You and Your New Dog - Starting Out Right - By Jean Donaldson Certified Behaviorist
Saturday, January 30, 2010 : 12:29:52 PM Updated Thursday, August 18, 2011 : 10:14:25 AM
·Water bowl, food bowl or Kongs / food balls (highly recommended by our trainers)
·Treats for training
·Toys (chew bones, chew toys)
·Bed (dog bed, blanket or towels)
·Crate and/or baby gates
Put all these must-have supplies in your new dog’s confinement area (see below).
Set up a confinement area, a place your dog will stay when you can’t provide 100 supervision; in other
words, when you’re out, or busy around the house, and can’t watch him the entire time. The ideal confinement
area should be easy to clean and easy to close off with a door or baby gate. It should be mostly free of
furniture and non-dog related objects (remember, everything is a potential chew toy to a dog!). The best
place for a confinement area is the kitchen, laundry room, porch, empty spare room or small indoor/outdoor
Furnish the confinement area with a bed or a crate with something soft to sleep on, a water bowl and several
toys, including a favorite bone or chew toy. Note: The confinement area should be the only place your dog
gets to have his favorite toy.
You might think the word “confinement” has a negative connotation, but your dog’s confinement area is not a
negative thing. It’s positive. The confinement area is a place your dog can call his own as he makes the
transition to his new home. It’s where he gets good things, like meals and his favorite toy. It sets him up for
success in the process of housetraining and alone-time training.
People often give a new dog complete freedom right away. Then, when he has an accident or chews the wrong
thing, they confine him, and confinement becomes punishment. If you start out giving your dog the run of the
house, you’re setting him up for failure. Better to give him a safe, confined place, so he can make a gradual
and successful transition to his new home.
If you’re unsure of where to set up your dog’s confinement area, please ask a trainer or adoption staff
member for suggestions.
· When you arrive at home, take your dog out for a walk or bathroom break.
· Introduce him on leash to his new home, including his confinement area.
· Give your dog a chew bone or a stuffed Kong and leave him alone in the confinement area for
approximately 5 minutes.
· If your dog begins to howl, whine, or bark, wait until he has been quiet for at least ten seconds before
you respond. Otherwise, your dog will learn that whining or barking makes you appear or gets him out of
the confinement area, and he’ll bark or cry for longer periods of time.
You must get your dog used to short absences starting within the first few hours his arrival.
This is extremely important. You’ll want to spend every minute with your dog when he first comes home, but
you should prepare him right away for a normal routine. He must learn to be relaxed, calm and settled when
he’s alone. Alone-time training is necessary because dogs are highly social animals and being alone doesn’t
come naturally to them.
Leave your dog alone in his confinement area while you go out or spend time in another part of the house.
Vary the length of your absences, from 30 seconds to 20 minutes, and repeat them throughout the day. If
your dog seems comfortable, you can increase the amount of time he’s left alone.
Remember, it may take several days or weeks for your dog to make the transition to his new home.
Put a chew toy in your dog’s crate or sleeping area when you leave him for the night. He may have trouble
settling in at first, but he should eventually relax and go to sleep. Remember, it’s important not to let your
dog out of his confinement area if he’s crying or barking. If he gets attention for barking, he’ll keep it up
for long periods of time.
Some adult dogs are not housetrained. If your dog has an accident, it’s not because he’s incapable or
unintelligent, it’s because he has not been properly trained. To successfully housetrain your dog, you need to
treat him like an 8-week-old pup. The confinement area is your key to success.
· Until your dog is perfectly housetrained, never leave him alone unless he’s in his confinement area.
He must be 100 supervised when he’s outside his confinement area.
· Take your dog out on leash frequently. Start by walking him at half-hour intervals.
· If you see your dog sniffing and circling in the house, take him out immediately.
· Praise and reward him with a treat (cookie) when he relieves himself outdoors.
· Never yell or punish your dog for a potty accident in the house.
See our “Housetraining” handout for detailed instructions.
· Dogs need both physical exercise and mental stimulation. Remember: A tired dog is a happy dog!
· A good exercise program will make your dog a more relaxed and enjoyable companion.
· Depending on your dog’s energy level, he will benefit greatly from daily aerobic exercise. Off-leash romps
in secured areas, running or jogging, interactive games such as fetch or tug, all help burn energy and keep
your dog from getting bored and frustrated. (Don’t let your dog off leash in unsecured areas, and make
sure he wears an ID tag.)
· Daily obedience training and food “puzzle” toys provide your dog with mental stimulation.
· Dog training classes help burn off mental and physical energy. They also provide an opportunity to
practice off-leash recalls. Training classes are
fun for dogs and people alike.
A crate is a valuable tool for a new adopter. Like a confinement area, a crate eases the process of
housetraining, chew training and alone-time training. It helps your dog make the transition to his new home.
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