Decompress For Less Stress
There's no better feeling, for fur-kid parents, than the excitement of bringing home that new baby! Whether a puppy or a mature/senior pooch from a rescue or shelter, it's critically important to let good judgement reign over the emotions of the moment when we're preparing for that new addition. Each pooch, in their own way, needs time and "space" to acclimatize to their new surroundings but, the amount of time is always just a guideline. Being sensitive to the situation, intuitive to the needs of the pup, and informed in the ways to approach, what I call the "probationary" period, will often make or break the entire training process.
Over the years, I have become a staunch advocate of what is called "Belt-Loop Training". Bonding with your new pooch is such an important first step in a relationship that will last many years and creating a firm understanding between parent and pooch provides a great foundation in the teaching/learning process.
The need of a pup to decompress (a return to a normal, more relaxed state after a period of intense stress, psychological pressure, or urgent activity) is the first step in integration into the family. If a shelter was the last stop for your new baby, there are factors you should keep in mind. Over-stimulation from too many people, dogs, noises, and other "scary" sounds and activities have the pup worked up to a heightened sense of fear and stress.
One common rule of thumb is the THREE-THREE-THREE factor. We're all anxious for the new member to instantly function within the fabric of our family life, but that certainly will not be the case. An abundance of patience will be required for positive results to occur.
Imagine walking into a family home in the middle of Abu Dhabi. Would you know how to act, how to converse, how to fit in? Just as you would need time to assess your new surroundings, your new fur-kid needs time to understand where they are, who they're with, and what's expected of them. Depending on past experiences, an immense range of emotions will be triggered. Refusing to eat or drink, withdrawing and shutting down in a corner, crate, or under a table, barking, whining, drooling, pacing are all common when a pup is introduced to its new surroundings. No matter how hard it may be, REFRAIN from submitting your new baby to visitors and other strange people for a while and LIMIT and SUPERVISE the time and ways children may play with him/her.
To begin with, attach a 6 foot leash to your belt-loop and your pooch.
For the first three days, AT LEAST, you should introduce the pooch's own safe space to them and go there and spend time there with them often. Set up a crate with a comfy pillow/bed inside and a blanket or towel over top in a quiet space where they can go for "down time". Most dogs actually LOVE having a crate where they feel safe! (I cover more on crate training in a chapter of my e-book Belt-Loop Boot Camp 101.) Start out by restricting the pup to a small, designated area of the house to allow time for him/her to take in all the foreign smells, sounds, and surroundings. These first few days should be quiet and low key. But, whenever the pup is not in the crate, the two of you should be attached by the leash wherever you go. Belt-Loop Training will also help accelerate potty training. In terms of achieving successful potty training, your pooch should be supervised each and every time they go outside! Limit the area used for potty times and always go out with the leash attached! (Potty training is another topic I cover in Belt-Loop Boot Camp 101.)
The first few days should be quiet and low key.
After Three Weeks
As the comfort level -of all family members- increases, you'll notice your pup begin to relax a little. This is definitely NOT the time to relax your training, however! You should still be using the Belt-Loop leash as much as possible, depending on the age of your pup (again, more detail is outlined in a separate article). As the pooch is becoming more accustomed to the routines of the home (and routines are KEY to training!), it is your opportunity to reinforce all of the positive behaviours you desire and expect. Potty training, meal times, play times, lounging times, bed times are all contingent upon how you manage this critical window of time in terms of embedding good habits.
By now, you should have created the beginning of a solid bond with your fur-kid. Over the past few weeks, as you've begun to relax the Belt-Loop training, giving your pooch more freedom and more independence throughout the house, you'll notice that he/she will be more relaxed and happy.
One Last Thing
If you feel you need assistance, look for it! Success as a pet parent is only achieved when you're willing to commit to routines and diligent training. If you feel you lack the skill or are facing unwanted behaviours, swift intervention and professional training will increase your confidence and ensure the successful training of a well-adjusted and happy fur-kid.
While this is a brief summary of some of the critical ways we need to prepare for the homecoming of a new pup, a more detailed and comprehensive training plan is covered in my upcoming e-book, Belt-Loop Bootcamp 101.