Have your munchkins been asking, pleading, begging for a dog? Have you given any serious thought to bringing a pooch into your family? Knee jerk thought is- “clearly we would have to get a puppy.” Not the case. Did you know that you can foster an animal from a local animal rescue? When you are a foster you are giving a homeless pet a temporary home until their “fur-ever” home is found. This is an amazing way to “try out” a rescue dog to see if they will be a great fit in your family and home before committing to a new pet only to find that it just isn’t right…AND bonus points in teaching your kids about helping others. (cool right?)

Here are some pointers in bringing your new pet home…whether he be a puppy or a rescue pooch.

 What you’ll need:

  • Buckle Collar (harness for small dogs-collars can collapse their tracheas!)
  • Leash
  • ID tags
  • Wire crate
  • Pet bed
  • Good quality dog food
  • Water & food bowls
  • Toys (ask foster what this pooch prefers)

Before Pooch comes home:

Have Fidos bowls set up, put his bed down, set up the kennel and toss out some toys. Make sure to put away anything laying on the floor that is not a toy for your pooch or he may get confused.

 Tips when you get home:

When you get to your home Take Fido straight out to the back yard, unleash, ignore and wait for him to go potty. When he does throw a potty party! …this is a great way to set him up for success, better outside than in your house right? This isn’t just for puppies, a reminder is good for everyone in a new environment.

Set the ground rules

Set your pooch up for success from the beginning ie: If your pooch is not going to be allowed on the couch then the first day is no exception, if he is not allowed to jump then now is when you start enforcing that.

 The first few days

The first few days are going to be a lot of getting to know your new family members behaviors, good and bad.  Your rescue dog has probably come from a less than idea home whether that be a home filled with abuse or simply a lack of attention (both detrimental to an animals well being).

For the first few days keep your pooch in the same room as you at all times. Sometimes they will naturally follow and sometimes it takes coaxing, but by doing this you are able to keep a close eye on those tail-tail signs of trouble

  • smelling around looking for a place to go potty
  • picking up items that are not his toys
  • getting onto furniture that is off-limits
  • showing aggression to another pet or family member

All of this is completely normal when introducing a new pet into your home. It is your responsibility to prevent it from happening again and by starting as soon as you bring him home you are setting the example of your home rules.

Remember that your pet is probably going to be nervous in his new home. There are new people, pets, sounds, smell, rooms, food, neighbors…I could go on and on. It is ok to see your new pet anxious and pacing, sometimes even panting. The most common stressor to new pet owners is “I don’t think he likes me.” Do not be surprised if it takes your pooch about a month to warm up to his new surroundings, that means you too!

Potty training and the rescue pooch

Even if the foster of your rescue dog says he is 100% potty trained, this is just at their house. When you bring Fido home he is in a completely new environment and this could very well change, but you’re in luck because potty training any age dog simply needs consistency. Accidents when you first bring your new pet home are common; after all it is very stressful moving in with a whole new family. Keeping Fido close by in the beginning is best and when you are not directly able to supervise, in the kennel is where he should be. Here are some tips to help you make a smooth transition:

  • Kennel training (next section)
  • As soon as your pet wakes up, its outside he goes
  • When pooch is outside pay no attention to him until he goes potty…then party!!!
  • 15 min after eating or drinking go outside

Kennel training

This is single handedly the best thing you can train your dog how to do and be comfortable with. The kennel becomes your animals bedroom, their safe-haven and their own piece of your home. If trained correctly their kennel will be an extremely positive place for them to be.

  1. Begin by feeding your dog in his kennel(do not close the door just yet)
  2. Say “Kennel” as you open the door and place the food in the kennel so your pet recognizes the action and behavior together.
  3. When Fido goes in easily this way, start opening the kennel door and saying “kennel” wait for your pooch to go in THEN place his bowl inside. Now you are rewarding a behavior instead of luring the behavior.
  4. Once your pet is comfortable to go right in for his meals without any coaxing, you can begin closing the door. At this step only ask your pooch to stay in long enough to eat and then be released.
  5. Once poochy is eating in his kennel relaxed you can move on to kenneling for short amounts of time while you are home. In starting this step you are going to switch his meal with a really cool toy that he has never seen before like : a bone with a light smear of peanut butter on it, a kong filled with cheerios, maybe an antler. You want to keep the kennel an interesting place, so by rotating what toys go in the kennel and keeping those separate from his everyday toys they keep their novelty. This usually goes one of two ways A-Fido is ok with being kenneled, remains quiet (a little anxiety is ok)

Fido loses his mind and becomes extremely stressed and vocal.

A: If he does well in his kennel with the door closed and you stepping out then you are getting an easy rideJ Extend the time away from him by small time increments. Two minutes the first time, then ten, then twenty. By the time you hit twenty you are doing great.

B: If your pet has anxiety in his kennel this is very common and no need to panic, you will just train in another way.  You are going to kennel when you have time to ignore some bad behavior and barking. You will really want to leave but timing is important. Kennel your pet and leave the room. Sometimes it takes a couple hours, but wait until your pet is quiet for 10 minutes. By waiting this long, your pooch will have had enough time to calm down, relax and realize that it is not so bad. You may have to do this a couple times and that includes night-time. Sometimes placing a heavy blanket over the kennel, completely covering it, helps sooth them. If you are a parent who is familiar with “crying it out” and “self soothing” then you’ll be a pro. It is terrible at first but it takes about a week to train this and it saves you and your pets relationship ten fold later on.

Some of the perks of kenneling include:

  • Helping with potty training
  • Reducing anxiety
  • Saving your home from a puppy when you’re away
  • Reducing stress when they are kenneled in a boarding facility
  • Reducing stress when they are kept at a veterinary hospital
  • Keeping your pet safe when you have guests and the door is open

Introducing Benji to your other pets

Woo hoo for bringing home a buddy to your current pooch!  There are a lot of ways to introduce your new pet to your current pets, but this is the least intimidating and safest way to introduce two dogs. All you need is two people, two dogs and some time for a walk around the block!

  1. Put buckle collars/harnesses on both dogs
  2. With one dog per person begin walking them just far enough away not to reach each other.
  3. While you are walking, if they are doing well, begin walking closer together
  4. Continue walking closer together until you are side by side and the pets can interact freely while walking.

By walking them and introducing them at the same time you are making the entire experience a positive one.  They are getting out of the house, seeing new sights, smelling new smells and moving! Once you get home walk them into the back yard and release them at the same time. If there is any tension then just keep them moving and get excited. If someone is antagonizing, then get onto them with a firm voice whenever you see them tense up or tower over the other pooch.

Head over to Sandy McPadden's website to answer all of your new pet questions. She is Arizona's ONLY certified dog behavior consultant and is the best resource for any pet owner.