I Have a New Dog! Now What?

Posted on July 14th, 2020 by FetchMasters in Uncategorized

As a Denver dog trainer, I spend every day talking to people whose dogs are out of control. While a few people contact us pre-emptively to prepare for a new dog, they are the exception. Most people call us reactively — after things have gone wrong.

To be clear, I’m not blaming folks for waiting too long. We watch so many movies about dogs being heroes and soul mates that we tend to assume they get that way by themselves. But the truth is, many dogs need training to smoothly integrate into our homes.

So, in this article, I want to talk about several things you can do to help your dog smoothly transition into your home environment.

  1. The title of this article assumes you already have a dog. But, just in case you don’t, put some effort into selecting the right one. We’ve previously written a four-part series on the Fundamentals of Selecting a Dog.

  2. As soon as you get your dog, focus on crate training and house training your dog.

    The reason to focus on house training your dog is obvious; soiling in the home is one of the primary reasons people give up on their dogs.

    However, crate training can be a tad more controversial. Clients seem to want their dogs to have free roam of the house, and that is not an unreasonable goal for many dogs. However, the dog’s training and maturity level play into how soon free-roaming is feasible. So, until your dog gets to the point where you start incrementally increasing his freedom, the crate comes in very handy. Not to mention, the crate is a valuable asset for transporting dogs and house training them. If you need help crate training your dog, there are numerous online tutorials. And, of course, we are always happy to help here at FetchMasters.

  3. Immediately start teaching your dog routine and boundaries. As soon as your new dog arrives at your home, it s going to start trying to figure out how things work. When and where does it get fed? Where does it go potty? When does it go for walks? What furniture can I get on? What toys belong to me? Can I get on the bed? What is my role when a guest comes into the home?

    The more interactive you are in helping your dog understand these things, the sooner your dog will buy into the new arrangement. The less interactive you are, the more the dog will try to figure it out by himself — and you might now like the conclusions he comes to.

    Probably the biggest problem we run into when people try to communicate with their dogs is that they treat the dog as if it should naturally understand basic human communication. While some dogs are very clever and seem to hang on our every word, not all dogs will figure you out so easily.

    A lot can be said about communicating with your dog. But this article should get you started.

    Want to know why it’s a good idea to get professional photos of your dog? Here is why I offer that service!

  4. Obedience training should start early. Not all dog trainers agree with the use of the term “obedience.” That is an article for another time. But, for the purpose of this article, assume that by obedience I mean teaching the dog to sit, lay down, stay, come when called, walk nicely on it’s name, look at you when you ask for the dog’s attention, etc.

    Obedience is more than a bunch of card tricks your dog can do. It needs to be trained to the point of functionality in the real world. At FetchMasters, high performance obedience in difficult environments is our claim to fame.

    All of these skills are tools that can be used to mitigate various problems. For example, if your dog likes to jump on guests at the door, a solid sit-stay can fix that — if it is indeed solid.

    Additionally, obedience training is the basis of verbal communication with your dog. Your words start to actually mean something concrete to your dog; they convey to your dog what you want, and that often is the biggest part of the battle.

    So, unless your dog has actually been trained to understand some word, do not assume that it understands what you are saying.

  5. Address problem behaviors early. It is important to understand that dogs are mostly just trying to do what gets them what they want or need. With any problem behavior, you must ask yourself: what want or need is this fulfilling?

    Often times, behavior problems are solved by showing the dog a way that it can be successful in getting what it wants or needs. This is the essence of dog training.

    When you do not address problem behaviors early, dogs have a tendency to intensify those behaviors to make them work better. This is why behavior problems rarely iron themselves at; they tend to get worse over time.

    While this all sounds simple on the surface, the reality of solving a dog’s behavior problems can be much more tricky. It’s a good idea to contact your trainer to get a jumpstart on solving problems before they get too intense.

I hope this gives you some good tips to smoothly transition your new dog into it’s home. If you need any assistance, feel free to reach out. FetchMasters offers private coaching and group classes and provides distance coaching to clients worldwide.