Blog posts tagged with ‘socialisation’

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7 Tips To Help A Rescue Dog Settle Into Their New Home

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This is an image of a dog running.

Guest blog by Richard Cross creator of The Dog Clinic which helps dog parents build a strong bond with their pet through positive training. Learn more at: www.thedogclinic.com

Adoption is a wonderful moment for any rescue dog – but it can also be a stressful time. The dog must adapt to a new home and family and may still feel somewhat stressed from shelter life.

There are many ways to help your dog settle in – here are seven of the best methods, along with tips for making the transition as smooth as possible.

Guest blog by Richard Cross creator of The Dog Clinic which helps dog parents build a strong bond with their pet through positive training. Learn more at: www.thedogclinic.com

Adoption is a wonderful moment for any rescue dog – but it can also be a stressful time. The dog must adapt to a new home and family and may still feel somewhat stressed from shelter life.

There are many ways to help your dog settle in – here are seven of the best methods, along with tips for making the transition as smooth as possible.

1. Prepare your home for the new arrival

It’s natural for your dog to feel anxious when you bring them home. Remember, they may have been in a shelter or foster care for a while, which can be a stressful environment and quite different to their new home.

Some basic preparation can help your dog to feel more relaxed. Make sure you buy a high-quality dog bed (memory foam is a great choice), plenty of fun toys and other essential items. It’s also a good idea to find a quiet space to put their bed, so your pet has a place to rest without being disturbed.

Find out which food your dog was eating at the shelter, so you can buy the same brand and type. While you may want to change their food, this can cause stomach upsets if you do so too quickly. Instead, gradually change their food over the course of a week or two, so the dog’s digestive system has time to adapt.

It’s also vital that the garden and home are secured. Check for any gaps in hedges or broken fence panels, as an adopted dog is at risk of trying to run away. Make sure any toxic plants are removed from both the garden and house.

2. Keep introductions calm

Ideally, an adopted dog should meet all members of the family before you bring them home. This includes any other dogs you have at home.

Even if your dog has already met the family, it’s important that the first interactions in the home are calm and quiet. Too much excitement can be stressful and difficult for your dog to cope with.

To avoid unnecessary anxiety, ask family members to sit down quietly. Allow the dog to approach them when they feel ready and give them space when they move away. This can be difficult for children, so try to explain why a calm introduction is important. Reward your dog with treats and praise for calm behaviour.

Note: Be extra careful when introducing your pet to other dogs. It’s best to do so in a neutral environment, such as a local park with lots of space. Allow your dogs to greet each other in their own time – don’t force interactions.

3. Pay attention to rules and advice provided by the shelter

Some dogs have behavioural issues and while these can be improved through positive training techniques, this takes time and patience. The stress of moving home can also temporarily worsen a dog’s issues.

The shelter should inform you of any behavioural issues your dog has. They may also recommend ways to handle them, including management strategies. It’s vital to take this advice seriously.

If your pet has issues with resource guarding, for example, don’t be tempted to “test” whether you can take away a toy. If you’ve been told that they are defensive around other dogs, don’t invite a friend over with their pet. Ignoring the rescue centre’s advice is a common reason for dogs being returned to the shelter.

4. Delay guests until your dog is more settled

It’s natural to want friends and family to meet your new dog. Many of them will also be desperate to say hello to your new canine companion!

Unfortunately, greeting strangers is a stressful experience for a dog, even if they might appear happy and excited at the time.

For this reason, avoid having guests until your dog is more settled in their new home. This allows the dog time to bond with their new family and learn the routine.

5. Establish a consistent routine

Dogs thrive on consistency and routine. The faster you establish this for your dog, the faster they’ll settle in.

Aside from avoiding guests, you should feed, walk and toilet your dog at roughly the same time each day. Having a consistent time to go to bed and wake up can also help your dog to settle overnight.

6. Always use positive training techniques

It’s important to develop a strong bond with your new dog. Without trust and love, it’s impossible for your pet to settle into their new home.

That’s why positive training is such an important technique. The basic idea is to reward the “desired” behaviour, while ignoring your dog when they do something wrong. Over time, your dog learns which behaviours are rewarding, and you don’t damage the bond you’re building by shouting or scolding.

Management is also essential when training your dog. This involves minimising the opportunities they have to perform unwanted behaviours.

Here are a few examples:

  • If your dog barks from the front window at people walking by, use a baby gate to keep them in a different room when you’re not around.
  • If your dog likes to chew shoes, put them in a cupboard and provide more appropriate chew toys.
  • If your dog tries to take food off the table, put them in their crate (assuming  your dog been properly introduced to a crate) or in a different room during meal times.

While this might seem like avoiding the problem, management is a great way to prevent behaviours from becoming habits

7. Be patient

It can take months for a rescue dog to feel fully settled into their new home, especially if they’ve had negative experiences in the past. Be patient during the settling in period, as becoming frustrated will just make life more difficult for your dog.

It’s also important to remember that all dogs are different. Some might want to explore their new home and investigate their new family members. Others may just want to lay down and sleep. Whatever your dog’s personality, the key is to provide a relaxed, loving and calm environment.

Gaining the trust of a rescue dog requires patience and a lot of love – but it’s worth the effort.

Summary

While adopting a rescue dog is an exciting time, it’s important to remember that your new family member is likely to be stressed, anxious and unsettled.

You can help them to settle in by creating a calm and comfortable environment. Treating them with kindness, patience and consistency will also help you build a strong bond and partnership with them.

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Socialising your puppy

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This is an image of two puppies playing

Positive socialisation practices are critical for your puppy

Dogs that are under socialised may become shy, fearful and sometimes even aggressive.  They may not develop the appropriate canine body language necessary to interact well with other dogs or know how to behave appropriately around people.  In contrast, puppies that have been well socialised generally grow into happy, confident dogs.   

Positive socialisation practices are critical for your puppy

Dogs that are under socialised may become shy, fearful and sometimes even aggressive.  They may not develop the appropriate canine body language necessary to interact well with other dogs or know how to behave appropriately around people. 

In contrast, puppies that have been well socialised generally grow into happy, confident dogs.   

The socialisation period

Puppies go through various developmental stages on their way to adulthood.  The ‘socialisation period’ lasts from around 3 to 12 weeks of age, and during this time, puppies are more sensitive to socialisation.  The experiences your puppy encounters during this stage, negative or positive, can have a profound effect on their behaviour later in life.

While the socialisation period is a critical developmental stage for your puppy, socialisation should also continue throughout your dog's life.                                       

Positive socialisation

Socialising your puppy involves introducing them to a whole range of new experiences including meeting different types of people, dogs, other animals, places, smells and noises.  It’s important that these interactions are a positive experience for your puppy.  Introduce them to new situations gently and reward them for calm behaviour. 

Puppy School training classes are a great way to start socialising and training your puppy.  Here you can get good advice on basic training, puppies can meet a wide range of other puppies of all shapes and sizes, as well as different people. 

Tips for choosing a Puppy School class

Puppy classes should be well structured and organised and not just a free play session for puppies, as this can frighten young or less confident puppies.  Off-lead play should be carefully managed and supervised with just a few puppies off lead for short periods.  The trainer should use positive reinforcement training methods.  In addition, class sizes should be limited to no more than 10 puppies.

Veterinarians can often recommend where to find good puppy classes, and a local veterinary clinic may well run one.

                                          

Socialising with other animals       

Remember that socialisation is not simply a matter of letting your puppy play with other dogs.

It’s very important that you select the dogs that you allow your puppy to interact with and supervise play sessions making sure all dogs involved are behaving appropriately.  As your puppy’s guardian you must make sure there is no bullying occurring either by your puppy or to them.  If either situation is occurring, simply end the play session and try again another day.  

Until your puppy is fully protected by vaccination, they should only mix with dogs whose vaccinations are fully up to date and should not be taken to parks or areas where other dogs have toileted.                                                                                                           

Introduce your puppy to other animals such as cats at an early age.  To a small puppy, an adult cat may be terrifying, so supervise these meetings to make sure they are positive encounters for both your puppy and the other animal.

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Bringing your kitten home

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This is an image of two kittens playing.

Settling in

Lots of kittens can seem timid when they first move to a new home.  It's understandable, as leaving the only family they've ever known to start another life with a new family is a pretty big deal!  Here we offer our tips for helping your new arrival feel at home in no time.

Settling in

Lots of kittens can seem timid when they first move to a new home.  

It's understandable, as leaving the only family they've ever known to start another life with a new family is a pretty big deal!  Here are our tips for helping your new arrival feel at home in no time.

Take it slow

Don't be in a rush to remove the cat carrier your kitten was transported in.  Instead, leave it in the corner of the room where your kitten will sleep to create a familiar refuge.  Initially, a new kitten might hide quite a bit until they become more accustomed to their new home.  Don’t worry, it won’t be long before they will be out and about exploring their new surroundings.

Essential items

Provide your kitten with a litter tray on one side of the room and a fresh bowl of food and water on the other.  You might like to also supply a few other hiding places such as a cardboard box (a perennial kitten favourite!) to help your kitten feel safe and secure. 

Leave your kitten's food and water bowls, as well as litter tray in the same spot so they can be located easily.

Keep things quiet

In order for your kitten to adapt to a new environment and settle into a regular feeding and sleeping routine, the household should be kept relatively quiet and visitors kept to a minimum for the first two weeks.  Children should be reminded that the new kitten needs lots of rest and should not be over-handled. 

Wait before making introductions

If you have other pets at home, it’s best not to introduce them just yet.  Provide your kitten with their own space for the first few days or weeks.  This will help boost your kitten's confidence levels.

Exploring the home

Once your kitten has settled in, and developed a regular routine of eating, drinking and using the litter tray, they will become curious about their new home and be keen to start to explore.  Ensure this is well supervised, and limit your kitten to the areas of your home where you spend the most time.  This provides the opportunity to reinforce desirable behaviour.                 

Finally, remember not to let your kitten outside until they are fully vaccinated.  If they arrived fully vaccinated, it's still best to keep your kitten indoors for the first 2 to 3 weeks.

Other pets in the home can then be introduced very slowly and only under close supervision.

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Socialising your kitten

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This is an image of two kittens playing.

Positive socialisation practices are critical for your kitten                                                              

What your kitten experiences in their first few months will influence the rest of their life.  In fact, their early experiences shape their future character.  Cats that are under socialised may become shy and fearful.  In contrast, kittens that have been well socialised generally grow into happy, confident adults.   

Positive socialisation practices are critical for your kitten                                                              

What your kitten experiences in their first few months will influence the rest of their life.  In fact, their early experiences shape their future character.  Cats that have been well socialised generally grow into happy, confident adults.  

Socialising your kitten involves introducing them to a whole range of new experiences including meeting different types of people, other animals, places, smells and noises. 

Positive socialisation

Be sure to present socialisation experiences in a gentle way that helps your kitten become accustomed to them.  Reward your kitten for calm behaviour and move only at a pace your kitten can handle.  If your kitten seems nervous or fearful, that's your cue to slow things down.  The aim is for new experiences to be presented in a positive way so that your kitten can develop into a relaxed, confident cat.  

Remember that it's still important that socialisation continues throughout your cat's life. 

Here are some typical situations in which kittens should be socialised:

Environment

  • Drive in the car
  • Trips to the vet.  Have your kitten weighed, handled and restrained for a health check
  • Using a cat carrier
  • At home, exposure to different floor surfaces, steps, tools, cleaning, working, music, pram
  • Outside (while on a harness) exposure to bicycles, gardening

Other animals

  • Other cats and kittens (all well-socialised and fully vaccinated)
  • Dogs (only cat-friendly ones)
  • Farm animals
  • Birds (in a manner where the bird is safely able to get away)
  • Any other animal they may come in contact with during their lifetime

Situations

  • Visitors in the home,
  • Being groomed
  • Having a picture taken
  • Being held (in a manner where they are never afraid and never dropped)
  • Tooth brushing
  • Nails clipped
  • Playing with a variety of toys

People

  • Children
  • People wearing glasses, hats
  • People with beards
  • Loud and timid people 

By providing your kitten with a wide range of positive socialisation experiences, you'll help them develop into a sociable and well-adjusted cat.

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