By Jenny Anderson
Most of us could use a refresher when it comes to bringing home a new dog and training it. This is especially true with puppies. It takes some planning to properly deal with puppies. And there are some helpful tools involved, too. A few indispensible items include: a well-fitting collar and harness/leash, appropriate chew toys, high value treats, and a suitable kennel. Some fencing or “barricades” can also be helpful when containing a dog in a specific area. Until a dog is housetrained, it makes sense to restrict whole-house access. This saves lots of time in cleanup!
Socialization involves teaching our dog the world is a safe and happy place. In order to accomplish this, we must control the environment as much as possible. It means taking the puppy or adult dog out to lots of different places and exposing it to a variety of people, other dogs, sights, sounds, surfaces. The trick is making sure she’s having a good time and enjoying the experience. It also means avoiding crowded places, loud parties, or other uncontrolled situations.
Animals can always observe from a distance when the experience produces fear; and once the animal feels secure enough to join-in, you can bring it closer. All dogs should obviously be leashed for their own safety, unless it’s a secure designated off-leash area. This is especially true in our region, where coyotes roam throughout the town.
Dogs will develop a preference for certain things they enjoy for chewing; therefore, it’s up to us to manage the pup’s environment, so it doesn’t choose inappropriate things (shoes, rugs, etc) for chewing.
A baby gate, tether or exercise pen is helpful in making sure she only has access to “legal” chew objects. Have a variety of these objects available, and do not allow house freedom too quickly.
A dog should not be left in isolation. When bringing a new dog into your home, plan on spending several days (or more) helping ease the transition to your household. Gradually ease a dog into “aloneness”, and never just force a dog into being kenneled for long periods. The dog wants to be in the company of others most of the time. We can avoid isolation or separation anxiety when we spend time with and play with animals before leaving them alone. When it is tired, place it in a kennel and provide a yummy chew, and sit nearby working on your computer or reading. Slowly increase time and distance from the dog until she can relax on her own. This can take a long time, so be patient.
Probably one of the most challenging tasks is housetraining a dog to eliminate in the appropriate place. Some animals are picky about what surface they will use. Most develop “substrate preferences”, so if possible, expose your dog to various surfaces (sand, grass, gravel, etc). This can take time and involves the most patience of all. I have found developing a regular potty routine very helpful. Dogs often need to eliminate shortly after eating or a busy play session. We make a point to go outside frequently (hourly) with our dog to make sure the dog does her get “business” done! As a dog learns the routine, the length of time can be extended. You can also train a dog to use a pee pad or litter box. Some people have great success with these, and if you travel frequently or the weather is bad, this is a nice option to have available.
Scolding or reacting badly is not helpful. That will just intimidate the dog and possibly result in more accidents. A simple, “Oops! Outside!” and escorting the dog to finish in the appropriate place will work better. Positive reinforcement works wonders---praise, treats, and some playtime together following elimination work really well.
The Western Arizona Humane Society is open Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., with kennel hours 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Call 855-5083 for details. To find lost pets, call 855-4111. View animals found at www.lhcpd.com.