About Adopting

Ask the Trainer: What Do I Need For A Newly Adopted Dog?

Happy Pit Bull Mix

“Hi Steve, I am adopting a 3 year old dog from my local shelter.  I want to make sure I am prepared with everything I will need.  What should I have ready for my dog’s arrival?”  Susan G.

Hi Susan,

First off, I want to thank you and commend you for choosing to adopt!  I am a huge proponent of adopting, and I think you made a terrific choice in adopting a dog that is 6+ months old. By doing this, you are able to avoid many puppy training headaches: housebreaking, constant chewing/biting, crate training, etc.  

In addition, most dogs are calmer and have a lower energy level when they are past puppyhood. You can usually better assess a dog’s disposition at these ages, as you never know what kind of adult dog a puppy may grow into.

Even if you have had your dog for years, you and your dog will benefit from this article.

Remember, dogs don’t know how to properly and safely navigate your home and the constructs of our human world. Therefore, we need to be proactive in clearly and consistently teaching them from the very start. These 6 tools will help you to do that:

Dog Food:  The food you feed your dog impacts their health, energy level, skin/coat, longevity, and ability to learn. That’s why I only use a high quality premium food.  One that is free of grains, common allergens (corn, wheat, soy) and has not been associated with any recent dog food recalls. I personally only use this for all dog food and treats, here’s why.

Crate:  A properly sized crate is essential for so many reasons.  It aids with housebreaking, keeps your dog safe when you are not there to supervise, and provides a safe “den-like” place for your dog to comfortably reside.  Especially when first acclimating to a new home, dogs will seek a safe haven of their own to relax.  

Many people think a crate is used as punishment and their dog will view it as such. That is simply NOT true. As long as you properly crate train and make it a positive association, your dog will thank you for it. Learn about my Structured Crate Protocol, this is something I do with all dogs from day one.

Water Bowl:  Enough said.

Leash for Walking: Skip the nylon leashes, rope leashes, and especially flexi or retractable leashes. Simply buy a 6ft. leather leash. It will last you years of reliable usage, has a nice grip, easy to handle, and does not chew up your hands with a dog who pulls.

Long Line:  I firmly believe that until a dog is taught to reliably “Come” when called, they should NOT be left off-leash. Therefore, I always tell owners to have their dog on a 20ft. long line when outside in the yard. This provides owners positive control, so they can help keep their dog safe and reinforce all commands. One of the greatest mistakes owners make, is letting their dog off-leash too soon. As a result, dogs learn they can ignore when their owners tell them to “Come”.  

Avoid this training pitfall by having your dog on a long line and implementing these Important Considerations for a Solid Recall.  NOTE:  For safety reasons, dogs should never be left unsupervised when on-leash, as they can become entangled or chew/consume the leash. Always supervise your dog when they are on-leash.

Drag Line:  Once again, a leash provides owners positive control in order to help teach and communicate to their dog. This is why I recommend to all my clients, that they have their dog wear a short 2-3ft. drag line (short leash) when supervised in the home. This is NOT to be left on a dog when they are unsupervised or when in the crate, as they can become entangled or consume the leash.  

As stated above with the long line, this small leash will provide you a means of clearly and consistently communicating to your dog what not to do in the home. You can more easily diffuse your dog’s jumping, chewing, barking, etc. by having the ability to communicate.

Chew Toys:  Make sure to provide appropriate chew toys for your new dog. Dogs have an inherent need to bite, chew, and navigate life with their mouth. As a result, they will seek to fulfill that need one way or another. So it is better to be proactive in giving dogs chew toys and relieving your dog’s energy.

I prefer to institute a toy rotation in order to maintain the dog’s interest in each toy. The way I do this is only provide the dog one toy at a time. Once they lose interest in that toy, I remove it, put it at the back of the toy rotation, and dispense another toy. The key is to create interest, so you can redirect and engage your dog when it’s time for them to play and stay out of mischief.

My no means is this an exhaustive list, but these are the essentials that I would make sure I have in order to transition a dog into a new home.

Westchester Dog Trainer, Steve Reid of S.R. Dog Training is the premier choice for dog training and puppy training in New York and Connecticut.  Learn more at www.srdogtraining.com and stay up-to-date www.Facebook.com/SRDogTraining.

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