Casper believes he is really a lion. Casper lives in Washington, DC.
A dog’s bark may be worse than his bite, but most of us would rather not find out one way or the other.
Growling, baring teeth, snarling, snapping, and biting are all aggressive behaviors. Although these messages are among the handful of communication tools available to dogs, they’re generally unacceptable to humans.
Because dog aggression is so complex, and because the potential consequences are so serious, we recommend that you get professional in-home help from an animal behavior specialist if your dog is displaying aggressive behavior.
Types of Dog Aggression
Fear-motivated aggression is a defensive reaction and occurs when a dog believes he is in danger of being harmed. Remember that it’s your dog’s perception of the situation, not your actual intent, which determines your dog’s response. For example, you may raise your arm to throw a ball, but your dog may bite you because he believes he’s protecting himself from being hit. A dog may also be fearfully aggressive when approached by other dogs.
Protective, territorial, and possessive aggression are all very similar, and involve the defense of valuable resources. Territorial aggression is usually associated with defense of property, and that “territory” may extend well past the boundaries of your yard. For example, if you regularly walk your dog around the neighborhood and allow him to urine-mark, he may think his territory includes the entire block. Protective aggression usually refers to aggression directed toward people or animals whom a dog perceives as threats to his family, or pack. Dogs become possessively aggressive when defending their food, toys, or other valued objects, including items as peculiar as tissues stolen from the trash.
Redirected aggression is a relatively common type of dog aggression but one that is often misunderstood by pet owners. If a dog is somehow provoked by a person or animal he is unable to attack, he may redirect this aggression onto someone else. For example, two family dogs may become excited, and bark and growl in response to another dog passing through the front yard; or two dogs confined behind a fence may turn and attack each other because they can’t attack an intruder. Predation is usually considered to be a unique kind of aggressive behavior because it’s motivated by the intent to obtain food, and not primarily by the intent to harm or intimidate.
The likelihood of a dog to show aggressive behavior in any particular situation varies markedly from dog to dog. Some dogs tend to respond aggressively with very little stimulation. Others may be subjected to all kinds of threatening stimuli and events and yet never attempt to bite.
The difference in the threshold prompting aggressive behavior is influenced by both environmental and genetic factors. If this threshold is low, a dog will be more likely to bite. Raising the threshold makes a dog less likely to respond aggressively. This threshold can be raised using behavior modification techniques, but the potential for change is influenced by a dog’s gender, age, breed, general temperament, and the way in which the behavior modification techniques are chosen and implemented.
Because working with aggressive dogs can be potentially dangerous, behavior modification techniques should only be attempted by, or under the guidance of, an experienced animal behavior professional who understands animal learning theory and behavior.
What You Can Do
First, check with your veterinarian to rule out medical causes for the aggressive behavior.
Seek professional advice. An aggression problem will not go away by itself. Working with aggression problems requires in-home help from an animal behavior specialist.
Take precautions. Your first priority is to keep people and other animals safe. Supervise, confine, and/or restrict your dog’s activities until you can obtain professional guidance. You are liable for your dog’s behavior. If you must take your dog out in public, consider a cage-type muzzle as a temporary precaution, and remember that some dogs are clever enough to get a muzzle off.
Avoid exposing your dog to situations where he is more likely to show aggression. You may need to keep him confined to a safe room and limit his contact with people.
If your dog is possessive of toys or treats, or territorial in certain locations, prevent access and you’ll prevent the problem.
In an emergency, bribe him with something better than what he has. For example, if he steals your shoe, trade him the shoe for a piece of chicken.
Spay or neuter your dog. Intact dogs are more likely to display dominance, territorial, and protective aggressive behavior.
What Not to Do
Punishment won’t help and, in fact, will often make the problem worse. If the dog aggression is motivated by fear, punishment will make your dog more fearful, and therefore more aggressive. Attempting to punish or dominate a dominantly aggressive dog may actually lead him to escalate his behavior to retain his dominant position. This is likely to result in a bite or a severe attack. Punishing territorial, possessive, or protective aggression is likely to elicit additional defensive aggression.
For dogs, learning to come when called is not only a behavior issue. It’s a safety issue.
For instance, if your dog slips out the front door and races down across the yard, you must be able to get him to stop and come back before he runs into the street.
Bear in mind that the “come” command isn’t always the best option when you want your dog by your side. For instance, if you haven’t fully trained your dog to understand what you want when you say “come,” don’t use that command and expect results. It’s better to go and get him than to say “come” repeatedly.
Keep practicing the “come” command until you are certain your dog will respond immediately the first time you call.
Method 1 for teaching your dog to come: The back up and recall method
You can practice this method in the house or while out on a walk with your dog.
- Put your dog on a leash.
- Hold the other end of the leash, say “come” once, then quickly move backward.
- Keep moving backward until your dog gets all the way to you.
- When your dog catches up to you, say “Yes!”
- Give your dog a treat.
- Training tip: Teach your dog polite leash behavior
- The Back Up and Recall is a good way to teach your dog not to pull on his leash when you take a walk.
- Each time he starts to pull, say “come,” and move backward until your dog gets to you. Say “Yes!” and reward him with a treat.
You may spend much of your first few walks going backward, but it won’t take long for your dog to learn that he must pay attention to where you are going instead of choosing his own path and speed.
Method 2 for teaching your dog to come: The long line
You can also practice “come” outside using a long (20-foot) training leash. The long leash makes it easy to catch your dog if he gets distracted and wants to wander around the yard. For this method, you’ll need the help of another person.
- Attach the long training leash to your dog’s collar.
- Your assistant should stand behind your dog and hold him by lacing her hands across his chest.
- Get your dog’s attention by holding a treat in front of his nose and talking to him in an excited voice.
- Run away a few feet then call your dog to “come.” Encourage him by clapping your hands or making noises but don’t repeat the “come” command.
- When your dog runs to you, say “Yes!”
- Give him a treat.
- As he gets better at “come,” run farther away before you call him.
Training tip: Make it a game for your dog
As your dog learns “come,” practice inside (a leash isn’t necessary) by having your assistant distract or hold your dog while you go out of the room. Call out, “come.”
When he finds you, say “Yes!” and give him a treat. Over time you can make this game more difficult, by moving to more distant rooms of the house before you call “come.”
Much like the miners during the Gold Rush, dogs are territorial animals. They “stake a claim” to a particular space, area, or object by marking it, using a variety of methods at different levels of intensity.
For example, a dog may bark to drive away what he perceives to be intruders in his territory. Some dogs may go to the extreme of urinating or defecating on something to say “mine!.”
Pets Aren’t People
Dogs don’t urinate or defecate out of spite or jealousy. If your dog urinates on your baby’s diaper bag, it’s not because he is jealous of, or dislikes, your baby. The unfamiliar scents and sounds of a new baby in the home are stressing him out a bit and he feels the need to reaffirm his claim on his territory.
Likewise, if your dog urinates on your new boyfriend’s backpack, it doesn’t reflect his opinion of your taste in men. Instead, he has perceived the presence of an “intruder,” and is letting the intruder know this territory belongs to him.
Urine-Marking is Not House Soiling
House soiling is when your dog empties his bladder or his bowels inside the house. There are a few reasons he may do this.
- He’s not housebroken.
- He has a medical issue.
- He’s terrified and has lost control of his bladder and/or bowels.
- Urine-marking, on the other hand, is a territorial behavior. Your dog feels the need to assert his dominance or ease his anxiety by laying out his boundaries. He does this by depositing small amounts of urine on anything he feels belongs to him—the furniture, the walls, your socks, etc.
Urine-marking is most often associated with male dogs, but females may do it, too. Leg-lifting is the primary way of marking, but even if your pet doesn’t lift his leg, he may still be marking.
The amount of urine is small and is found primarily on vertical surfaces, but dogs do sometimes mark on horizontal surfaces.
Reasons for Urine-Marking
- Your dog isn’t spayed or neutered. Unneutered dogs are much more assertive and prone to marking than neutered ones.
- There’s a new pet in the household.
- Another pet in your home is not spayed or neutered. Even spayed or neutered animals may mark in response to other intact animals in the home.
- Your dog has conflicts with other animals in your home. When there’s instability in the pack dynamics, a dog may feel a need to establish his place by marking his territory.
- There’s someone new in the house (spouse, baby, roommate); your dog puts his scent on that person’s belongings as a way of proclaiming that the house is his.
- There are new objects in the environment (a shopping bag, a visitor’s purse) that have unfamiliar smells or another animal’s scent.
- Your dog has contact with other animals outside your home. If your pet sees another animal through a door or window, he may feel a need to mark his territory.
Sooner or later every dog lover returns home to find some unexpected damage inflicted by their or their dog; or, more specifically, that dog’s teeth. Although dogs make great use of their vision and sense of smell to explore the world, one of their favorite ways to take in new information is to put their mouths to work.
Fortunately, chewing can be directed onto appropriate items so your dog isn’t destroying things you value or jeopardizing their own safety.
Until they’ve learned what they can and can’t chew, however, it’s your responsibility to manage the situation as much as possible, so they don’t have the opportunity to chew on unacceptable objects.
Understand Your Dog
Puppies, like infants and toddlers, explore their world by putting objects in their mouths. And, like babies, they teethe for about six months, which usually creates some discomfort. Chewing not only facilitates teething but also makes sore gums feel better.
Adult dogs may engage in destructive chewing for any number of reasons. In order to deal with the behavior, you must first determine why your dog is chewing—and remember, they are not doing it to spite you. Possible reasons for destructive chewing include:
- As a puppy, they weren’t taught what to chew and what not to chew.
- They’re bored.
- They suffer from separation anxiety.
- Their behavior is fear-related.
- They want attention.
Be aware: You may need to consult a behavior professional for help with both separation anxiety and fear-related behaviors.
Teach What to Chew
Take responsibility for your own belongings. If you don’t want it in your dog’s mouth, don’t make it available. Keep clothing, shoes, books, trash, eyeglasses and remote controls out of your dog’s reach.
Give your dog toys that are clearly distinguishable from household goods. Don’t confuse them by offering shoes and socks as toys and then expecting them to distinguish between their shoe and yours.
Supervise your dog until they learn the house rules. Keep them with you on their leash in the house so they can’t make a mistake out of your sight. Confine them when you’re unable to keep an eye on them. Choose a “safe place” that’s dog-proof, and provide fresh water and “safe” toys. If your dog is crate trained, you may also place them in their crate for short periods of time.
Give your dog plenty of people-time. Your dog won’t know how to behave if you don’t teach them alternatives to inappropriate behavior, and they can’t learn these when they are in the yard by themself.
Give your dog plenty of physical and mental exercise. If your dog is bored, they’ll find something to do to amuse themself and you probably won’t like the choices they make. On the other hand, a tired dog is a good dog, so make sure they get lots of physical and mental activity. The amount of exercise should be based on their age, health and breed characteristics.
If you catch your dog chewing on something they shouldn’t, interrupt the behavior with a loud noise. Offer them an acceptable chew toy instead, and praise them lavishly when they take the toy in their mouth.
Build a toy obsession in your dog. Use their toys to feed them. At mealtimes, fill a Kong-type toy with their kibble.
If your puppy is teething, try freezing a wet washcloth for them to chew on. The cold cloth will soothe their gums. Supervise your puppy so they don’t chew and swallow any pieces of the washcloth.
Make items unpleasant to your dog. Furniture and other items can be coated with a taste deterrent (such as Bitter Apple®) to make them unappealing.
Caution: Supervise your dog when you first try one of these deterrents. Some dogs will chew an object even if it’s coated with a taste deterrent. Also be aware that you must reapply some of these deterrents to maintain their effectiveness.
Offer your dog a treat in exchange for the item in their mouth. As your dog catches on to this idea, you can add the command “Give” as their cue to release the object in exchange for the yummy treat.
Don’t chase your dog if they grab an object and run. If you chase them, you are only giving your dog what they want. Being chased by their human is fun! Instead call them to you or offer them a treat.
Have realistic expectations. At some point your dog will inevitably chew up something you value; this is often part of the transition to a new home. Your dog needs time to learn the house rules and you need to remember to take precautions and keep things out of their reach.
Take Care With Punishment
If you discover a chewed item even minutes after they’ve chewed it, you’re too late.
Animals associate punishment with what they’re doing at the time they’re being corrected. Your dog can’t reason that, “I tore up those shoes an hour ago and that’s why I’m being scolded now.” Some people believe this is what a dog is thinking because they run and hide or because they “looks guilty.”
In reality, “guilty looks” are actually canine submissive postures that dogs show when they’re threatened. When you’re angry and upset, your dog feels threatened by your tone of voice, body postures and/or facial expressions, so they may hide or show submissive postures. Punishment after the fact will not only fail to eliminate the undesirable behavior, but it could also provoke other undesirable behaviors.
Has your dog turned your yard into a moonscape with craters everywhere? If so, the first thing you should know is that your dog isn’t doing this out of spite or a desire to destroy your landscaping.
Dogs may dig for entertainment when they learn that roots and soil “play back.” Your dog may be digging for entertainment if:
- They’re left alone in the yard for long periods of time without the company of their human family.
- Their environment is relatively barren—with no playmates or toys.
- They’re a puppy or adolescent and don’t have other outlet for their energy.
- They’re a terrier or other breed that was bred to dig.
- They’re an active breed who needs a job to be happy.
- They’re recently seen you gardening or working in the yard.
What to Do
Expand your dog’s world and increase their people time in the following ways:
- Walk your dog at least twice daily. Lack of exercise is a leading cause of problem behaviors.
- Play with them using active toys (balls, flying disks) as often as possible.
- Teach your dog a few commands or tricks. Practice these every day for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Take a training class with your dog and practice what you learn daily.
- Keep interesting toys in the yard to keep your dog busy when you’re not around. Kong®-type toys filled with treats or busy-box dog toys work especially well. Rotate the toys to keep things interesting.
Dogs often dig in an effort to catch burrowing animals or insects who live in your yard. This may be the case if the digging is:
- Focused on a single area rather than the boundaries of the yard.
- At the roots of trees or shrubs.
- In a “path” layout.
What to Do
Search for signs of burrowing animals, then use safe, humane methods to fence them out, exclude them or make your yard or garden unattractive to them.
What Not to Do
Don’t use any product or method that could be toxic or dangerous to your pets or other animals. Anything that poisons wildlife can poison your dog, too.
Comfort and Protection
In hot weather, dogs may dig holes to lie in the cool dirt. They may also dig to provide themselves with shelter from cold, wind or rain or to find water. Your dog may be digging for comfort or protection if:
- The holes are near the foundations of buildings, large shade trees or a water source.
- Your dog doesn’t have a shelter or their shelter is too hot or cold.
- Your dog lies in the holes they dig.
What to Do
Provide your dog with the comfort or protection they seek. Bring them inside more often, and make sure their outdoors shelter is comfortable, protected against heat and cold, and has access to water in an untippable bowl. If your dog is still a dedicated digger, try setting aside a digging zone »
Any behavior can become attention-getting behavior if the dog learns that they receive attention for engaging in it. Remember, even punishment is attention. Your dog may be looking for attention if they dig in your presence or have limited opportunities for interaction with you.
What to Do
Ignore attention-seeking behavior and give your pooch lots of praise for “good dog” behavior. Also, make sure your dog has enough walk and play time with you on a daily basis.
Dogs may try to escape to get to something, to get somewhere or to get away from something. Your dog may be digging to escape if they dig under or along a fence.
What to Do
Figure out why your dog is trying to escape and remove those incentives. Make sure their environment is a safe, appealing place for a dog.
To keep your dog in your yard:
- Bury chicken wire at the base of the fence. Be sure to roll the sharp edges away from your yard.
- Place large rocks, partially buried, along the bottom of the fence line.
- Bury the bottom of the fence 1 to 2 feet below the surface.
- Place chain-link fencing on the ground (anchored to the bottom of the fence) to make it uncomfortable for your dog to walk near the fence.
- Work with your dog on behavior modification to stop them escape efforts.
What Doesn’t Work
Regardless of the reason your dog is digging, don’t:
- Punish your dog after the fact. This won’t address the cause of the behavior, and it will worsen any digging that’s motivated by fear or anxiety.
- Stake out your dog near a hole they’ve dug or fill the hole with water.
- Punishing your dog after the fact never works!
Next steps: A Digging Zone
If your dog is a dedicated digger, set aside an area of the yard where it’s OK for them to dig, and teach them where that digging zone is:
- Cover the digging zone with loose soil or sand. Or use a child-size sandbox.
- Make the digging zone attractive by burying safe items (such as toys) for them to discover.
- When they dig in the digging zone, reward them with praise.
- If you catch your dog digging in an unacceptable area, interrupt the behavior with a loud noise and firmly say, “No dig.” Then immediately take them to the digging zone.
- Make the unacceptable digging spots unattractive (at least temporarily) by placing rocks or chicken wire over them.
- If you’ve tried all these strategies and still can’t solve your dog’s digging problem, keep them indoors with you and supervise them during bathroom breaks in the yard. You may also want to consult a behavior professional for additional help.
What Is Kennel Cough?
Kennel Cough (also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis) is a highly contagious respiratory disease. Dogs commonly contract kennel cough at places where large amounts of canines congregate, such as boarding and daycare facilities, dog parks, training groups, and dog shows. Dogs can spread it to one another through airborne droplets, direct contact (e.g., touching noses), or contaminated surfaces (including water/food bowls). It’s highly treatable in most dogs but can be more severe in puppies younger than six months of age and immunocompromised dogs.
What are the Symptoms of Kennel Cough?
If your dog is affected with kennel cough, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- a strong cough, often with a “honking” sound – this is the most obvious symptom
- runny nose
- loss of appetite
- low fever
Although kennel cough is easily treatable in healthy dogs, it’s important to report a coughing symptom to your veterinarian because it could be a sign of a more serious disease.
The canine distemper virus and canine influenza virus both start off with symptoms nearly identical to kennel cough,” he said. Other conditions that can cause coughing include a collapsing trachea, bronchitis, asthma, and even heart disease.
How Is Kennel Cough Treated?
Typically, mild cases of kennel cough are treated with a week or two of rest, but a veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to prevent a secondary infection and cough medication to ease the symptoms.
Nebulizers and vaporizers utilizing inhaled antibiotics or bronchodilators have been reported to be beneficial but are usually not prescribed. Speak to your veterinarian for treatment recommendations. Also, it’s important that owners use a harness rather than a collar to walk a dog with kennel cough because irritation of the tracheal can aggravate the cough and possibly even cause damage to the trachea. If you have a household with multiple pets, it may be useful to separate them as much as possible or at least to separate their water and food bowls to prevent the sick dog from infecting the other animals. Humans cannot catch kennel cough.
Can Kennel Cough Be Prevented?
A vaccine is available for the bordetella bacterium, which is the most common agent to cause kennel cough. Dogs who are frequently boarded, visit doggie day care, compete in canine sports, or otherwise are exposed to large groups of dogs may benefit from the vaccine, and many training, boarding, and daycare facilities require proof of vaccination. The vaccine is available in oral, intranasal, and injectable forms, and depending on the form, it is usually initially given in two doses two to four weeks apart, followed by a booster every six months to a year.
Although most cases of kennel cough are caused by bordetella, some are caused by other agents, including the bacteria bordetella bronchiseptica, canine adenovirus type 2, canine parainfluenza virus, canine respiratory coronavirus, and mycoplasmas, so the vaccine may not prevent your dog from catching the disease.
If you notice your pet coughing or if you plan to introduce your dog to large groups of animals, speak with your veterinarian.
Keep an open mind when adopting, and you’ll find the dog (or dogs) that will fit your needs and lifestyle.
The best thing about adopting a dog from an animal shelter or rescue group? So many amazing pooches to choose from! Man’s best friends come in all shapes, sizes and—of course—personalities.
While almost any shelter dog can make a wonderful, lifelong companion for you and your family, some dogs will need more training, some will need more exercise and some will be happy to just sit on your lap staring into your eyes, trying to hypnotize you into providing more kibble.
Which kind of dog are you looking for?
You may have an image of your perfect dog in mind, but is your heart open to a canine Mr. Right you weren’t quite expecting? Browse adoptable dogs near you at The Shelter Pet Project, and consider the following questions:
What’s your lifestyle?
If you live alone in a small, third-floor apartment, for instance, adopting a large, active retriever-mix might not be the best choice … but then, if you’re a runner and want a partner for your jogs, or you have a large family of kids who will play with the dog all the time, it could be fine! A dog’s size, exercise requirements, friendliness, assertiveness and compatibility with children should all figure into your decision.
Remember, you’re not just getting a dog; your new dog is getting a family!
Purebred or magical mix?
How do you find out which dogs have the qualities you’re looking for? Information is the key: learn about the personalities of various breeds, visit with animals at the shelter and speak with an adoption counselor for guidance.
Dogs fall into one of two categories: purebreds or mixed breeds. Most animal shelters have plenty of both. The only significant difference between the two is that purebreds, because their parents and other ancestors are all members of the same breed, are similar to a specific “breed standard.” This doesn’t always tell you much about a dog’s good health or how she’ll behave, but it will help give you an idea of how big she’s likely to get and whether her ears will be adorably droopy or sharp and perky (and other such physical traits). With mixes, you’ll get a unique, never-seen-before blend.
More About Mixed Breeds
Of course, the size, appearance and temperament of most mixed breed dogs can be predicted as well. After all, mixed breeds are simply combinations of different breeds. So if you know the ancestry of a particular mixed-breed puppy or can identify what type of dog he is (e.g., terrier mix), you have a good chance of knowing how he’ll turn out, too.
Mixed breeds are also more likely to be free of genetic defects common to certain purebred dogs because of overbreeding.
Visit with Shelter Animals
While you’re at the shelter, keep in mind that the animals there will be stressed out; quite often, a dog’s true colors won’t show until he’s away from other animals and the shelter environment. So even if you walk past a kennel with a dog who isn’t vying for your attention, don’t count him out. He may just be a little scared or lonely.
An adoption counselor can help you select canines who will match your lifestyle. When you spend time with each animal, consider the following questions:
How old is the dog?
You may be thinking about getting a puppy, but young dogs usually require much more training and supervision. If you lack the time or patience to housetrain your pup or to correct problems like chewing and jumping, an adult dog may be a better choice.
How shy or assertive is the dog?
Although an active, bouncy dog might catch your eye, a quieter pooch might be a better match if you just want a TV and hanging-out buddy.
Is the animal good with kids?
Ask questions of the adoptions counselors, but remember, not all shelter dogs will have a known history. In general, a friendly dog who likes to be touched and is not sensitive to handling and noise is a dog who will probably thrive in a house full of kids. If you get a puppy for your kids, remember that baby animals can be fragile and that, regardless of the dog’s age or breed, you’ll want to supervise his interactions with kids.
Choose a Pal for Life
Shelter animals deserve lifelong homes. If you’re looking for your perfect pal, check out The Shelter Pet Project’s website, which can help you with your search. After all, you’re choosing a pal likely to be with you 10 to 15 years—or even longer. There’s a dog out there who will love being part of your family!
You mark your stuff by putting your name on it; your dog marks their with urine. We’ve covered why dogs mark territory, now here’s how to prevent urine-marking behaviors before they happen in your house.
Before doing anything else, take your dog to the veterinarian to rule out any medical causes for the urine-marking behavior. If they get a clean bill of health, use the following tips to make sure they don’t start marking their territory.
Spay or neuter your dog as soon as possible. The longer a dog goes before neutering, the more difficult it will be to train them not to mark in the house. Spaying or neutering your dog should reduce urine-marking and may stop it altogether.
But if they have been marking for a long time, a pattern may already be established. Because it has become a learned behavior, spaying or neutering alone won’t solve the problem. Use techniques for housetraining an adult dog to modify your dog’s marking behavior.
- Clean soiled areas thoroughly with a cleaner specifically designed to eliminate urine odor. Read more about removing pet odors and stains.
- Make previously soiled areas inaccessible or unattractive.If this isn’t possible, try to change the significance of those areas to your pet. Feed, treat, and play with your pet in the areas where they mark.
- Keep objects likely to cause marking out of reach.Items such as guests’ belongings and new purchases should be placed in a closet or cabinet.
- Resolve conflicts between animals in your home. If you’ve added a new cat or new dog to your family, follow our tip sheets to help them live in harmony.
- Restrict your dog’s access to doors and windowsso they can’t observe animals outside. If this isn’t possible, discourage the presence of other animals near your house.
- Make friends.If your pet is marking in response to a new resident in your home (such as a roommate or spouse), have the new resident make friends with your pet by feeding, grooming, and playing with your pet. If you have a new baby, make sure good things happen to your pet when the baby is around.
- Watch your dog when they are indoorsfor signs that they are thinking about urinating. When they begin to urinate, interrupt them with a loud noise and take them outside. If they urinate outside, praise them and give them a treat.
- When you’re unable to watch them, confine your dog (a crateor small room where they ha never marked) or tether them to you with a leash.
- Have your dog obey at least one command(such as “sit”) before you give them dinner, put on their leash to go for a walk, or throw them a toy.
- If your dog is marking out of anxiety, talk to your vet about medicating them with a short course of anti-anxiety medication. This will calm them down and make behavior modification more effective.
- Consult an animal behaviorist for help with resolving the marking issues.
What Not To Do!
Don’t punish your pet after the fact. Punishment administered even a minute after the event is ineffective because your pet won’t understand why they are being punished.
If you come home and find that your dog has urinated on all kinds of things, just clean up the mess. Don’t take them over to the spots and yell and rub their nose in them. They won’t associate the punishment with something they may have done hours ago, leading to confusion and possibly fear.
Preparation and patience are key to building a happy relationship!
The key to helping your new dog make a successful adjustment to your home is being prepared and being patient. It can take anywhere from two days to two months for you and your pet to adjust to each other. The following tips can help ensure a smooth transition.
Prepare the things your dog will need in advance. You’ll need a collar and leash, food and water bowls, food, and, of course, some toys. And don’t forget to order an identification tag right away.
Establish House Rules
Work out your dog-care regimen in advance among the human members of your household. Who will walk the dog first thing in the morning? Who will feed them at night? Will they be allowed on the couch, or won’t he? Where will they rest at night? Are there any rooms in the house that are off-limits?
Plan the Arrival
Try to arrange the arrival of your new dog for a weekend or when you can be home for a few days. Get to know each other and spend some quality time together. Don’t forget the jealousy factor — make sure you don’t neglect other pets and people in your household!
Prepare for Housetraining
Assume your new dog is not housetrained and work from there. Read over the housetraining information given to you at the time of adoption and check out our housetraining tips for adult dogs. Be consistent, and maintain a routine. A little extra effort on your part to come home straight from work each day will pay off in easier, faster house training.
Ensure All Pets are Healthy
Animal shelters take in animals with widely varying backgrounds, some of whom have not been previously vaccinated. Inevitably, despite the best efforts of shelter workers, viruses can be spread and may occasionally go home with adopted animals. If you already have dogs or cats at home, make sure they are up-to-date on their shots and in good general health before introducing your new pet dog.
Take your new dog to the veterinarian within a week after adoption. There, they will receive a health check and any needed vaccinations. If your dog has not been spayed or neutered, make that appointment! There are already far too many homeless puppies and dogs; don’t let your new pet add to the problem. Most likely, the shelter will require that you have your pet spayed or neutered anyway. If you need more information about why it is so important to spay or neuter your dog, read our online information on spaying and neutering.
The First Weeks
Give Them a Crate
A crate may look to you like the canine equivalent of a jail cell, but to your dog, who instinctively likes to den, it’s a room of their own. It makes housetraining and obedience-training easier and saves your dog from the headache of being yelled at unnecessarily for problem behavior. Of course, you won’t want to crate your dog all day or all night, or they will consider it a jail cell. Just a few hours a day should be sufficient.
The crate should not contain wire where their collar or paws can get caught, and should be roomy enough to allow your dog to stand up, turn around, and sit comfortably in normal posture.
If a crate isn’t an option, consider some sort of confinement to a dog-proofed part of your home. A portion of the kitchen or family room can serve the purpose very well when sectioned off with a dog or baby gate.
Use Training & Discipline to Create a Happy Home
Dogs need order. Let your pet know from the start who is the boss. When you catch them doing something they shouldn’t, don’t lose your cool. Stay calm, and let them know immediately, in a loud and disapproving voice, that they have misbehaved. Reward them with praise when they do well, too! Sign up for a local dog obedience class, and you’ll learn what a joy it is to have a well-trained dog. Also be sure to read our tip sheet on training your dog with positive reinforcement.
Let the Games Begin
Dogs need an active life. That means you should plan plenty of exercise and game time for your pet. Enjoy jogging or Frisbee? You can bet your dog will, too. If running around the park is too energetic for your taste, try throwing a ball or a stick, or just going for a long walk together. When you take a drive in the country or visit family and friends, bring your dog and a leash along.
Patience is Key!
Finally, remember to temper your expectations. Life with you is a different experience for your new companion, so give them time to adjust. You’ll soon find out that you’ve made a friend for life. No one will ever greet you with as much enthusiasm or provide you with as much unqualified love and loyalty as your dog will. Be patient, and you will be amply rewarded.