Dog 101: Bringing Your New Puppy or Rescue Home
Updated: May 19
So your new k9 family member is making their big debut in their new home. Quick snap shot:
When bringing home a puppy, they are often between 8-12 weeks of age, have little-to-no familiarity with a crate, do not know a lick about potty training, and will go through a withdrawal period from their littermates and mama before they settle in with their new family.
When bringing home a rescue dog, more often than not, the rescue can only provide a general estimate of their age; they may crave the safety of a crate, fear the confinement of it, or have little-to-no familiarity with it; they could be completely potty trained, need a quick refresher on it, or be starting from square one; and they will go through a period of building trust with their new family before they show their truest self.
Yet bringing home a puppy is quite similar to bringing home a rescue dog: the value of rules and routine are equally as important in both instances, building trust and cultivating a bond will allow your relationship to thrive, and regardless of their duration of time on earth and the circumstances they come from, you are now charged with being their advocate.
Key points to address with your new puppy and/or rescue dog (let’s name the dog Scout):
Set up a schedule. Stick to it. This will aid in potty training, adequate rest, and a generally happy dog. Reminder: intentional time with Scout is more valuable than endless time with Scout. A quick 5-10 minutes to play tug of war, or teach Scout to settle in place, or learn the “sit” command will set up Scout for success and continue to build your bond. Time apart is important so utilize the crate even if you are home — separation anxiety is at an all-time high right now so do your part by teaching your new family member that it’s ok to not be side-by-side all day.
2. Leash Etiquette
We want our dogs to understand the value of leash pressure -- it’s an entire language waiting to be unlocked. Take time inside the home to teach Scout what leash pressure is so the outside walk is less chaotic and overwhelming. While there isn’t a tremendous amount of socialization taking place during COVID, select a few dogs and humans in your hood to play a part in Scout’s growth. Scout can practice waiting for a release command to say hi to the new human or k9 friend, or Scout will learn not to jump up on a person, or Scout will be at ease passing by the dogs on the walk. All of this will help Scout come a long way, both inside and outside, as you use your new language with the leash.
Dogs, especially puppies, talk to each other with their mouth. This can be a tall task for dog parents but it’s an important one to nip in the bud. We want to redirect their attention when teething and mouthiness take place -- with humans or even with a k9 sibling -- and we want to mean what we say. So pick a word associated with this teaching (i.e. no bites, ouch, leave it) and use that same word as we navigate the process with them: you can replace your hand or the non-dog object with one of their toys; you can ignore them entirely or remove your hands and eye contact when they bite at you; you can walk away to make a point; you can spray their face with water; the list goes on and on. There is not one right answer -- it is what works for you and your dog. Be patient and remember they are just acting like a dog; we simply want to teach them that you are not a dog so they don’t need to act out on you. There are a variety of methods and training tips on teething: I will go over a few methods during Tipsy Thursday’s tip of the week on 5/21. Tune in on our Instagram story for happy hour (@teamtbm)!
4. Status as Pack Leader
Whether your dog is an 8-week old puppy or 7-year old rescue mutt with a tumultuous past, it is our responsibility to be their advocate the moment they walk into our lives. We should make choices for our dogs that set them up for success as a dog; we should protect them and guide them and teach them; and we should free them of the worries that we so often place on them. Our dogs are following our lead. If they continue to ruin the house when you leave, what are you doing to change that? If they continue to rip at the leash with their mouth and lunge at dogs on the walk, what are you doing to change that? If they continue to bark at you in a demand for your attention, what are you doing to change that? It’s on you to be their pack leader. That’s the best gift that you can give to your pup.
Last Wednesday, we spoke with Cunucu Dog Rescue to discuss the significant role of being a foster parent and how rescue organizations work. If you’re considering adding a dog to your family but aren’t sure you’re up for the task quite yet, get involved with fostering. There are so many amazing dogs out there waiting to find their forever homes -- rescue or purebred puppy -- so give yourself the opportunity to provide a loving, safe place for a dog in need. You will find that it’s worth every minute of your time. Speaking from personal experience, fostering has changed our family for the better. From calm, mama dogs to wild, young dogs to scared, abused dogs, all of them have taught us how to love bigger: they taught us to be patient because every dog is on their own timeline when it comes to developing trust, to be open to the process because each dog is different, to be consistent regardless of their story because every dog wants to know what we expect of them, and to be their advocate because that is our greatest role for these precious creatures. My partner, our two dogs, and I feel beyond grateful for every foster dog that has entered home and every single forever family that has welcomed them into their home.
Tune in this Wednesday 5/20 as we speak with Shadow, a free app that uses the power of technology and their Volunteers to reunite lost dogs with their families. This is incredibly important right now as so many City dogs are finding themselves outside the City and escaping the suburban home and backyard. Within the TBM family alone, seven dogs have already gotten loose in a non-City home since NY Pause began. All have been located, thankfully, but this is a serious matter that requires both a community to assist when this happens and the proper training tools to teach your dog that there is no need to run. For all rescue dog parents: many are serious flight risks, so tune in to learn more.
Thank you to everyone who has opened their homes and their hearts to a dog. Let’s continue to give them our best by standing in as their advocates.
Pictured: Our latest foster dog, Macallan (fka Midas), from Hearts and Bones Rescue discovering his love for hats with his forever mom and dad.