Recommendations for new adopters & new pug parents
I'm posting this with permission of the author in the hopes it will be of some people who have expressed problems and asked questions about integrating a new pug into their home. And since it's a good reminder for all of us, I've posted in this section as opposed to rescue.
I’m Home By Lorraine Houston of Speaking of Dogs Rescue
Originally published in Dogs, Dogs, Dogs in the Oct/Nov. 2010 issue
(portions of the original document have been modified by Pugalug Pug Rescue to comply with the rescue’s guidelines with consent of the author)
Adopting a shelter or rescue dog can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime. Now that you are ready and have done your homework, you feel that you’ve covered all the bases. You have selected a dog whose profile and description matches well with your lifestyle, researched the breed or mix as best you can, spoken at great length with the shelter/rescue personnel about your chosen dog, made arrangements for training, have a crate, called your veterinarian and groomer to give them the exciting news and triple checked your fence for any escape routes. Yep, you’re good to go – off to finalize your adoption.
As you are driving to pick up your new bundle of unconditional love, reality hits you smack dab in the middle of the forehead. This is not your beloved old dog, Nina, who fit like a comfy slipper and knew intuitively what you were thinking and what you were going to do next. This is not a dog who knows and understands all your neighbours, their dogs, their kids and Mr. Schaffer who walks with a cane and insists on stopping for a visit (while looming over) with Nina each time you met at the park. Heck, this dog doesn’t know your house, your routine – or YOU for that matter! Panic is beginning to set in, but you realize that although you are a bit rusty, after all it’s been 14 years since you’ve been in this position, you are committed to make things work, and work to the best of your ability! At this moment you are thinking “I wish there had been an article in Dogs, Dogs, Dogs! about bringing home a rescue/shelter dog so I would have a better idea of what and what not to expect to make this transition as easy as possible – for both of us!”
Wish and you shall receive. I’ve made a list of do’s and don’ts that I hope will give you a good starting point, but remember that all dogs and people are different and there will be variables and situations that will require you to use your good common sense as well as your good dog sense.
LIST OF DO’S
- DO - Expect ‘accidents’ to happen. Whether your new dog is marking her new home (yes females do this too), she is uncertain of where to access “the bathroom door” or she is just overly excited and/or stimulated (we all know that feeling!) she may have a pee or poop in the home, especially the first few days. Don’t assume she is not housetrained, trying to be alpha or is not happy in her new home. New environments, especially those that have had other dogs in them, can trigger a dog to eliminate to communicate a message such as “I’m here now too” and, although we would prefer this not to happen, it does typically only last a few days. There are preventative steps you can take: baby gate off certain areas of the home, establish an elimination routine (in fact, I often suggest to our foster parents with their new charges to have a notebook handy and jot down the times of urination and defecation so they have a self-made schedule and can refer to it), take her in and out of the same door, make use of the crate, use the attached ‘leash to waist’ technique and/or offer outdoor opportunities and praise for desired results.
- DO – Expect your new dog to be restless and anxious initially. She may whine or pace and it may seem that she is always “on the go” and not settling in. This is not uncommon and generally lasts a few days to a week. Your best reaction to this is – no reaction. Remain calm and, if she is wound up, you need to keep wound down. You may want to distract her by offering a walk, a game of ball, a stuffed Kong. Praise and reinforce when she is calm and relaxed. Don’t get discouraged or frustrated; it is part of the process and she just needs a little time to realize that this is home.
- DO – have your house guidelines and schedules in place. It is not fair to keep switching the ‘rules’ from one day to the next. Your new dog doesn’t know what they are and it’s easier to plan for success rather than try and wait for a misstep. For example, if you don’t want her counter-surfing, ensure there are no tempting tasties within reach or if you really don’t want her in your newly broadloomed dining room, use baby gates to block access to that one room. Just try and think if you were on a tour of an historic castle and there were no signs or barriers to prevent you from entering certain areas. You decide to sit on an 18th century loveseat and eat your lunch – who knew this could possibly be a no-no?
- DO – look into joining training classes which is great for bonding and communication. A good idea is to go and watch a class or two before signing up, talk to the trainers, observe the dogs and their handlers working together and get a grasp on the methods used and techniques. Do you see happy human faces and wagging dog tails? Is this a class you would enjoy participating in? If not, keep searching. Ask shelter or rescue you adopted from for a referral if you are uncertain.
- DO – offer a quiet “getaway” area in the house, whether it’s the crate with door left open, or a cozy bed in an out of the way spot
- DO – ensure identification and microchip tags are securely affixed to your dog’s harness before you leave to come home from finalizing your adoption.
- DO – walk around your immediate neighbourhood with your dog for a quiet, relaxing bonding experience. Try and avoid high traffic areas, children’s playgrounds, off-leash dog parks and houses with dogs who may tend to lunge and bark at their fence. Give the dog time to become accustomed to all the newness around her now forever home, before introducing her to these more challenging environments.
- DO – remember to praise, reward and/or reinforce behaviour that you want repeated. Learning is happening, whether you are doing a formal training session or not. Positive feedback is not only a significant motivator, it’s also a relationship and confidence builder.
- DO – obtain a city/municipal license for her which can be done in person, over the phone, or online
- DO – make a point of knowing where the closest Emergency Veterinary Hospital is located
- DO – contact the shelter or rescue if you have follow up questions about your newly adopted dog.