Welcome Alfred – Getting a Dog

We have a new member of the family!!

Alfred, who we call Fred, has come to us through the Loved at Last Dog Rescue.  He’s absolutely adorable!!  He’s about a year old, Jack Russel and Maltese, and has the best personality ever.  Because he’s been with us a little over a week, and we’re absolutely in love with him, we figured it was a good time to talk about how he came into our lives, and a few things you should prepare when welcoming a new pet into your lives.

1.) First off, pets are versatile.  You don’t need to stock up on beds, blankets and toys until you know what they like.  We bought Fred a bed to sleep in, and he doesn’t want anything to do with it!  He chewed a rope right up in a day, so he needed hardier toys while he’s still teething.  The only thing you really have to have is food and a way to bring him safely home (leash and collar).  The rest you can get the next day onces you know what he’s like.

2.) House Training.  When we got Fred, the foster home told us he’s pretty good about going outside.  Well you wouldn’t think that after the first day!!  You need to give them time to adjust.  Your home is new and fresh smelling, and at first they don’t feel like they belong there.  Fred wasn’t going to the washroom, he was marking his new turf!  It’s important not to get mad or frustrated with your dog for spotting on your carpet the first little while.  Be patient, and help them understand that it makes you happier when they go outside.

3.) Make an appointment with the vet right away.  You need to make sure the dog is healthy, and that you’re meeting their needs.  Fred was mostly updated on his shots, but because he came from another country, he needed one more.  The vet helped let us know where behaviorally he was showing inconsistencies, and helped us understand where to watch out in the beginning.  But be careful!!  Our vet is great, but Fred didn’t know or trust them.  He ended up biting me in his panic, and he felt bad right away.  I didn’t get mad at him; the vet and I just calmed him down and made him feel safe.  And after the vet, he got a nice big walk and play time as a reward for being good!!  You need to associate the vet with good behavior and happy rewards.

4.) Be patient!!  We can’t stress this enough.  Fred was awesome, but he has some behavioral issues and inconsistencies at the moment.  The first night he was a little uncomfortable.  It’s a new environment, and he just couldn’t settle.  Because we got him late in the day, he didn’t get the walk he needed to really konk out.  That all changed the next day when a full day of playing and running was followed by a full nights sound sleep.  He spots on the carpet to claim his new turf.  It turns out he’s teething, so he needs lots to chew on.  If you don’t give him anything, he’ll go after something he can reach.  These dogs have usually been neglected, and it can take them while to trust that you’re going to come out of your room in the morning and still love them.  Be prepared to change your life around a little to accommodate them at the beginning.  Put away things in your house that serve no purpose other than decor.  Take away temptation!

5.) Are you going through a rescue like we did?  I have to admit, there was one organization that I turned down because they completely weirded me out.  I felt bad, because no matter what the dogs need a home, but supporting an organization that seems fishy didn’t work for me.  Do your research!

6.) Keep them on the leash.  It can be so easy to fall in love with this cute little face, but you really don’t know their history.  I was told Fred was okay around dogs, but not so much around kids.  So our first few walks, even in the off leash dog park, he stayed at my side on his leash.  The first dog that came up, Fred was a little skittish, but I showed him it was okay to greet the other dog by petting him myself.  A few dogs later, he was ready.  As for kids, I was surprised when a young mother and her young toddler walked passed and asked if they could pet the dog.  I was honest with her that I hadn’t had him very long, but I knew what to look out for if he was uncomfortable.  To my delight, Fred was great!  He licked her sons hands, and made him giggle.  Then he walked off wagging his tail.  Don’t let a new dog close to kids until you’re sure they’re well behaved.

7.) Be the alpha.  Fred was all over the place when we first got him.  At first he was skiddish around me, but that changed after a good meal and a warm cuddle.  Then he was submissive, then dominant, then… well naughty!  He was testing all my boundaries.  You can feel at first that you want them to feel safe and loved, but don’t forget the boundaries.  Fred needs to know that I’m the Alpha, and that’s not cruel.  The alpha protects you so you can feel safe in your environment.  He needs to know what no means, and what isn’t allowed.  I was firm with him at first, and showered him with love when he did the right thing.  I didn’t shout or punish him severely, but I didn’t acknowledge the bad behavior either.  I took time every day to train him the basics, and it all came down to teaching him to listen to me.  On walks, he had to walk beside me.  He wasn’t allowed to jump all over the couch.  He wasn’t allowed to beg while we ate.  He learned these lessons really quickly, and he loves us more than ever!

These are just a few tips based on us adopting Fred.  Just prepare yourself for unwanted behavior.  It is absolutely impossible to get a dog that’s perfect for you off the bat.  It’s not going to take days, it’s going to take months until everything is sorted.  The younger the dog, the easier to train but also the more naughty behavior!  Older dogs might be calmer, but they can be set in the ways and a little harder to train out of behaviors.

Getting Fred is the best thing in the world!  We wouldn’t give him up for anything.

*Photo’s by Jayne

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