Bringing Home A New Dog

New Dog:  What You Need to Know About Bringing Home a New Dog

You have a New Dog!   Congratulations.

As a new rescue adopter, you have heard how what a rewarding experience it can be!    It’s important to keep some basic training thoughts in mind when you bring him home.  These dogs are not perfect – no dog is.  Some dogs will be effortless to fit in your family, while others may be more of a challenge.

A good foster program not only provides love, shelter and medical care for a rescued dog, the foster will have provided some basic training, a healthy home environment, and some fundamental training & boundaries.  The foster parent will do a thorough transition discussion with you regarding the dog.  The application process should help in making a good match between you & the dog.

It’s your job now to become the leader.  You will need to continue training, boundaries and discipline for the life of this dog.   If you have adopted from a shelter, your dog may have had no training at all.

The things you do beginning Day 1, will create the foundation for success.  You have to create the bond of trust, respect and leadership (this is not about dominance).  If new issues begin to arise, the sooner you address them the better.  If you are uncertain about a behavior – please get help.

We all want to love these rescues and give them a better life.  But that does not mean spoiling them rotten or letting them get away with everything because they have never been loved.   You will show your love for them more if you create boundaries and discipline along with lots of TLC.  As a new adopter, there are some things you can do to influence success.

Be patient and realize training and evaluations take time & effort. Puppies can more quickly overcome poor manners, but an adult dog might actually take many months of training, reconditioning & positive reinforcement to master these skills, and much of the success will depend on you as the handler and the environment you create.  Every positive experience you create for them today, and every negative one you prevent helps set them up for success.


Some *Suggestions* from The K9 Coach Include:

  1. Introduce them to your pack slowly one at a time and on neutral turf such as the front yard with everyone on leash. Don't just open the front door or the fence gate and let the go. This may take you a few days to manage introductions & have safe boundaries for everyone to sniff and smell before they greet directly.

  1. Take time each day to do some basic training. 10 - 15 minutes three times a day goes a long way. Work with a leash and lots of treats on Sit, Come, Heel and Wait (for doors, food etc). Down is much harder and often stressful for the dog, so get the others mastered first even if it takes you several weeks to master them one at a time. A dog with trust issues or fear may be much harder to teach -- so go slower with these dogs.

  1. Watch for and learn the signals the dog is giving you -- and he will in most cases give you an indication of his stress, fear, or attitude. Knowing those signals can help you solve many problems before they escalate. And remember, not all indicators are bad. In fact, it's better to be warned, than not be warned at all and a fight or bite occurs.

  1. Consider some quite time each day in their crate/x-pen, with time to come out and play/train with you. Play can be training too. Have time that your own dogs are out with you alone without the new foster/adoptee. Just take it slow and give everyone some time and attention to acclimate.

  1. Always be careful reaching for their collar as a correction, or to move them from the couch (which he shouldn't be on yet anyway). Consider a leash vs direct hand to collar corrections until you are confident in his behavior. Remember – when he gives you the behavior you do want – give a small treat and lots praise. It is highly recommended that every home have a slip-lead for easy & quick leashing of your dog.

  1. It is as important to train children (and some adults) about respecting the dog, his personal space, his resources (toys & food), his size, etc as it is for you to train the dog about respecting the kids. Visitors may not be as savvy as your own family, so never leave them unsupervised. If necessary, put the Dane in his crate during play-dates.

  1. Don't let them on the furniture right away. They may begin to guard it and you. Give them a nice cozy, safe place of their own. If they are guarding you or the kids, from others – a sharp correction, and temporary removal from the presence of the person or thing he’s guarding is a good start.

  1. Begin early teaching that food from the table or during meal preparation is not going to happen. It just reinforces counter surfing and begging. Send them to their "place" or crate during meal times. Once they are more trustworthy, begin setting boundaries to keep them out of the kitchen or dining room during meal time. This may also mean the kids can't eat on the coffee table, unless he's very well trained to stay in place while they eat.

  1. Avoid resource guarding -- teach them to wait for their food, and do some hand-feeding. If you feel comfortable, see if you can remove the bowl and give them something of greater value while you do so. He's not going to understand if you just take his bowl mid-meal.

  1. Work on the "leave it" command, by asking them to give up some toy or bone by giving them a much greater value treat or toy, then giving the object back. They need to learn that it's ok to give up something they like when you ask. It just might be your shoe or your kids favorite toy.

  1. Don't entertain guests or take them on outings for the first 2-3 weeks. We know you want to show them off, but you need to bond, and gain some experience with the new pack member. When you do take them out or have people over -- do not leave them unsupervised. Manage their environment, the energy present, and the greetings by others (human and dogs, and especially kids). If any indications of fear are present, give him some space & distance from the greeter. Teach your guests and your family to respect boundaries with the new dog.

  1. When you finally do have guest over – ask them to give your dog a treat or two. Even if it’s to gently toss the treat in his direction. Do this every time they come over (for a few months) – it teaches them visitors mean I get some yummy treats! You may need to have him crated for the first few visits, sit quietly by the door, on a “place” in the living room away from the door, before they enter, etc. The foster can tell you what has worked for them in their home.

Dana Brigman