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General Kennels advice

SO, YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADOPT A RESCUE DOG?

 

Adopting a Rescue Dog is an enormous responsibility and should be a commitment that has had a lot of time and thought gone in to it.

Owning a rescue dog can be immensely rewarding but at times can be challenging. The transition from kennels to a new home can be a stressful one for the dog, this isn’t always realised by new owners and unfortunately mistakes can be made early on within the dogs settling in period.

As an adopter of a rescue dog you are not getting the ‘perfect’ dog. A majority of dogs in kennels are in kennels for a reason and some may take more work than others.

The phrase ‘Honeymoon period’ is often used with rescue dogs and is used to describe the initial few weeks of having your new dog home. Generally the ‘Honeymoon period’ can last anything up to three weeks, within this period dogs can still be finding their feet and after a short period they may then begin to show unwanted or inappropriate behaviours once confidence has gained. This is why it is highly important that ground rules are established from the beginning and are always consistent to avoid any confusion for the dog. For some dogs it can take up to six months or even longer to completely settle in.

 

ARRIVING HOME…

Once you have arrived home from the Rehoming Centre, take your dog for a walk. This will help calm your dog before entering the house by providing him/her some exercise and the opportunity to toilet before entering your home.

If there are other family members in the house when you arrive it is important that they do not rush up to the dog but to initially ignore him/her and allow the dog to adapt to his/her new environment.

Once at your home, do not let your dog off the lead. Instead enter your house first then invite your dog in. Keep your dog on the lead and introduce him/her to the rooms you will be allowing them in and allow to investigate calmly.

Once introduced to house take your dog in to the garden (if you have one) still on the lead and once again allow to them to investigate. It is important that they stay on the lead so not to get over excited. If your dog toilets whilst in the garden please remember to praise your dog to let them know they have performed the behaviour in the correct place.

When finally bringing your dog in to the house it is advisable that you leave the lead on, this is called a ‘houseline’ this will help you teach your dog what is acceptable behaviour in your house and will help prevent any confrontation that may occur when doing so.

As exciting as it is to have your new dog home and you will want to show him/her off to family and friends, it is strongly advised that any introductions are held off for at least a week. Too much interaction can be too much and stressful for some dogs and it may lead to negative behaviour.

Any interactions by members in the home should be calm and brief, avoid getting your dog over excited, this includes initially playing with toys if you know your new dog to be toy orientated.

 

INTRODUCING YOUR NEW ADDITION TO YOUR EXISTING DOG

 

Your existing dog would have already met your new dog at the Rehoming Centre and got on well, but occasionally there may be a few teething problems whilst they establish their relationship with one another. It is common for some dogs to have an altercation between them, try not to be alarmed or intervene as this will make matters worse as the dogs are then not able to sort themselves out. Only intervene if you feel it is absolutely necessary to. Avoid going in with your hands to split them up as it is quite common to get bitten in the process from re-direction.

When you arrive home from the Rehoming Centre, before even entering your house take your dogs for a walk together, this will give them the opportunity to meet again on neutral territory.

A common example of jealousy is when you maybe fussing one of your dogs as you are sat on the sofa and your other dog approaches, the dog you are fussing may become still and uncomfortable with the approach and may even grumble at your other dog. If you see this happening, stand up and move away removing yourself from the situation. This will prevent conflict escalating and you have given a clear message to your dog that the behaviour is unfavourable.

 

HOUSE-RULES

 

It is important for dogs that there are house-rules and all members of the household agree and adhere to them, consistency is important as dogs will always attempt to push the boundaries and this will not help if one or more persons are not complying with what was agreed, it will also leave the dog confused and unaware of where they stand.

It is advisable that dogs are not allowed on any furniture as this will help prevent any problems if they were to occur. Generally allowing your dog on the furniture is not necessarily going to cause problems or lead them to believe they are in charge. However, if you inadvertently reinforce certain behaviours, you will be sending the wrong message. If your dog shows any aggression however slight when you attempt to sit down they should then be removed safely from the furniture. Any unwillingness to move as you approach, your dog should again be removed.

Ultimately this is your decision, but we highly advise that in the early stages as your dog is learning the rules that the ‘houseline’ is kept on so if you need to remove your dog from the furniture, you are doing so safely and avoiding any confrontation that may occur. By using the ‘houseline’ (you could also use treats to tempt them off)

You’re able to pick the end of the line up and call your dog off removing any confrontation that may escalate in to a problem.

You may be happy with your dog on the furniture, by invitation only. This is fine as long as your dog understands where they stand and there is no issue when you ask your dog to get off.

 

HOUSETRAINING

 

Although some of our dogs are from previous homes and may already be housetrained, occasionally if they have been in the kennel environment for a period of time they may get out of the toileting routine they had in their home.

For this reason, it is advisable to treat your new dog as though they are not housetrained.

Take your dog out regularly to toilet, always stay with them so that when they do toilet you are then able to reinforce this behaviour with plenty of praise.

It is likely that you may have a few accidents in the house for the first few days. If you witness any signs of behaviour that leads you to believe they are going to toilet attempt to interrupt the behaviour, then encourage them outside and praise when they have toileted. If you enter the room after your dog has toileted it is very important that you ignore what they have done. Telling them off for the behaviour after they have done it, especially if after a period of time will not achieve anything positive as they are unlikely to link the two behaviours, all you will be doing is telling the dog off when you have entered the room, in time this will compromise the relationship between you and your dog.

Always ensure you clean the area of which they have toileted on with a suitable cleaning product. DO NOT use any products that contain ammonia in its ingredients as this will make the area you have cleaned still attractive as ultimately you are relaying the scent for them to toilet on that area again. Instead use a suitable pet accident cleaning product or alternatively you can use non-biological washing detergent with warm water to clean the area.

There is no guessing  how long housetraining your dog will take, this generally depends on the dog and your training but improvement should be made quite quickly and keep continuing to improve but it is very important to remember that you praise the ‘good’ behaviour and ‘ignore’ the bad behaviour.

 

THE FIRST NIGHT (AND MAYBE A FEW MORE…)

 

The first night you have your new dog home can sometimes be a tricky one. Ideally your new dog should be in a separate room at night, this room particularly initially should be one room where the dog is less likely to do any damage (i.e. chew furniture), after time once your dog has settled in you may wish to allow them in your lounge or have the access to the whole of your downstairs but for now use the one room. Having them in a separate room  will help discourage separation problems longer term, your new dog needs to learn that being on their own for a few hours is okay and not that they are unable to cope without

To assist in getting your dog used to being alone at night you may initially want to leave a radio on quietly for them for some background noise. Leaving an old item of clothing of your own in their bed may be of comfort for some dogs.

For some dogs they will become bored at some point throughout the night, especially if they are young. To prevent boredom developing provide your dog with something to do to keep them entertained. This could include a number of ways i.e. using a ‘Kong’ toy, this is hardwearing rubber and is also hollow to allow you to fill or smear the inside with something tasty, and this could be peanut butter, marmite, soft cheese or dog gravy or alternatively be filled with a good brand tinned dog food or biscuits. Your dog will then spend their time getting the food out.

Other boredom busters are raw hide chews, destruction box (a cardboard box filled with shredded paper with treats hidden amongst it), activity balls (hard plastic ball/cube with holes in that when filled with treats they will drop out as the dog moves the toy around).

                Kong                                         Activity Cube                 

 

It is common for dogs on the first night, and possibly a few more depending on the dog, to be vocal if you have left them in a separate room. This can consist of whining, howling and barking. If you have neighbours you may want to warn them prior to that night. You as the owner may want to use ear defenders if you feel you may find it difficult sleeping, especially any children in your home or difficulty ignoring the noise. You may feel cruel by ignoring your dog but it is the best thing you can do as their owner in the long term. Your dog will learn to settle once they realise you are not coming, some dogs can be persistent but by ignoring the behaviour it will eventually stop. If at any point you feel you want to check on your dog if they are vocal you will have inadvertently taught them that you will appear if they bark and the problem will continue and progress.

Once morning has arrived and you are ready to return to your dog, as you enter the room in which they have been left in there is every chance your dog will be very pleased to see you, as nice as this warm welcome is it is however important to ignore them as you will be reinforcing this type of behaviour and there is a chance that if they haven’t toileted they may do so with sheer excitement. Instead, allow your dog outside to toilet, stay with them and praise when toileted. Once back in the house again, if your dog is still excitable, ignore them until you feel they are calm and relaxed and then you may invite them over for calm/brief fuss.

If your dog has chewed anything during the night do not draw attention to it, if you can remain calm, do not tell the dog off for it, again it is likely they will not understand what it is you are telling them off for.

 

LEAVING YOUR DOG

 

There is always a time when you will have to leave your dog whilst you are out of the house, whether it be for work, shopping or school runs, you need to be sure that you are able to leave your dog without any problems. A lot of new adopters of rescue dogs may take some time off work to settle their dogs in and spend some time with them. Although this is good in principal it is also important that this time is used to teach your dog that being alone is okay. What needs to be avoided is spending all your time with your new dog and then when you are finally due back at work your dog is then suddenly left alone, this can be distressing for your dog as it is not the routine that they have been getting used to and will have formed an attachment to you by this point.

Your new dog may demand a constant stream of attention, if they do try dedicating certain times of the day to play and fuss your dog and have certain times you will ignore their demands. This is something that people find very hard to do and may consider it to be cruel, but think from the dogs’ point of view that it will be  easier for them to cope if they realise you are not always available for them and nothing bad happens because of it.

With getting your dog used to be being left the time needs to be built up gradually until you reach the desired period of time you would like to leave your dog. Initially by getting your dog used to being left you should start with very small amounts of time. This can be as little as five to ten minutes and from there gradually over days possibly weeks, building it up.

By discouraging your dog following you from room to room you will help reduce the likelihood of over attachment. Close doors behind you (if possible) or invest in pet gates to prevent the following, when you re-enter the room ignore your dog until settled, and then you may invite them over for fuss. If your dog begins to whine/bark whilst you are out of the room only re-enter once they are quiet so your dog does not begin to associate you appearing when they are whining etc.

The main thing to remember is to not make a fuss of your dog before you are due to leave them. Some people feel guilty they are leaving their dog to go out or try and reassure them that you will be back soon, if your dog is already a bit unsure you will only be reinforcing their anxiety.

Again, leaving a radio on, an old item of clothing in their bed is all advisable when leaving your dog and also leaving your dog with something to do to keep them occupied as mentioned in the section ‘First night’. The item you choose to leave with your dog should only be available to them when you are not with them. Vary the item you leave with them, this way it will keep them interested and will be less likely to get bored if the item is always the same. 

On return to your home, ignore the initial excitement of your dog, as nice as it is but any contact should be once your dog is in a calm and relaxed state of mind.

Indoor kennels can be used for certain situations including getting your dog used to being left or housetraining. Indoor kennels need to be big enough for the dog to stand up in and turn around freely. They should only be used for short periods within the day; generally a maximum of four hours is advisable. You have to introduce your dog to being in one so they like to be in there, this will take time depending on the dog. Depending on the problem, speak to the Rehoming Centre for further advice.

 

DOGS AND CHILDREN

 

Dogs and children can have a great relationship, but sometimes this can take a bit of time. With Rescue dogs they may have already lived in a home with children or we have no idea of their history, either way an assessment is conducted on every dog to assess different behaviours and responses towards a number of situations an idea of home suitability is then gained from the outcome of these assessments. Behaviour, unfortunately can never be guaranteed and these dogs have already been through quite a stressful time it is therefore very important that they go in to your home with children that know to be quiet and gentle towards their new dog and not to surprise or frighten them. You as the owner need to think what you can do in order to maximise the relationship between your children and your dog? Unfortunately, far too commonly negative incidents occur when children are left unsupervised with dogs’, this should never be the case until you are confident of your dogs’ behaviour. Inappropriate interactions may be made by children being around dogs when they are eating, attempting to take a toy from them either falling on the dog whilst they are asleep or giving them a cuddle whilst they are asleep or resting in their bed. Under no circumstances, especially within the dogs settling in period, should you allow your child to approach your dog whilst they are eating, if it is easier feed your dog in another room and shut the door. Children should never touch a dog whilst they are asleep, this can shock and frighten the dog and provoke a negative reaction.

 

TRAINING

Dogs will vary depending on background on the level of training they have received in the past and the training requirements they need now. Some dogs will know a lot, some a little, some others none at all. It is you as their owner now to teach them positively the desirable behaviours you want them to know. Basic commands such as sit, down, paw are enough for some owners but others will want further commands to be taught also.

All dogs learn at varying rates, some are quicker learners than others but whichever way be patient, you may need to re-examine the way you are teaching and possibly adapt it if you feel your dog is not picking up the command as they should be.

Training sessions should always be short, fun, reward based (tasty treats) and positive. Always remember to teach one command at a time to avoid confusion.

Always use tasty treats, maybe something that they wouldn’t normally have i.e. cheese, garlic sausage to encourage more of a focus on you and to work harder.

Do not allow your dog off the lead initially until you are confident they will return to you. Again, depending on the dog training re-call may take longer with some dogs. A training line that has some length to it is ideal in teaching your dog re-call as they will have some ‘freedom’ but still be on the lead. When teaching dogs re-call ensure you make yourself as exciting as possible so the dog will want to return to you and have tasty treats with you so to reward your dog when they have come back to you,

One of the main issues have is their new dog jumping up. This is a behaviour that comes naturally to your dog but is inappropriate. Dogs will generally jump up as a greeting towards people and as they get excited. The simplest way of discouraging this behaviour is to turn to your side as your dog jumps up and use a command you wish to use for this behaviour, i.e. ‘off’ but ensure the command is not one you use for anything else to avoid confusion. Ignore them until they have stopped jumping up, then you could ask them for an alternative behaviour if you wish i.e. sit or at least if all four feet are on the floor before you fuss them, if at any point your dog breaks the appropriate behaviour repeat the process. Getting people to initially ignore your dog as they or you are approaching will encourage a calmer response from your dog. If your dog is on their lead and they go to jump up, move them down using the lead and as you are doing so use the command you have chosen for this behaviour.

You may find there are moments when your dog has something it shouldn’t have i.e. an item of clothing or remote control. Obviously you will want to get this item back from your dog as quickly as possible. Refrain from getting into a game of chase with your dog in an attempt to retrieve it, your dog will think it as a game and you will have made that item far more desirable because you have suddenly taken an interest in reclaiming this item. Instead fetch something your dog can have, whether this be one of their toys and make that seem far more exciting so they will become interested in that and drop what it is they have, if they do this then reward them with what it is you have distracted them with. Food is another alternative, if your dog is food orientated get something tasty you can swap your item with for the food.

Training Classes may be of benefit for your dog but don’t rush in to the decision of which class to attend. It is always useful to get recommendations, from friends, vets or from the internet, unfortunately Rehoming Centres cannot recommend a suitable Training Class. It is advisable that you go along to a few classes without your dog to see how the training class is conducted and if you feel your dog would be comfortable in that environment, some training classes are larger than others, and you may feel your dog will be more comfortable in a smaller class.

SOCIALISATION 

 

Getting your dog used to strange experiences, places, other animals and people is very important in order to prevent your dog being scared of them in the future. Socialisation is essential for all dogs, and should have started from when your dog was a puppy by being exposed to a number of different experiences, sounds and situations. As their new owner you may carry this on, by taking them to different places and meeting other people and dogs to ensure they stay a happy, friendly dog you can take anywhere.

You may find that your dog is frightened of certain objects or situations i.e. other dogs, certain people or traffic. The best thing you can do is ignore any fearful behaviour, by reassuring them inadvertently you are

telling them that there is something to be worried about and their fears will only worsen. You as their owner need to show them that there is nothing to be scared of by managing the situation effectively. Ensure you give plenty of encouragement and to appear happy and confident yourself in the situation, your will dog sense this from you. Remember to praise them highly when they react in the way you want them to. Depending on the problem, if you require further advice please contact the centre.

 

YOUR RESPONSIBILTIES AS A DOG OWNER

 

TO OTHER PEOPLE

By law you must keep your dog under control at all times to avoid your dog from being a nuisance to others.

It is an offence to let your dog foul in a public place and not clear up after them. Ensure you always carry a poop scoop or a plastic bag to clean up after your dog.

 

LEGAL RESPONSIBILITIES

Identification: All dogs must wear a collar and a tag so to be clearly identified. The tag on your dog’s collar should have your name, address and contact number on it. If your dog ever was to stray for whatever reason your dog can quickly be reunited with you.

Your dog will be micro chipped and this aids as another form of identification to help if  your dog were ever to go missing, but by law your dog must be wearing a collar and I.D disc at all times.

 

DANGEROUS DOGS ACT (1991)

There are four types of dogs that are currently classed as ‘banned breeds’, (the one most commonly known is the ‘Pit Bull terrier’) that the act bans as dangerous. Owners of banned breeds must adhere to certain legal requirements, including the dog being registered, micro chipped, insured and neutered.

It is also a criminal offence to allow ANY dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place.

 

THE DANGEROUS DOGS ACT LAW HAS BEEN AMENDED 2014

 

The amended Dangerous Dogs Act came into effect in England and Wales on 13 May 2014. This law applies to all dog owners no matter what size or breed, whether your pet is a Chihuahua, a Cockapoo or a Collie cross.

Section 3 of the Act applies to every single dog owner in England and Wales. Under this section, it is a criminal offence for the person in charge, not necessarily the owner of the dog to allow it to be ‘dangerously out of control’ in a public place.

 

A dog doesn’t have to bite to be deemed dangerous in the eyes of the law.

 

Generally if a dog bites a person, it will be presumed to have been ‘dangerously out of control’, however even if the dog does not bite, but gives the person grounds to feel the dog may injure them, the law still applies.

Not many owners are aware of this, and it is important to hold that thought when looking at the changes.

 

The biggest difference from now on is the Act also covers incidents on private property in addition to public spaces. This includes your own house and both front and back gardens.

 

In addition:

 

  • It will now be an offence for your dog to attack an assistance dog (Guide Dog, Hearing Dog etc).
  • Prison sentences will be increased for those convicted of some offences.
  • Police or an appointed local authority now have the powers to seize a dangerously out of control dog in a private place. The existing legislation already covers public places.

 

MANAGE YOUR DOG:

 

It is not unusual for a dog to be reactive to any visitor to your door, so you need to decide now how you are going to manage that situation. Probably the easiest option is to shut your dog in another room.

You also need to consider how your dog greets people. What you view as a dog being friendly by jumping up at visitors may be seen as threatening behaviour by a stranger.

 

PROTECTION OF ANIMALS

It is an offence to abuse or ill-treat any animal, or to allow any unnecessary suffering to be caused to them. Also, it is an offence to be involved in any form of dog fighting including recordings of a fight. An owner can be banned/prosecuted or both if found guilty of any of these abuses.

 

LIVESTOCK

Under the Protection of Livestock Act 1953 dogs should always be kept on a lead and under close control when in an area with livestock. If you allow your dog to worry livestock you could be fined and prosecuted, ordered to pay compensation and in the worst cases for your dog to be destroyed.

Livestock that are protected under this act are cattle, sheep, swine, goats, horses and poultry. Game birds are not included.

 

A PROBLEM SHARED…

 

This advice sheet was put together to help ensure the choice and commitment made to take on a rescue dog was the right one by providing information that is commonly sought after by owners taking on a rescue dog.

If though, you have any problems with your new dog however minor you may feel it is, please contact the centre for advice. The sooner a problem is dealt with the better.

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

 

Telephone Number 02476 336616

Alternatively you can email us, please provide a contact telephone number and a brief description of the problem.

kennels@rspca-coventryandnuneaton.org.uk