Rehoming a Shelter Dog – Preparing Your Home and Garden Before You Bring Your New Dog Home

If you are serious about rehoming an unwanted dog, please read the following before you bring your new dog home. It will save you a lot of money and distress if you take some simple precautions. You have done the right thing by choosing a shelter dog but you have to remember the dog doesn’t know this. If its had a history of abuse or neglect or both you are going to have to prove yourself as a competent pack leader it can trust. This will take time and patience from you but it is well worth the effort.

Choose which rooms your dog will be allowed in and make sure all the family agree on this. It is OK to ban your dog from certain rooms if you are worried about dirty paw prints or any other mess. However, you will have to allow your dog in to at least one area of your home. This will help your dog settle quicker. If you leave it outside alone on its first night, it is more than likely to bark, howl and/or run away.

Make a bed for your dog from old towels or use an old one. Don’t worry about buying it a new, expensive bed at the moment. It may soil its bed or rip up the bedding from stress. Place some toys, treats and other things you think the dog will like near its bed. Normally a dog won’t soil in the area where it sleeps but stressed and unhealthy dogs may do so you might be better off letting it live in the laundry for a while.

Get a water bowl and food bowl ready. When your dog arrives home, give it some food but not a lot.

Be prepared, the dog may scratch at the door and damage it. It might try to get out or it may want to be closer to you. Fix thick cardboard to the door along the edge where it opens. This will have to be replaced and may make a mess at first but it will save the paintwork and you a lot of time and money.

A new dog may go to the toilet inside because it hasn’t been trained properly or because it wants to leave its mark. There is information at regarding toilet training which will be useful. In particular, cleaning up the mess and not making the dog more anxious which may cause it to repeat the behaviour.

Don’t leave the dog inside on its own for very long. You are only asking for trouble. I did this once and came home to find every curtain ripped and shredded. Remember your new dog may not have had much experience being inside a nice home. The best place is to leave it in a room where it can’t do a lot of damage like the laundry or bathroom, but don’t forget to remove all chewable and poisonous objects.

Check the fences then check them again. I know of a dog that jumped on the rubbish bins, the neighbour’s garage and then got itself stuck in a tree when it first arrived home. Don’t ever under-estimate how high or low a dog can get to run away. Remember, it is only running away from stress and loneliness. You have done the right thing by rehoming it but it will need some time to adjust.

If you are worried about the dog digging out, place dog proof wire along the bottom of the fence about 30cm out from the fence and about 30cm up the fence. If you are worried about the dog jumping over the fence, place a piece of string 1/3 of the way down the fence and 30cm out from the fence. This will break the dog’s line of sight and it will think it won’t be able to get over the fence. Remove anything from the fence, shed or garage that the dog can use to jump on and get over the fence. These things can be taken down later on.

Remove anything and everything from the yard where the dog will be staying. Again this is only temporary but you don’t want the dog developing the habit of destroying your property. This would include shoes, boots, mats, pot plants, garden furniture, hoses, garden tools, ornaments and any other feature that can be chewed or ripped up.

You can use strong pepper or citrus smells to keep dogs away from certain areas. This may include gardens or verandahs. Some shelter dogs are used to going to the toilet on concrete because they’ve had little choice to go anywhere else. A light sprinkling of red pepper powder will deter the dog from going near this area but remember to take your dog to the area where you want it to go so it has an alternative.

Make a safe area outside for your dog. Wild dogs are den dwellers so a kennel would be the perfect choice. If not, a dry area with a bed off the ground is just as good. You may want the dog to make the choice, it after all has to sleep in the area and it will choose a place that it feels safest in.

Ask your neighbours to report to you any barking or howling that might have gone on while you are not home. Record the time and see if there’s a pattern. Ask them for help and to keep an eye on your new dog until it has settled in. If any problems occur, get onto a dog trainer straight away. Don’t allow your new dog to become aggressive or destructive. Don’t allow them to get worse because they won’t get better on their own.

For more information, please go to: http://www.messypawz.com. Sue Day is a dog behaviourist with experience in puppy training, dog agility, obedience, and re homing shelter dogs. Sue owns Messy Pawz Dog Training which advocates positive training methods. Sue has made a lot of information available for free on her website: http://www.messypawz.com.

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