Congratulations! You’ve just adopted a Sighthound! Now what? Well, here are some tips and tricks to start your new family member off on the right path. Take some time these first few days to get on the right path and the next 15 years will be a lot easier!
- Who's your daddy? -- Your SHUG dog will come home with a spiffy tag collar in basic black (it goes with everything--so LEAVE IT ON!) but you should also add your own tag with your info, too. We love the tags from Boomerang Tag Collars. While we're talking about names, if you're changing your dog's name (and even if you aren't) don't forget to play the Name Game! Grab a handful of treats or kibble while you're watching your favorite show. Every now and then, call your dog's name in a happy voice. When they look at you, toss them a treat. It's a great start to building a solid recall and a good way to begin bonding.
- The Drag Queen -- No, not that kind of drag! (Although we promise not to judge you if you paint his nails.) But what we really want to see dragging is the leash! For the first three days, keep your dog on leash inside and out. When they're outside--even in a fenced yard--hold onto the leash with the super-duper Sighthound Slipknot. When you're inside, just let your dog drag the leash. It makes it easy to grab them when needed--especially if they're a little shy. You can just step on the leash as they go by and not have to grab at their collar. But even more importantly, it makes you much more aware of their movements, which is a big help with house training. When your new dog leaves the room, chances are they're looking for a place to potty. As you catch the tail end of the leash as it rounds the corner, just walk them right outside. Remember to throw a party with lots of happy voice when they produce outside. If your neighbors aren't worried, you aren't doing it right.
- He isn't a rollercoaster -- but there is a height requirement to take this ride. We know the kids want to help, but this isn't the time. Even the big kids need to wait a while. For these first three days at least, the dog should only go out with mom or dad. Especially if you don't have any other pets, you need to learn the squirrel traps in the neighborhood and which yards harbor attractive nuisances on your new daily walk route. Once you've identified and clearly marked the fluffies, nutties, and barkers in your environment, walks will be a little more manageable.
- The natives are restless -- the native pets, that is. Take the time making introductions to your resident pets. We LOVE basket muzzles. Muzzle the dogs and keep them on leash. Make sure cats have an escape path. If possible, the first time butt-sniffing is best done outside. Depending on just how many dogs have in your pack, do introductions in small groups to avoid overwhelming the new guy. Keep muzzles on when you move everyone inside, and monitor group dynamics over the next few days. Are tails wagging? Ears relaxed? Encourage bonding with the pack so that your new pup will start to feel attached and part of the household.
- The house rules - Let your dog check out the house, room by room, allowing for the requisite sniffing and watching for potential pee stops. At first, you might keep your new pup leashed and tied to a belt loop. Fabulous for speedy bonding, right? 😉 When you’re not around, avoid returning to find surprises by keeping her confined using an ex-pen, crate, or baby gate. Let your dog EARN access to each part of the house.
- Beyond the house – Unfamiliar sights and sounds can give anybody a jolt, so be on alert when on new adventures. Keep the walks short at first, and bring another calm dog along, if possible. Who doesn’t appreciate moral support from a buddy? If your new dog’s level of uncertainty calls for extra care, consider using two martingale collars or a martingale with a harness. You may think you’re committing a fashion faux pas, but the dog won’t think less of you. Also, a carabineer can be double insurance that a leash clip won’t give way should a dog lunge after a squirrel. And always make a slip knot with the leash around your wrist.
- The Off Switch - When the going gets tough, the tough take a nap. If your dog is stressed or is making you stressed, you may both need a break. These are the times when crates come in to save the day. Even a 10-15 minute break in their crate with a peanut butter filled kong can be enough to help your dog calm down and feel more secure. Just open the door and walk away. Don't drag them out, let them come when they're ready. If you're using a collapsible wire crate, please use zip ties to reinforce the connections between the front and rear panels and the sides. This will make sure that the crate can't collapse in on the dog accidentally. And remember, if they're going to be unsupervised in the crate, remove the martingale (which can get caught) but leave on their tag collar.
In all this strictness with leashes and collars, don’t forget to give that new dog all the loving it needs!