Adopting a dog is a truly rewarding experience, but the same as bringing a puppy into your life, it is not without difficulties.
Puppy blues is a very real condition that humans go through and this also applies when adopting a dog whether they are from a kennels, a home, overseas or any other way they have entered your life.
Yes, you have the perks of having an older dog who is in some cases easier to train than a puppy and you don't have to worry about the same issues as a puppy, or do you?
In my professional experience so this is my personal experience, journey and opinion, there is a very high expectation on rescue dogs, that the day or the day after they come home that they will just know all of the rules and boundaries, know exactly where and when to toilet, be trained to an extent, not chew or show any destructive behaviour and be quiet and chill.
What we have got to remember regardless of background is that they have been removed from what they have already known within their recent history.
As humans most of us are creatures of habit, routine, we have certain ideologies and beliefs and quirks.
When you live with another human you can discuss living arrangements, boundaries, feelings, emotions and discuss any problems. You can either agree or disagree, sure but the point is you have the ability to communicate and study one another's body language within that discussion.
For a dog this is much harder. They don't know this new human well enough, they don't know your boundaries and routine or your quirks.
Now consider this dog has come from a traumatic background, street dog, stray, from a war zone or an abusive background.
Dogs experience trauma and humans are given time to adjust and therapy in most cases when adjusting to life after a trauma.
A dog isn't always permitted this kind of holistic approach. Which is sad, as all dogs should be permitted this approach.
So how can we help rescue dogs and not just for those who adopt. You can spread the word, if you know of someone rescuing a dog, you can educate them and there are so many resources from professionals for free and in book form.
First and I can't emphasise this enough, give your new addition time to settle in. As in zero expectations, zilch, nada, zip.
Allow them to check out your home in their own time, let them sniff and yes there will be accidents whether this is indoor toileting or destruction.
But, set them up for success!
Set up a regular toileting schedule just like a puppy, take responsibility from the moment you leave the place you adopted them from. Click each time they begin to toilet, verbally praise them and throw a treat party. If they have an accident in doors. "Oops, silly human." Give them some enrichment away from the accident, clean it up and learn. Keep a journal of the times that accidents or toileting on a schedule happen to learn their toileting needs.
Worktops. Humans! If you don't want your new friend to have a buffet, put it away. In the fridge, the microwave or a cupboard. If you are preparing a meal, and they are hovering, take the opportunity to reinforce standing and watching, sitting or lying down with treats. Tell them what a good job they are doing. Alternatively use a gate and give them some enrichment so that they can choose where to be and enjoying something tasty whilst learning about the noises your home makes and the smells.
Chewing. If you don't want anything chewed, put it away. Move into this frame of thinking, items do not belong on the stairs to go up later, there is no time like the present! Shoes, coats, accessories go in a cupboard with a door handle. Expensive electronics are too valuable to be left lying around. Imagine you have a parent /guardian living on your shoulder.
Do not give them high value treats to eat or take onto sofas or human beds. Utilise a gate or a Doggy Enrichment Land (more on that soon).
Do not grab collars. If your new friend wants to check out your sofa or bed, do not set them up to fail by grabbing their collar. Grab a treat and throw it for them to go and chase. Limit access to rooms until you have trust with one another.
Treat Bombs are your best friend and are not bribery. You are now investing in a bank account, which is your new friends brain, have a treat bomb in every room and use this each time you want to redirect their behaviour. Open the bomb, grab treats, throw them on the floor away from whatever it is you don't want them to do. https://youtu.be/moORgVWv40k DO NOT ABUSE THE TREAT BOMB TO SHAKE AT THEM!
Consent, consent, consent. Condition to a harness, condition to the collar being touched, redirect from behaviours you don't want. https://youtu.be/MYpGvSnkBJo
We have an entire series on our YouTube for consent and collaborative care. Just go to https://youtube.com/@miyagisdogtraining
Let them be in a safe space or Doggy Enrichment Land when you have visitors, do not set them up to fail by being overwhelmed.
Purchase or purchase your friend, neighbour or family member the Do No Harm Dog Training and Behaviour Handbook available in paperback or ebook form from Amazon https://amzn.to/3PhC74z where you/they will find everything they need to know about Doggy Enrichment Lands and everything else about living with a dog, literally.
Encourage them to join the Do No Harm Dog Training Group also www.facebook.com/donoharmdogtraining
Get a Vet check to ensure that there is nothing going on medically, that there are no underlying illnesses or pain. Not all Rescues etc do this and a vet check is not the same as boosters.
Remember they could be reactive on either end of the scale and this in itself is a separate issue, but joining the free group above will ensure that you/they will have qualified and expert advice and support.
Sharing your life with any dog is a rewarding experience and when you follow the above and set your new addition up for success, you will build the best memories. 💜
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Image description: the title reads: The Emotional Bucket, written and illustrated by Tasha Attwood of Miyagis Dog Training and Behaviourist Services.
This is a four panel comic strip. The first window reads: "A brief look" and "Fantastic! You have adopted a dog and became their caregiver!" with an image of a kennels against a blue background. The second window has a Wolfdog curled up under a green double bed with a sign above that reads "Home, sweet, home". A speech bubble reads "But they/ we seem to be struggling!
They don't seem happy?" the dog's speech bubble reads "If they take themselves away they just need space and time to adjust." The pink text box reads: "Don't worry it's not you! It takes time. It can take three to six months for them to begin to feel comfortable.
They have gone through a trauma of relocation, they don't know you, your family or home yet. They aren't sure of the smells in your home, furniture or how to behave.
They need time to adjust"
The bottom left window has a Wolfdog on a pink bed, curled up under the window with the sun streaming in. The text box reads "Giving them space, teaching them that you are safe, being patient with them will help them.
Every human hurts emotionally with a loss. Be it end of a relationship or worse.
We already know dogs have big emotions like us.
Living with another human is hard for humans, learning about this human, their habits, rules and how they live is hard. But you can talk about it.
Now imagine your a dog and you can't chat about it, but you can show them through love, patience and kindness." The red text box under the wolf reads:" They will begin to show signs of being comfortable."
The last window has a human playing tug with a Wolfdog and a human sat on an orange sofa reading whilst a Wolfdog is playing on their back with a Kong on a green rug. The text box reads "As time goes on you will become the best of friends, they will understand you, your family, routine and boundaries and you will begin to understand them." The final text box reads "Have faith that everything will fall into place, because it will."