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Doggie Honeymoon
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Friday, July 1, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY FRAN JEWELL

Bringing a new dog into your life is an exciting new time.  It’s so much fun to get to know your new dog – the things she likes or doesn’t like, what are special toys to her, going on walks and watching her explore her new environment with you and your family.

I especially remember bringing my Mavis home. She had lived with a breeder in a kennel for her first three years.  It was a gorgeous facility and she got plenty of exercise and training. But Mavis was one of many, didn’t get to go into the house and she had no one that she belonged to. It is so important for a German Shepherd to have that special person.

When I first brought her home, I had to teach her house training—no jumping on the furniture and no counter surfing. I also had to teach her that night was quiet time.  She was much like a puppy but she was three years old!

As I began to trust her to come to me in the backyard with the distraction of the other dogs, I decided it was time for a walk in the woods.  This was not something Mavis had experienced before, nor had she been a member of a pack before.  She had never played in a stream and surely never had the fun of scenting wild animals in the forest!

When we got to our secret walk area, we practiced a few “comes” on a long line before I went further. I wanted to make sure she would indeed come even with all this new distraction and scent overload.  Mavis was extremely food motivated and quick to return to me, so I let her off the leash to run.  To see her run free in the woods, explore the stream and be a member of my pack gave me a lump in my throat.  I felt so blessed that I could give her this experience and know that she would continue to have these experiences the rest of her life.

Anyone who has rescued a dog, regardless of the dog’s previous situation, knows that incredible feeling of being able to give this incredible lifestyle we have here to a new dog.

But what I tried to include here are some of the things that were critical to helping Mavis adjust.  The first SEVEN weeks you have a new dog in your home is called the “Honeymoon Period.” During that time some dogs will be angel dogs and lure you into believing that life will be very simple with your new pet. Other dogs are full of complicated behaviors and destruction.  When that seven weeks passes, that is when we will see the true nature of your new dog shine through.

What you must do is to make this transition period as comfortable as possible for your dog.  Comfortable doesn’t mean no rules and no boundaries. It doesn’t mean sleeping on the sofa or in your bed.  It means letting your dog know what the rules are at your house – no peeing in the house, no jumping on the counters. And your dog should understand he is to sit for everything he wants.

Establish your benevolent leadership in a manner the dog understands.  This is for the dog’s COMFORT.  Spoiling a new dog will not help her feel more comfortable. It will only confuse her and create stress. You can loosen up rules later on, once she has adjusted.

Mavis learned very quickly what the program was at my house. Her transition was pretty darn good and she became such a joy to live with!

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