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Bringing Your Puppy Home

Bringing your puppy home for the first time is an exciting step in your journey together.  Ensuring that you have prepared your home thoroughly and thought through how to manage the first few days, can help to make the transition as smooth and stress free as possible, both for you and your new addition.

Before you collect your puppy:

  • Check what the breeder will be giving you when you collect your puppy. Many breeders will give you a blanket or a toy which has been kept in the puppy pen.  Having an item which has a familiar scent, or smell of their mother, can help a puppy feel more secure when they come home to a new environment.
  • You should check whether the breeder will give you a small supply of puppy food, and what this will be. Even if you intend to change your puppy’s diet later, providing your puppy is healthy it is best to keep them on the food they are used to for at least a fortnight. Suddenly switching food can cause stress and an upset tummy. You must ensure your puppy has settled in well before implementing any change, which must be done very gradually.  Please speak to your veterinary surgeon if you are concerned by your dog’s diet, feeding or stools.

Preparing the home:

  • Think about where your puppy will spend most of his day. Is this area clear of anything you don’t want him to chew?  Can he have constant access to water in this place?  Will you be able to keep an eye on him throughout the day to aid toilet training?  Is there space for him to sleep and play?
  • Setting up strategically placed baby gates around the house can help to keep your puppy contained and away from areas which might not be puppy proof.
  • Crate training provides your puppy with a cosy space where he feels safe and can rest undisturbed. The crate must be big enough for him to freely stand up and turn around. Not all dogs will accept being shut in a crate straight away; you will need to spend time teaching your puppy to enjoy his time in the crate. Filling it with a cosy bed, keeping his toys and feeding him meals inside the crate can help this process.  If your puppy is happy to spend short periods of time in a crate/pen, it will aid the toilet training process, and ensure he can’t get up to mischief if you aren’t watching.
  • Think about where you will keep the crate/bed in the house. It must be easily accessible to your puppy. It’s a good idea to position it in a place where you spend a lot of time, but away from the traffic of a busy household.  That way when he spends time in the crate, he won’t be excluded but will have enough peace and quiet to relax and sleep.  You also want to ensure you have easy access to the garden from this location, to aid with toilet training.
  • Puppies need toys! It’s a good idea to have a range of toys made from different textures i.e. some soft toys, rope toys, rubber toys, chew toys etc. Your puppy must always have access to these toys to play with and chew on.  Ensure all toys are size appropriate for your breed of puppy, and don’t have any small pieces that can be chewed off and swallowed.
  • Consider purchasing a Snuggle Puppy, which helps your puppy for the first few nights when acclimatising to sleeping away from the litter. These include a heat pack and a pulsating ‘heart’ which mimics a heartbeat.
  • Many puppies settle better with the assistance of the Adaptil range of pheromone products. Have a look at their website (https://www.adaptil.com/uk/) for the complete range.

The journey home:

  • Ensure you have lots of towels as there’s chance your puppy will eliminate or vomit on the way home.
  • Your puppy may go in a carrier, but our preference is for him to sit on the passenger seat on someone’s lap, so they feel more secure. If you are concerned about safety, then they may sit in the carrier (which is secured by the seat belt) or next to a passenger on the back seat or be on a car harness.
  • If your puppy is travelling a fair distance you may need to stop for a toilet break. Don’t put your puppy on the ground but you may see if they will eliminate on a puppy pad in the boot of the car.

First few days home

  • Don’t expect too much from your puppy in the first few days. They will sleep an awful lot and the most important thing is to encourage them to feel settled and get them used to a routine.  Remember some puppies don’t even have any bladder awareness at eight weeks, so don’t get frustrated if you have accidents in the home for the first few days, this is perfectly normal.
  • Socialisation is vital but do make sure your puppy has plenty of quiet time and opportunity to rest and sleep in the first few days.
  • It is imperative your puppy experiences no stress in immediate days after coming home, so please shield from emotional harm, including very loud noises.

Daily routine:

  • Looking after a puppy can feel like a full-time job! You will need to make sure he gets plenty of stimulation, as well as opportunities to interact and play throughout the day.  He will also need a lot of sleep and it’s essential that he gets time out to rest.  This can be tricky if you have children, they will need to learn to give the puppy space when required.
  • If you go to work, consider whether your puppy will need someone to spend time with while you aren’t there. Whilst puppies do need to learn to be left home alone in your absence, the length of time will need to be introduced gradually. A puppy who is left home alone all day is likely to become bored and stressed. You will also need someone to let your puppy out in the garden for regular toilet breaks, until their bladder has developed, and they have become house trained.

Night-time routine:

  • The first few nights can be a big adjustment for your puppy. Consider where you want your puppy to sleep.  If it’s downstairs, you will need to consider sleeping downstairs near your puppy. While you should avoid having the puppy sleep on the bed with you, being close to their crate will be reassuring for the first few nights until they are settled into their new home.
  • Try to keep your puppy awake for an hour before bedtime, to make sure he is adequately tired.
  • Ensure he has been to the toilet as close to bedtime as possible. Some puppies may need to relieve themselves again in the night; you will need to be prepared to get up and let them out for a toilet break, until their bladder/bowels have developed enough to hold through the night.

Multi-pet households:

  • If you have other pets in the house, you will need to carefully consider how you introduce them to your new arrival, to make it a positive experience for all.
  • Existing pets may not always appreciate the arrival of a bouncy new puppy, so you must ensure they have a space to retreat and time away from the puppy if need be.
  • You must always be around to supervise their interactions until both the puppy and the existing pet are settled and calm in each other’s company.

 

Pet Necessities Professional Dog Training – Egham, Surrey.

www.petnecessities.co.uk. 07969 997 272. training@petnecessities.co.uk.

https://www.facebook.com/petnecessitiestraining/

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How Can Tellington TTouch Help My Dog?

Written by Kerry Jenkinson, Tellington TTouch Practitioner, P2

Tellington TTouch Practitioner

Using TTouch Bodywork and Groundwork on a regular basis can help your dog to become a more calm and confident canine, building a deeper relationship with your dog based on co-operation, trust and understanding.

Observing your dog on a daily basis will help you notice any subtle changes that might occur both physically and mentally. Postural changes can happen when tension is carried throughout your dog’s body.  This can be as a result of a medical problem, injury, change of circumstance or emotional upheaval etc.

So what can you do to help your dog feel more comfortable and confident and help them cope in situations that they may find stressful?

Flat Hand Assessments

You can start to gather information as to where your dog may be carrying tension throughout his body by making a flat hand assessment.

Instead of just stroking your dog, mindfully move your hands over his body and watch for any reaction that he may express.  These can be very subtle from looking at the area that you are touching to placing his nose on your hand.  He may sit or lie down on the area that you have just stroked in order to stop the contact or he might start to play or fool around as a distraction to avoid contact.

If this doesn’t work he may become very still (freeze) and his eyes become hard and staring.  This is a definite sign to stop what you are doing as his next move might be to snap at you.  Other signs are more obvious – curling a lip or growling.  This is an escalation of their behaviour which can occur if we ignore the more subtle signs that they express.

Using the back of your hand for this process is less threatening for your dog and enables you to feel any changes in temperature.

Coat changes such as the hair standing up or looking dull, dry and scurfy or a change in colour can be caused by a lack of circulation and tension.  Check how easy it is for your dog to pick his feet up by lifting each leg slowly.  If the foot feels rooted to the ground he may be carrying tension in his shoulders or hindquarters.  You can also check the wear on his pads and nails of his feet as this will show you where he puts the most pressure.

Bodywork

Using your hands to make specific gentle movements of the skin on your dog’s body will stimulate the nervous system into responding in a positive way.  It will help to release tension and improve circulation, reducing levels of stress and helping him to relax.  Some simple ear work, making long gentle strokes from the base of the ear to the tip can help to lower heart and respiration rates.

I found this particularly useful at the vets where my dog, Wilbur, becomes a quivering wreck.  Being able to calmly work his ears lowered his stress levels and stopped him from shaking.  This has also been useful for both my dogs as they are worried by fireworks.  Together with ear work a body wrap (stretchy elastic bandage), put on around their body so that it is just in contact, gives them a sense of security helping them to settle.

Sarah (owner, Pet Necessities Training & Behaviour) also found this helpful with a previous dog, Billy. He had become blind and was becoming distressed at night and would pace when Sarah went to bed.  He was also concerned about being left and suffered an increase in anxiety due to his loss of sight.  I showed Sarah some bodywork which she did with him in the evening which helped him to relax.  Sarah used an Equafleece T-Shirt (instead of the body wrap as this can be left on when you are not there), which made a big difference to Billy; he would wear this whenever he had to be left.

Groundwork

Groundwork has many benefits for our dogs and for ourselves.  It can teach us to really observe our dogs and see how their posture affects how they think and feel, allowing us to pick up on the small subtle changes that can lead to reactive behaviour.  Groundwork will also teach us the subtle ways that we can influence our dogs as well as patience and understanding.

Dogs take information in through sight, smell, hearing and touch.  If a dog is carrying tension in his body it will inhibit his ability to learn and take on new information and can heighten or decrease his senses (e.g., sight, smell and hearing).  This can cause him to react to situations rather than make a calm and considered choice.  Our posture and how we react can also influence our dogs and so learning how to change ourselves and release tension that we may be holding and transmitting down the lead will be really beneficial.

The groundwork side of TTouch is useful for helping to build confidence and improve focus.  Taking our dogs over a series of low level obstacles, poles and different surfaces will give them different experiences and can show them and you their potential to be successful rather than their limits.  Asking your dog to move in a slow measured way, rather than rushing, teaches them to be better balanced with more body awareness as well as improving coordination and athletic ability.

Having a dog that pulls on the collar and lead can be very frustrating for both the dog and you.  It will also set up areas of tension in the neck, shoulders and hindquarters. With the use of bodywraps (stretchy elastic bandages), we can improve proprioception (awareness of where his limbs are and coordination), and also give a feeling of security, helping to calm and settle your dog.  The bodywrap can also be part of the process in introducing your dog to wearing a harness.

Wearing a harness can be more beneficial for dogs that pull on the collar and lead as it takes the pressure off of the dogs neck.  Using two points of contact on the harness makes it easier to help your dog be in better balance and stops any damage that may be done to their neck with constant pulling.

Moving them slowly through the groundwork on the harness and two points of contact will engage their brain and start to help them focus.  It will improve paw/eye coordination (great for dogs that do agility), as they are asked to move mindfully over and through the obstacles.  Doing some groundwork will encourage flexibility and suppleness which will help put less strain and wear and tear on your dog’s joints.

Groundwork can be a safe way to introduce dogs to situations that they find stressful.  If they are worried by other dogs or indeed people, these can then be introduced during groundwork in a controlled and stress free way so building the dog’s confidence and ability to cope with these situations.

Ten minutes of groundwork can be much more beneficial for dogs that are on limited exercise as it is mentally stimulating and won’t tire them out physically.  Sessions can be kept short and the introduction of some bodywork (TTouches), whilst doing the groundwork will help your dog to relax and release any tension that they may be carrying.

My previous dog Trevor was attacked whilst we were out walking.  He was very distressed and very sore from being pulled around by the other dogs.  I used specific TTouches (bodywork) to help with any bruising that had occurred and to help reduce his stress levels.  He didn’t want to go out for walks as he was very concerned about meeting other dogs.  To help build his confidence I set up some groundwork for him.  This proved really beneficial and within a few days he was happily going for walks again and interacting with other dogs.

Together with the Bodywork you can help to release tension and show your dog how to change their posture and to move in a more functional and balanced way. This will help to alleviate stress on joints as well as giving them a sense of well-being physically, mentally and emotionally.

 

For further information on our Tellington TTouch Workshops, please click here.

For the date of our next TTouch Workshop, please click here.

Pet Necessities Professional Dog Training – Egham, Surrey.

www.petnecessities.co.uk. 07969 997 272. training@petnecessities.co.uk.

https://www.facebook.com/petnecessitiestraining/

 

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Top Tips for Having a Happy & Well-Behaved Dog

Here’s our top dog training tips:

    • Never shout at, hit, yank, push or pull your dog.
    • Training must be fun! If you are not enjoying it then neither is your dog … he should see it as a game.
    • Make sure you always have your dog’s attention before you ask for any command. If he is not looking at you then there is a high chance that he is not listening to you.
    • Vary the commands you are practising, never expect your dog to repeat the same exercise more than a few times in a row.
    • Use toys as well as food rewards in your training. Vary the toys, types of treats and the delivery of the reward during a training session … keep him guessing! Remember that once your dog has learnt a behaviour there is no need to reward every time; instead save your rewards for his best attempts. Grade your rewards so he gets the high-value titbits for putting in extra effort.
    • Practise your training out on a walk. You cannot expect your dog to perform perfectly in a public situation if you only practise in the security of your back garden. Also appreciate that dogs learn by situational learning, so your dog may see “sit” indoors as a completely different behaviour to “sit” in the park.
    • If you are not in the mood to train, don’t train! Your dog will pick up on your negative mood and won’t respond as you hope, causing a vicious circle and resulting in a frustrating training session.
    • Always end each training session on a positive note and before your dog gets tired and de-motivated.
    • Lower your expectations in environments with lots of distractions.
    • Remember that any attention your dog receives from you is reward; so, what you may see as a scolding, your dog may see as a game! Try to ignore unwanted behaviours and only give your dog attention when he is offering a behaviour you like.
    • Make sure your dog is receiving an adequate amount of mental and physical stimulation. Mental stimulation involves your dog using his brain, e.g. using food dispensing toys, playing, training, searching for food etc … the list is endless.
    • Practise, practise, practise! You cannot expect your dog to learn a behaviour after just a few repetitions, you must carry out a small amount of training each day for the rest of your dog’s life to keep the behaviours fluent.

 

Pet Necessities Professional Dog Training – Egham, Surrey.

www.petnecessities.co.uk. 07969 997 272. training@petnecessities.co.uk.

https://www.facebook.com/petnecessitiestraining/

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