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When bringing home your new puppy or adult dog, please keep in mind how you are being perceived because first impressions are very important on determining how long it will take for your dog to adjust to it’s new home. Start immediately by setting ground rules, establishing boundaries, and enforcing limitations. Become the alpha leader by setting a schedule and controlling food, security, walks and movement inside and outside of the home. Be sure to provide adequate exercise, discipline, and affection (in that order of importance) all while maintaining a calm and assertive attitude. Below are a few pointers to help establish yourself as the alpha.

  • Be patient. This is a brand new experience for you and the dog. Do not expect your new pet to be the same animal you saw at the shelter or in another home. This is why I always say to take your time and pay attention to how the animals treat each other and those around them to help determine the right level energy dog to bring home. It often takes at least 2 weeks or more for an animal to get comfortable in a new home. Expect to be tested and be prepared to respond timely and accordingly and soon you will get to see their true personality.
  • Do not treat your animal like it is human or can understand human traits. Dogs live in the moment. They don’t carry guilt about the past or worry about the future. Do not ever assume that a certain behavior you see is because the dog is “getting back at you.” This mentality is detrimental to the dog and the relationship you are trying to build.
  • Try to use your energy and body language to get your point across before you resort to using your voice. Dogs sense each other’s energy first before they even look at or listen to each other. If you’ve ever noticed, friendly dogs smell each other first and aggressive dogs bypass the sense of smell altogether and stare each other down while maintaining a very upright stance. Pay attention to your own energy as the dog knows your intent long before you do.
  • There will be accidents in the house, expect them, but do not ever over react or punish a dog for something it has done after the act has been completed. Dogs must be corrected while in the act if they are ever to understand the difference between right and wrong. Be patient and set everyone up for success by establishing a schedule to take the dog out to relieve itself and for playtime.
  • Provide a “safe” place for the dog by setting up a crate in the main living area of the home. Never force them in, instead use a leash or treats to engage them and eventually lead them in. Start to associate a command as you do this so eventually the command is all you need. Teach the dog to relax in there by allowing ample time for him to relax before locking it up or leaving the home. Ensure that there is not enough room to use the bathroom as well as sleep. Dogs will never willingly sleep in their own waste so take advantage of the crate to also house train.

Dogs maintain a natural pack order and follow that mentality each and every day. They look to their immediate alpha and learn to follow them and find peace in knowing that their environment is safe and secure. It is imperative that we humans understand this and establish ourselves as the alpha leader of the pack. We also need to understand that every capable human member of the family must also understand how to fill that role should the need arise to maintain order. In doing so, you can expect your dog to willingly follow your every command, learn to stay calm at all times, learn to be a pleasant companion and friend to others, and they will love you for it, unconditionally.