Hi there Lindsay here. Welcome to the third in our series of posts intended to help you settle in your new Rommie pal.
In previous posts I’ve covered how to prepare your home for your new arrival, understanding how your dog will be feeling and the importance of providing somewhere safe for them to retreat to.
I hope the following points will give you more useful information.
Provide some safe chew toys and comfort toys
Ah yes, the dreaded chewing. As I mentioned in the first article, chewing is to be expected. You may be fortunate and have a dog who integrates without chewing much at all, but those dogs are in the minority!
Dogs investigate their surroundings with their nose and mouth, much like a toddler would. Plus your Rommie has most likely not lived in a home environment before and so will (once initial fear and nervousness have subsided) naturally become curious about all of the weird and wonderful things that now surround them.
You can minimise accidental destruction by removing anything which can be removed, temporarily, until you have got your Rommie settled in. Meanwhile, you should offer a couple of things which they are allowed to chew, to help them settle in. Chewing is a soothing behaviour for a dog, akin to sucking a dummy in a baby. It helps them to feel more relaxed and to cope with periods of time where there is little else to entertain them.
There are a wide variety of chews available, the choice can be overwhelming. Personally I would recommend the Kong lines, but remember to avoid rope toys in dogs <1year old, ropes can catch around teeth and pull teeth out. I know that Kong can seem pricey, but you get what you pay for. Kongs are the only items which my two Rommies don’t destroy in under a minute, in fact the Kongs last my two for months.
Chewy treat are also a good diversion, but remember that they must be counted towards your dogs daily food intake. Jumbones and Dentasticks are actually very high in calories and many owners accidentally over feed their dogs when using these. Personally, I would avoid Rawhide chews at all costs. (why? Well, don’t take my word for it; Google the making of rawhide treats)
Give them space
I am highlighting this again, though I mentioned it in point 1, because I feel that this is a very important point. It is natural to be excited about the arrival of your newly adopted dog, but many first-time dog owners or adopters then accidentally add to their new dogs anxiety, by crowding them.
Giving your dog some space is important for two reasons, 1 – You (and any other humans in the household) need to be seen as the pack leader/ senior members of the pack. 2 – Your new dog needs to be able to explore his new home on his own terms.
We all love our dogs and dogs have been sharing our homes for generations, however, they are and will always remain pack animals by nature. Dogs understand their place in a pack and discipline is maintained by the leader and the seniority of others in the pack structure.
A pack leader does not follow the juniors around seeking affection, quite the opposite, the leader remains aloof, settles down where they choose and the junior members approach the leader when they feel comfortable, seeking affirmation and hopefully receiving it.
So, remembering your “plan” about where your dog will be allowed to roam (or how large an area you are prepared to clear of “chewables” and patrol for “accidents” until house-training is established), allow your dog the space to roam, settle yourself down with a cuppa to watch telly or read a book, and let them decide where they are comfortable.
In time, your dog will come to you for affection, belly rubs, ear scratches etc, but please don’t try to force the issue. They will let you know when they are ready.
Start with just a couple of basic commands
Contrary to what some people believe, dogs don’t speak English (or Romanian)! Dogs will listen to your voice, but the words are mostly a jumble, it is the tone and inflection which the dog will be absorbing. Dogs can learn words, provided the word is a clear command which is delivered consistently and repeatedly.
Personally, I would start with “No” or “Leave It”. You do need to be able to express to your dog when they are doing something which they should not be. Similarly there should be a praise word used, such as “Good Girl” or “well done” or “twinkies”, the word itself means nothing, it is the repetition, tone and consistency of use which is important! For going out on walks, I would introduce “Come” and “Heel” fairly quickly too, but more on that level of training will come in the next article.
To assist with embedding commands, I would encourage you to find a reward which your dog appreciates. There are some dogs out there who are not food oriented, though again I find these to be in the minority. However with overweight dogs then food treats may not be the right answer, in which case a favourite toy or a loved belly rub may be the reward of choice. Again, this will depend upon your dog.
When your dog does what you want, reward them, but remember to reward the good behaviour, not the bad. For the most part, dogs live in the “Now” and don’t associate a telling off now, with a misdemeanour which occurred 2 hours ago while they were unsupervised. Thus, if you come home and find the dogs have made a mess, it is too late to get cross and tell them off. Similarly, if you take them for a walk and they are good (not reacting to stimuli, walking nicely on the lead) you need to reward them at the time, rather than when you get home.
Look out for Lindsay’s next post that will cover lots more training tips for when you get your Rommie dog home.
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