My New Pound Dog (Settling In)

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Pound dogs will often be on their best behaviour for the first two weeks in any new home. In this time they will be learning the house rules, family routine and simply appreciating their new found security. This early stage is called the "Honeymoon Period"

After this time many dogs will start to test the boundaries to see how strong your rules and routines are. Some may challenge you for food or toys. Other dogs bond so closely with their humans that they become more demanding of your attention or over-dependant.

This kind of attention can be quite flattering initially from a human point of view. It's nice to feel needed and know that your dog wants to be with you at all times!  

However, you will soon discover that you can't leave your dog to go out, even for a few minutes. Dogs that become over-dependant on their human companions may howl, bark, become destructive or go to the toilet indoors when left alone. Some will attempt (and in some cases succeed) to escape from the yard. They cannot cope without you and may even have been abandoned by their previous owners because of this problem.

Such problems are, however, preventable.

Follow these steps to ensure your dog is given love, attention and security without becoming over-dependant on you.

Step 1

To avoid your dog becoming 'addicted' to you in the first few weeks, give attention when you decide, not when he demands  it.

Step 2

Don't allow your dog to follow you from room to room. Shut doors between you and him as part of your daily routine. Try not to allow constant contact when you are together. Many dogs will develop 'separation anxiety' if they constantly need to be touched by their owners.

Step 3

Practise trial separations. Encourage your dog to go to his bed or kennel, offer him a toy or raw bone to chew on, then leave. Repeat this for short periods of time each day. This is especially important if you have taken time off work, or bring your new dog home during holidays to help him settle in, as it would be a big shock for your dog to be suddenly left alone when you return to work.

Step 4

When you do leave your dog, ensure they have toys that are fun to play with alone. Most dog toys are only fun if you play as well. Big raw bones (never cooked or chicken bones) can keep them entertained for a while. 'Kongs' or 'Buster Cubes' are interactive dog toys. They become very rewarding for a dog to play with when filled with food as the dog must work out how to get the food out of them. You can keep the novelty value of these toys by only offering them when you are going out.

Step 5

Don't make a big fuss and say goodbye to your dog each time you leave him. He will become excited by the attention only to have it taken away. Try to draw as little attention to your departure as possible.

Also, when you return home, do not greet your dog if he is barking or crying in excitement. Wait until the initial excitement has died down before saying hello. This again will remind him that attention is given when you decide, not on demand.


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