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Your best advice...(11 Posts)
We're due to get our lovely rescue dog in a couple of weeks and we are beside ourselves with excitement. Well, DH hasn't really had any experience of dogs so he's cautiously enthusiastic whereas the kids and I are almost hyperventilating with joy...
So, wise dog owners, can you hit me with your best advice? From 'house rules' to training, baskets to leads, bowls to brushes, behaviour to adapting to life with a dog.
For info, he's a two-year-old, untrained, crazily placid golden retriever, excellent with cats, kids and other dogs.
Single most important piece of advice? May sound harsh, but do a lot of ignoring him when he first arrives - not in a cruel way, but in a way that gives him time and space to check out his new surroundings and routine.
Everyone's natural instinct is to shower a new rescue with love and cuddles and treats, and it can be very confusing for them if this is not what they are used to.
Don't invite loads of people round to meet him as however laid back he may appear, a change of circumstances is stressful.
Don't feel obliged to put him on the lead and immediately go out for a walk - he's perfectly fine at home for a while until he gets to know you.
A two year old ‘crazily placid’ retriever good with everyone I would argue is an unusual find, unless it was a relationship break up or something.
I wouldn’t be surprised if later down the line a behavioural problem shows itself.
My parents actually rehomed a retriever once when I was a child and were told the same.
He actually turned out to have a pretty serious resource guarding problem and resource guarding is a known and common problem in retrievers.
So yes, be excited but also cautious.
His ‘true’ temperament won’t surface until he’s been living with you a few weeks.
A crate is extremely useful, definately get one of them.
House rules, me personally, the dog has to wait and walk behind me up and down stairs, any attempt to push I block with my leg and give s verbal correction (ah sound) and has to sit and wait for permission to go through the front door/any gate on a walk for safety’s sake.
I let her on the sofa but I wouldn’t let a new dog on the sofa until it’s true temperament is evident and it knows and understands the rules.
Any guarding of the sofa and I wouldn’t allow the dog sofa rights again.
I don’t personally make her sit and wait for food anymore because the cat won’t and I feel bad for her but before i got the cat she had to sit and wait before eating.
Retrievers are double coated and shed a lot so lots of brushing and vacuuming will be needed.
What fivedogstofeed said.
Don't let the children crowd him. Kindness is good but too much fuss and attention can wind the dog up.
Remember he'll have a lot to learn, and may not have been taught much in his previous home, so calm and consistent and don't panic if things are hard to start with, or if he's on his best behaviour for a few weeks then regresses.
I hope he's lovely and you have a great time with him!
Be consistent. Ensure the kids follow the same rules. It helps make them feel secure. Give them a space of their own (crate / den / bed in quiet area)
get cheap 'dog towels' in a colour that won't get mixed up with human ones - ours are bright cerise.
Look into Kongs.
Once he is settled, teach him to walk nicely on the lead, recall well and maybe even respond to a stop whistle. This will expand the number of places you can take him to, and make him more fun and less stress to have around.
Get him to know the smell of his lead. For good recall, bend down to his eye level and when you call his name, make sure his lead is in your hand so that he can see and smell it. This really helps with recall training.
Train him to heel! There are lots of youtube videos on this. I used the method my dad used when training our rescue dogs. But there's loads out there on YT. I did not use treats. I used the lead for him to smell and still, I keep it at my side when walking him off lead/commanding him to heel.
I'm not a huge fan of training with treats. We did this initially when our dog was a pup, but stopped after a few weeks so that he actually would do things on command as opposed to 'there's food in it for me'. Some dogs respond better to this than others though. Treats may be your best bet. You'll have to work that one out.
Go to 'puppy' school. I know he's not a puppy but ask your vet who the local recommendation is, call them up, and do a course with your children and DH in tow. I cannot emphasize this enough. Usually, a trainer will run a course in a local church hall and these courses will not break the back. People will say you can get away without puppy school, but I feel it's so worth it. You do learn a surprising amount and it will benefit your DH if he hasn't dealt with dogs.
Finally: Be the alpha. Be the alpha. Be the alpha!
When reading about training strongly ignore anything that prescribes alpha theory or pack order or dominance.It's been so disproven but continues to exist because of celebrity dog people. Look at positive reinforcement training. Be prepared that the dogs personality may appear to change in a month or so. This is just a sign that they are settling and not as shut down.
The best advice is ignore anyone who says anything about alpha dog and pack theory as it’s all bollocks .
I would add, to start as you mean to go on. If you don't want the dog on the sofa, in a certain room or upstairs, don't make exceptions.
Get the dog used to being brushed and handled, always crate him in the car and don't give him constant attention.
No matter how good he may be, never let him be alone with younger children. Ascertain when he is showing signs of stress and let him escape to 'his' place, be it bed or crate.