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Canadian Registered Charity #85269-7440RR0001

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bringing Home Your New Additon

After You Adopt

Today’s the big day, your picking up your new addition! You already know how perfect they are going to be; they will listen when called, let you know when they need to go out, won’t think of chasing the family cat and will cuddle with you like they have always been a part of your family! If this is what you are expecting please read on because you may be in for a big surprise!

There’s a lot to remember when bringing your new addition home. Adopting a rescue dog is very rewarding and your new addition will show you unconditional love for opening up your heart and your home to them but there may be some bumps along the way. You and your family need to be prepared to work through these bumps before you decide to adopt, some dogs do fall right into family life as if they have always been with you, more often then not though it can take days, weeks and even months before your new addition settles into your family’s routine. Your new addition has already had a previous family and maybe more that has given up on them or has been unable to keep them; we want your family to be their forever one.

First thing, do you have everything ready for your new addition? Some basics: doggie bed, crate, food and water dishes, food, treats, leash, collar, a couple of toys and maybe a chewy bone. Maybe consider picking up Nature’s Miracle or another product that will help incase your new addition has an accident on the carpet. How about your house? What have you been told about your new boxer, are they are chewer, are they still puppyish in nature, are they arthritic etc? Take a look around; is there anything at boxer height that your boxer may like to chew on? Do you have Great Grandma’s vase sitting on the wobbly side table? Before your new addition arrives maybe get down on your hands and knees and see your house from a dogs height, you may find there are some things you want to move!

When your new addition arrives remember they are going to be confused and maybe a little frightened. Whether they’ve come from a foster home or the shelter they have left the safety they are used to. Many rescue dogs forget even the basic skills when they arrive in their new homes, you may find yourself starting with the basics, house training. Just like you would with a puppy take your new addition out every couple of hours and praise them when they go outside. Watch closely for signals, your new addition may try and tell you they need to go out but as the two of you bond you may not realize what they are trying to tell you. We do recommend using a crate with your boxer until you feel confident that they can be safely left loose in the house without you present.

You may want to show your new addition off to the world but please for the first little while keep your boxer’s days fairly quiet, a nice quiet walk around the block, a trip in the car and cuddles at home. Because your new addition may be confused or scared this is not the time to be taking them to the dog park or for that long walk along the sea wall. Your new addition needs time to adjust to both your family and their new surroundings before you start introducing others to them. We do not recommend a trip to the off leash dog park until you have completed a basic obedience class. Although your boxer may get along wonderful with your dog, the neighbors dog and the dogs in their foster home you don’t know how they will react in a larger pack setting. Obedience classes will help you and your boxer better understand how your boxer will interact in larger groups and help with socialization.

Before your new addition arrives you may want to research some local obedience trainers in your area. Find out how they teach and what technique you feel most comfortable using. The first couple of months are a great bonding time for you and your new boxer. Obedience can help build that bond, along with help with basic obedience skills and socialization. Remember boxers are very smart but very stubborn, you may feel after 1 session you would like to enroll in a second. Don’t forget other classes once a basic obedience class has been completed, such as: agility, rally obedience, tracking and Canine Good Citizen.

You may find when your new addition arrives that they are very needy, clingy and loving. Although we want you to show them all the love and attention that you can possibly give them, sometimes you need to use a bit of tough love in the beginning. Many boxers coming out of rescue will show some signs of stress when their new owner tries to leave them. This is understandable, they have already lost a family member, then their foster home or shelter volunteers, they don’t want to lose you too! This anxiety can not show itself at all or can last for days, weeks or even longer. In the beginning if you allow yourself to go to mush and give in to your new addition you could help to only worsen their anxiety about you leaving them and causing separation anxiety. We strongly recommend crate training your new addition. Whether coming from the shelter or from a foster home your boxer has been crated or has been working on crate training. Their crate is their safe place, it is where their world never changes, it’s their 4 walls (a lot like the safety of your bedroom). They’re blanket is in their, their toys and it’s a place that they receive a special treat (Kong with peanut butter, Nylabone etc). Once they are comfortable in their crate they won’t stress when you leave them alone, whether for 30 minutes or while you are away at work. The crate will help save your floor while you are house training, your blinds while your boxer pines at the window for your return and many other things. Please ask about crate training your new addition.

You’ve survived the first couple of days with your new addition and everything is going smoothly but you wake up to find your boxer coughing, what is it? Some of the dogs that come through rescue have contracted kennel cough. You may check your boxer’s papers and see that they have been vaccinated against bordatella so why are they coughing. The bordatella vaccine only covers a small amount of the kennel cough strains that are out there. The cold like condition can be contracted but it can take anywhere from 3-10 days before it will show itself. Don’t panic, kennel cough is very common and very treatable (although it is contagious so this is not the time to be bringing friends animals over etc). How do you know it’s kennel cough? Kennel cough usually starts with a dry hacking cough that can lead into a chesty cough and a runny nose, for dogs with other medical issues such as compromised immune systems it can lead into a more serious condition. A quick trip to the vet and some antibiotics is all most dogs need. Most vets will usually prescribe 10-14 days worth and although it may keep you awake at night don’t worry your boxer will soon be back to their self again.

So now you have some basic things to think about preparing for before your new addition arrives home. If you have any questions, now’s the time to ask! WBBR’s volunteers will be happy to help answer any questions or concerns you may have. We are also available after you adopt if a question or concern arises.

No Free Lunch. Rules for the First Days
At Home With Your Rescued Boxer

Please remember boxers are a fairly 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.

Any questions or comments, please contact your WBBR volunteer

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