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Advice for first time dog owners please!(42 Posts)
So we're soon to become the adopters of a medium sized 8 month old crossbreed.
We haven't had dogs before!
Top tips please...
Definitely crate train. Always remember that you are the Alpha and don't ignore or reward unwanted behaviour. It goes without saying that you NEVER hit an animal to discipline them, but the tone of your voice is very important. Never shout, but a firm voice is very powerful.
If the dog isn't house broken, take them outside as often as possible. Then they do their business give lots of praise. Make sure they have appropriate chew toys because at that age they are very mouthy and are probably teething.
Do you have children? How old are they?
Also, don't ever use their crate as a form of punishment. Their crate should be a happy, cozy place for them to relax and sleep.
How do you crate train - is it making them associate the crate with peace, comfort, treats etc? Presumably open all the time? In what room would you put it - we have a choice of study, hall, bedroom or under kitchen table?
Do you know the background of the dog?
8 months of age is a difficult time anyway let alone a dog that has been rehomed. I would be treating them like a younger puppy in terms of training, both obedience and toileting.
I would fine a good 1-1 trainer who will come to you to start you off on the right track.
A quiet place for the crate is ideal. The dog should be locked in it's crate anytime it will be left alone, and you may decide to have it sleep in there at night.
Given your children's ages, they should be able to help a lot with walks and taking the dog out to potty. A dog that age has A LOT of energy to burn, and if not properly exercised, this can lead to destructive behaviours.
I'm sure they won't, but don't allow your children to tease the dog or get him wound up whilst inside. That behaviour is for outside. Honestly, training a dog to be properly socialised is very similar to training our children. Lots of patience, lots of repetition, and lots of love.
Ensure any trainers you work with are up to date with modern methods and do not practise outdated alpha dog theories.
Plenty of patience with toilet training. Consistency is key. Reward what you want and ignore unwanted behaviours. Dogs learn to repeat what is rewarded.
My number one top tip that has paid off for me when everyone else says I was over doing it - you can never practise recall with your dog enough when they are young, especially when they are going through adolescence.
What mix of breeds is the dog? Are there any other animals in the house?
She's possibly a Huntaway but they're not 100%. We have a cat.
Ignore anyone who says anything like pack leader or alpha , it’s all absolute bollocks and you do not need to crate train , there are many of us about who manage very well without locking our dogs in a cage . Make sure that your cat has areas that are dog free and that can be reached by the cat without him / her having to see / get past the dog .
Make sure everyone uses the same words for commands! And a word to use for anything you don't want it to do!! We use a sharp 'ah', great deterant for food snatchers etc!
I'm a first time owner and dont use a crate. I think it's a bit like being a parent you learn as you go along. Its certainly not been as hard as some people make it out to be. Enjoy.
i wish we had not let our dog play with a football - as soon as he got big enough he could bite them and puncture them and then we could not go to any park where there were children with a ball or anywhere football was being played.
our dog is now 11 and still sleeps in his crate - it is his bedroom!
he has never been on a sofa or upstairs
I’m a first timer but had pup almost a year now.
Three things I found the most useful.
1. Sort insurance ASAP before anything ‘pre existing’ comes up and allows the insurers to wriggle out of things. Even something you ask about with a routine nurse check up will go to count against ‘pre existing’ conditions.
2. Playpen. I found it so hard to keep the room completely puppy safe. So he has a playpen that I could leave water, a toy and bed in. Made nipping upstairs for a shower far less of a panicked rush in case he’s eaten a chair leg or chewed a wire.
3. Get a good 1-1 reward based positive trainer. Look for local recommendations (we asked dog walkers while out). Get them to come to your home and chat about what’s important for you.
It took us all a while to settle into how it almost completely changes your life. But none of us would change him now. He’s definitely part of the family.
Put the time into training. The dividends are huge. Short doses, almost every day.
If the dog is a huntaway, it will be bright and have a lot of drive and energy. Training is great for dogs like that as it occupies their minds and tires then out.
Also, be consistent and affectionate. And have fun!
I’ve never used a crate, personally it seemed to small an area. But do buy a baby gate or two. We selected a space in the hallway were nothing chewable could hurt the dog. Water and dry food was available. Over time more area was included. It will all depend on your dogs personality and temperament x
And do post pics for us to fawn over
Puppy proof your house, by moving anything you don ‘t want him to eat out of reach. Make sure cleaning materials and food are in a dog proof cupboard or cupboards out of reach. My DD had cupboards where you press the door to release. Her dog soon learnt that by throwing himself at the door it opened. She was just in time to stop him eating laundry pods.
Then idiot proof your house(my DH) who always leaves cupboard doors open. Talk to the children about how dangerous it is for the dog to swallow things and make sure doors are kept shut if their rooms are not tidy.
Buy lots of chew toys of different strengths. My dog is a chewer and can destroy a toy in minutes. She does get comfort by chewing. Don’t be seduced by packets of dog treats. They are expensive and not always nutritious. Treats, like kibble, cheese, frankfurters or sausages are great. Make sure that you weigh the treats and reduce her food allowance by the same amount. Check that other family members are not giving too many treats,as this will lead to obesity in your dog,
Buy easy peasy puppy squeezy book
this is a fantastic easy to read book which will tell you everything you need to help with a new puppy
The rescue should provide you with lots of support, they currently know the dog best so I would follow their advice to help the dog settle in. As a PP said, please ignore anyone who uses the word 'alpha' it's outdated and just plain inaccurate.
1 - find a good training class with a reputable behaviourist/trainer. Don't go to a village hall type setting. Too many dogs in too small space
2 - if you haven't already, research the breed you're getting. Understand its-behavioural characteristics, what is going to be realistic in terms of training? For example, the vast majority of Salukis are never going to have reliable recall!
3- socialise your dog with other reliable dogs. Bad experiences can have long lasting effects on some dogs
4- research and read up on good training techniques and start to understand how to implement them. I'm not talking about 'sit, roll over, give paw' - but understanding how to set realistic expectations and boundaries in a way in which your dog will understand.
5 - make absolutely sure that you can give the dog enough mental stimulation. Regular walking and exploring new places, playing in the garden, training sessions etc
6- if you decide to crate train you must make sure you've read up on the correct method. So many people just chuck a young puppy into a crate and wonder why it isn't working. Personally I've never done it with any of mine (6 over 15 yrs) but each to their own
If you had spoken to me two months ago I would have said Crate Training is amazing.
But now that he is 7 months, we are not finding any particular necessity for a crate. He is perfectly happy sleeping on the floor, on a sofa, in the corridor, in his dog bed...
He is still housetrained, without the crate, although I think the crate in the first few months definitely made it easier to house train and get him to sleep through in a cosy safe environment which wasn't our bed!!
What I would say is that a nice quiet room where he can go (possibly with you there as well, almost certainly you there as well at the beginning)without feeling there is massive amounts of noise and ruckus, to sleep properly not being constantly woken up, is quite a good way to get the dog to relax and manage on its own for a bit, even you intend leaving him for short periods in the months to come.
It really depends how noisy your house is and how unsettled or hyper your dog is, ours feels very noisy with 4 loud people (I am not including myself in this!) roaming around, and puppies can get overstimulated. And having a room for the dog to sleep peacefully and chill out, it doesn't have to be an actual crate, has worked for us.
It is also one of the nicest things about having a dog, just chilling with them by your side...So a crate isnt essential, to make your dog feel secure and safe, but it can sometimes, remedy the deficiencies in a very overwhelming busy household..
Just to add re the insurance. Get the best deal you can afford, dog treatment can be very costly and always go for life time cover rather than yearly. And remember with insurance you generally get what you pay for; cheapest is not usually best.
To be brief, our dog no longer sleeps in his crate at night, and we do not lock him into a crate at all. But we do leave him in a room with the door closed at night, downstairs, with a bowl of water.
Blackout blind in the room where he sleeps might also be helpful, we are finding the morning sun wakes ours up now, whereas in a darker room he is asleep 9 hours at night.
Dogs do like to sleep more than you can imagine, in between walks. So when they wake up first thing in the morning, they will have a pee outside, and then, you might think they are ready to start the day, but often they will just go back to sleep again. I just assumed dogs started the day and needed to go for a long walk immediately, but this is not actually the case with our vivacious poodle...potters and sleeps till 10am before walk is required...
Never walk your dog straight after breakfast or big meal, better to have breakfast after a walk or leave an hour's gap for digestion.