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Thursday, August 7, 2008

NO FREE LUNCH, bringing your new boxer home

Hi Everyone!

This seems to be a common email that we have been sending out to new families over the last couple of weeks with their new boxers or boxers who have been in their home for some time.  Please remember boxers are a more dominant breed and it is important to deal with them as such.  Please read over the following and decide how you will put the advice in to practice to help with a smoother transition in to your new home.  For some dogs this whole approach is not fully needed but it's good to take pieces of this and remember it.

The best way to describe what your boxer needs is "NO FREE LUNCH".  I strongly suggest the entire family start a training program with your new boxer.  A training class not only will help with basic obedience but also to help build the bond and pack order that every family needs with their new addition.  Please research your trainers well, ask your vet, rescue volunteer etc. for recommendations.  I would highly recommend reading Cesar Milan's books, Cesar's Way and Being Your Dog's Pack Leader.  Both books are well worth their weight in gold and will give you a lot of insight.

Your boxer needs to know where she belongs in the pack and that is at the bottom.  She needs rules, boundaries and structure.  She needs to work for everything and receive no free anything (affection, treats etc).

She should be crated at all times in the beginning unless an adult is present to watch her behaviour and actions.  This is not a punishment but just a safety measure.  This will help with house training and also teaching your new addition boundaries and house rules.

If crating is an issue then start feeding her in it, throw cookies in etc.  Get her going in on her own, everytime she goes in attach a word, house, crate etc. to it.  So that she learns the word/command to the crate.  Praise her when she is in it.  For more advice on crate training please ask.

When out she is in work mode, there's no free time for her.  Although the kennel is not the best place it is very structured.  You wake up, some one brings you food, you are taken out, you are brought food, you go out again and you go to bed.  Not much time to think for yourself and that is something your new boxer should continue not to be allowed to do.  To live in a structured world for so long and then be allowed so much freedom can be very overwhelming.

Structure her day, out of the crate for a bathroom break, breakfast back in you crate.  Out of crate for a walk and work time, back in crate.  Out of crate for some free time with mom in the livingroom (during this time she should not be given free run of the house) back in crate etc.

Touch equals praise to a dog so make sure if she is growling, barking etc. you are not touching her.  Touching her to try and quiet her or soothe her is actually telling her it's okay, good girl, this is a situation you should be barking in or a person you should be growling at.  Keep a leash on her and if she is barking, growling anything like that you have the leash to pull on not the collar because grabbing the collar causes you to touch her neck.

Praise only when she has done something you have asked her.  Dogs love our praise so use it to your advantage, it's a big power that you have.  She works for all attention, food etc.  If you want to stroke her it's on your terms.  Call her to you, stroke her.  Make her sit, stroke her etc. etc. She needs to work for it.  Make her sit for her dinner etc. etc.

When out on a walk she is not allowed to walk out in front.  Leaders walk out in front, followers follow.  This is harder then it sounds, I know that but she needs to learn to heal and stay with you or behind you.  Once she understands her place in the pack being allowed to walk out in front is different but if she does not understand this position allowing her to walk out in front can only add to her thought that she is the queen.  She can have a "free" walk but only when you allow it and not when the dog thinks it's time.

Please make sure not to "baby" your new addition, that is the last thing she needs at this time. She needs a lot of structure, rules and boundaries.  She needs to know her place in the pack and these all need to be set before you can relax and allow her the free run that she deserves but must earn.

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