In This Chapter
- Giving your dog the lay of the land
- Introducing her to your family and other pets
- Surviving the first night
- Scheduling your life around your new dogHousetraining).
Prior to placing your dog in her area, put fresh water within easy reach and include at least three toys along with a comfortable bed.
Remain with your new dog for a few minutes. Remember: You’re her source of comfort. Show her the toys — interact with her and the toys to increase her interest in them. Stroke her gently and speak in a soothing tone of voice. All these things will help your dog relax.
You’ll know you can leave her in her room when:
- She lays on her hip.
- Her head lowers.
- Her breathing is calm and slow.
Toyland: Choosing the right toys
So many toys, so little time. You really won’t know which toys your dog likes until you’ve tried a few of them and gauged her reaction. Some dogs merely mouth their toys while others demolish them.
The safest bets are heavy-duty toys that you can fill with food treats — such as sterilized hollow shank bones, Kong toys, Buster Food Cubes, and others along those lines. A delectable toy will maintain your dog’s attention, preventing her from using her bed or your walls as chewing outlets. Offer a variety at all times.
If she gets up when you leave (which is a possibility, because her source of comfort is no longer nearby), don’t give in and return. Unless you plan on always sleeping with your dog, she needs to get used to the idea of being alone in her area. Go about your business and don’t look at her. She’ll either turn her attention to the toys or return to napping.
Fighting Those First-Night Blues
Being in a new place with a new family is tough, especially when your dog may have been attached to people or other animals in her last home. The first night in your house may be very frightening — she’s found all kinds of new smells, new people, and new companions. It’s a lot to take in all at once. Where’s the dog she used to cuddle with? What are all those new sounds?
It may take a day or two for your new mixed-breed dog to acclimate to her new home. Until then, you need to understand why she’s unable to relax and figure out how to help her.
Whether you got your mixed-breed dog from a breeder, picked her up from a rescue group, or adopted her from a humane society, she was probably living with other dogs (or puppies) and had formed a relationship with them. Dogs are pack animals, social creatures. They want the company of other canines and they’re very lonely when they’re separated from them. Your new mixed breed will likely miss her former friends until she feels at home with you.
This situation can be far different if you already have another dog, as long as the other dog has accepted your new dog and is willing to allow her to remain nearby at night. However, if your new dog isn’t readily accepted as part of the pack, she’ll likely pace, whine, and scratch to get to you.
The first tendency of new dog owners is to take their anxious dog into bed with them, thinking this is the best way to alleviate the poor dog’s insecurity. Unless you’re planning on always doing this, don’t. Yes, your dog might sleep better, but you’ll regret it later if you really want her to sleep somewhere else.
Allowing your dog to sleep with you is setting a precedent for the future. Your dog learns that whining and scratching will earn her a place in the preferred bed. Plus, this will make her feel empowered, in control of the family instead of merely a family member. This situation can be a dangerous one for a mixed-breed dog with dominant tendencies.
The first night may be difficult for both of you, but setting the house rules early in the game will help your new dog learn her place within your family and home. She’ll settle in faster, learn her role, and discover the difference between right and wrong.
Here are some things you can do to help your new mixed breed dog settle in:
– Sit with her a while at her bed, massaging her chest, back, and ears.
– Keep the lights turned low, not off.
– Try to avoid sharp noises.
– Give her herbal remedies such as valerian root or chamomile tablets an hour before bedtime to help her relax. You can find these at nearly any store that sells vitamins.
– Flower remedies such as Equilite brand, Home Sweet Home, or Bach Flower Rescue Remedy (see Chapter Hup, Two, Three, Four: Good Manners and Basic Training) are great for helping your dog settle into her new home. You can obtain these online or at many popular pet stores.
Before putting her to bed give her lots of exercise. A tired dog doesn’t have the energy to stress.
Scheduling Time for Your New Dog
You got a dog to enrich your life. Your new mixed breed gives you joy and is something you look forward to each day — and you need to be the same for her. You have to make time for her — time for exercise, specific feeding and relief schedules, and an education (see Chapter Hup, Two, Three, Four: Good Manners and Basic Training).
When you make a schedule stick to it. Dogs are creatures of habit. Knowledge of what’s going to occur, and when, helps your mixed breed dog adjust to her new life quickly.
Exercise and playtime
Exercising your dog is just as important as feeding her. Set aside time each day to play with your dog and work with her.
The amount of exercise she needs depends on her age, her breed mix, and her personality. But you can be certain that without enough exercise, she’ll engage in the wrong activities — both to get your attention and to occupy her time.
Walking along on a leash does is great exercise, especially for an older dog, but younger dogs need more than this.
Though training exercises do stimulate your dog’s mind, and make her tired, they don’t totally exercise her body. Dogs need free play — off leash, preferably with other dogs, provided they haven’t ever displayed any aggression to other canines.
A small dog will often get plenty of exercise racing around the house, but that isn’t the preferred situation for a medium-sized or large dog. Having an 80-pound dog racing around an apartment or even a good-sized house can be quite disruptive. More so as she jumps over the couch, runs through the kitchen, and barrels over a trash can or two. Having any dog larger than 10 pounds means lots of exercise — outside, in all types of weather.
A fenced yard will help, but your mixed-breed dog will prefer to spend much of her exercise time interacting with you, such as going for long walks, and playing fetch and chase games. Make time for this.
Dogs need to know when they’re going to eat. Feed your mixed breed in the same location every time so that she knows where she’ll be eating. This will help prevent her feeling that she can eat anywhere in your home, which can set her up for future anxiety (see Chapter Tackling Mixed-Breed Training Challenges).
Your mixed-breed dog’s feed dish should be somewhere in the kitchen, but not in a direct path with your cooking area. Under a desk, at one end of a kitchen island, or at the edge of the room are generally good places. Place the water dish near the feed dish.
Don’t place the dog’s dish near a trash can. She might think the can is part of her meals.
Stick to a feeding schedule to help your dog know that she’ll be taken care of at a specific time. The feeding times depend greatly on your own work schedule, as well as the age of your mixed-breed dog.
Let’s say you work a regular 9-to-5 job. In order to give your mixed-breed dog time to exercise and relieve herself before and after work, try the following scheduling:
6 a.m. Take her to her relief zone.
6:15 a.m. Feed her.
6:30 to 7 a.m. Take her to her relief zone and exercise her a bit before leaving for work.
5:30 to 6 p.m. Take her to her relief zone.
6:15 p.m. Feed her.
7 p.m. Take her to her relief zone and exercise her a lot.
What about if you work irregular hours? Regardless, try to stick to some semblance of a schedule. You may not be able to offer consistent exercise times, but you do need to offer similar feeding times.
Due to their faster metabolism, young dogs need to be fed more often than older dogs. Here’s a sample feeding schedule for a dog under 5 months of age for someone who works the regular 9-to-5 job, keeping in mind that there will be an opportunity for the youngster to eat and exercise midday — whether you can come home at that time, or have someone do it for you, it’s an important consideration when bringing home a young dog.
6 a.m. Take her to her relief zone.
6:15 a.m. Feed her.
6:30 a.m. Take her to her relief zone and exercise her a lot.
12 p.m. Feed her.
12:15 p.m. Take her to her relief zone and exercise her a lot.
6 p.m. Feed her.
6:15 p.m. Take her to her relief zone and exercise her a lot.
Dogs over 5 months of age can safely be fed twice a day, as long as they don’t have a medical condition that requires the dog to be fed smaller meals more often (see Chapter First Aid: Dealing with Emergencies).
Potty time goes hand in hand with feeding time, because when your dog eats has the most bearing on when your dog needs to go out (see the preceding section). If you want a housetrained dog, you’ll have to adhere to a schedule. Make certain you schedule her potty breaks into your day or arrange to have someone available to do it for you.
The younger the dog, the more often she’ll need to potty. This is something to keep in mind when you choose a dog. Do you have the time to take her to her relief zone every hour or so? If you want to housetrain a puppy (see Chapter Housetraining), that’s what you’ll have to do.
The more your pup exercises, the more often she’ll need to be taken to her relief zone.
Dogs over the age of 4 months can hold themselves longer, but they still require relief times more often than a dog over 9 months of age. Take your 4- to 9-month-old dog out every three to four hours to be on the safe side. After the age of 9 months, you can wait as long as 6 hours, longer if she has to, but that wouldn’t be kind to her on a daily basis.
Male dogs require more time to relieve themselves because they have the tendency to urinate several times instead of letting their bladders empty all at once. They also have to relieve themselves more often throughout the day than most female dogs.
by Miriam Fields-Babineau