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Bringing your new “shelter” canine companion home.

Many families choose the holidays as a good time to give the gift of a new dog or puppy to their children or family member. Winter can be a difficult time to train an untrained dog or new puppy. Reduced daylight and bad weather are not always ideal for the numerous trips required outdoors to potty train a dog correctly.

Here are some tips to help make your new dog’s transition to their new home as easy as possible:

Puppy or dog-safe your home. Create a pet-friendly environment in the same manner you would if you had a baby or toddler in your home. Items such as cords, house plants, chemicals, electric outlets and items you would be upset if ruined like books or keepsakes are out of reach of your animal. It might sound silly but get down on the floor at the level that your new dog will be and look around to make sure nothing was missed that may get them into trouble.
Baby gates are wonderful for blocking off areas that you would prefer not have your new addition go. Dogs and puppies are curious and just as babies they don’t
understand that they could get hurt from chewing on different items in your home.

Build a Bond. If you have adopted a shelter dog, they were most likely feeling stressed in the shelter environment. Now is a great time to take some vacation
days or adjust your schedule if possible to be home with your adopted dog for the first few days or weeks.  The same is true for a new puppy. The more time you
can spend together the faster the bond will form and a trusting relationship will begin. Not to mention less opportunity for accidents and negative behavior.
Accidents will happen, even with an older shelter dog. DO NOT get angry at your new dog, they are getting used to their new environment, and proper potty training, potty breaks, patience, and training is imperative. Keep in mind how long they should be able to hold their bladder. It is not their fault if you are gone over the number of hours they can hold it. Make sure your schedule is conducive to being home to train and let your dog out during the day or hire a dog walker.
Elizabeth Catalano, Director at The Coventry School For Dogs wrote an article a few issues ago that breaks down step-by-step how to properly potty train your
dog. You can find the article on our website, www.marylanddogmag.com.

Set a schedule.  Just as in a potty schedule, a consistent routine from the beginning can help put your new dog at ease in their new home. As much as possible keep
walks, feeding and training time as routine and familiar as possible. Train your new best friend. Even if you have rescued a shelter dog and the dog is a little older, they may still need to be trained for your environment. If you don’t know who trained the dog, you may not know what they used for motivation, treats or praise. Most shelters have a staff trainer who should be able to let you know their techniques.
Shelters are full of lovable dogs of all breeds, sizes and ages needing a good home and ready to become your best friend. The winter can be a very cold and lonely
place for any animal to spend. If you haven’t gotten your new furry family member yet, please consider a shelter dog first.

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