and a well-stocked wine cellar. The last is for those 'what have I done?' moments.
I did a lot of reading, but none of the books suggested the wine cellar. That is a very good point.

There is not much I can add except to say that I am a firm believer in crate training. I know it is not for everyone, but we never had any extra room to gate off, so we had no choice but to use crates. One big advantage of this is that anytime our dogs have ever need to go into a crate, even after a minor procedure at the vet, they will do so without a battle. Same for the car.

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Old 08.12.2012, 21:13
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Re: Adopting a dog - first few days

I just checked it quickely.

But I wouldnt be affraid of the peepee and "making bussines" in house. It is surprissing, but when the dog is grown up(no more puppy-most of rescue dogs), he has a good controll over these things and make no "accidents". He makes just what he really wants. Such as the pug that peed all over the place. If you will not accept it, he will not do it.

I think it is important, to firts think about where you want the dog to be/walk, and where he will sleep-calm place, where no one go to often, where kids dont run around and so on. Than you show the dog, the place to stay, something soft, watter and food. and than he will be curious and go with you and walk around. And you just have to say "no" whenever he steps where he shouldnt. It can take a lot of "no"s but it works better than the door closed and everything.

with rescue dog you have to be allways sensitive, but you can be sure he will do his best for you
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