What to Know When You’re Getting an Older Dog

The dog should sleep in the same room with you, but not on the bed. (By: Hannah K)

Acclimatizing Your Dog to a New Home

First, take your dog out to the yard where you expect them to eliminate. If possible, get them to eliminate there. If not, take them inside and offer some water. Tour your house and go back outside again. The dog should eliminate this time.

Take care to enter through doors before the dog does. When you feed your dog, be sure you’ve already had your own food, or eat some tidbit first. You want to tell your dog, without fanfare or histrionics, that you’re in charge here. This puts many dogs at ease because they won’t have to wonder who the alpha is.

The dog should sleep in the same room with you, but not on the bed. You should use a crate or a sleeping pad/towel, although the crate is best.

Try to get into a predictable routine as soon as possible. Dogs prefer a routine, and you will help your new dog settle in more quickly by adhering to one. Examples:

  • Feeding at the same times
  • Walking at the same time
  • Going to work and returning at the same times

Start right away with expected behaviors. If you don’t want the dog on the furniture, then don’t let them on the furniture from day one. Don’t fall into the common trap of thinking that the dog is moping and should be given more leeway initially. If you expect good behavior matter-of-factly from the beginning, you’ll have less trouble in the long run.

If the dog appears to be moping, leave them be but stay nearby. Don’t let them mope too long — distract them with a walk or a bit of play time.

Introducing New Things or Overcoming Dislikes

Your new dog may never have been, or actively dislikes being, bathed, groomed, and nail-clipped. You will have to proceed slowly and with patience.

Take baby steps. Your dog hates being brushed? Start out with a warm wet washcloth and rub in short lick-like strokes until the dog relaxes, then stop. Repeat this and eventually introduce a short bit of brushing, until the dog relaxes (always end on a positive note). Eventually the dog will accept being brushed.

You can do the same technique with almost anything else. With clipping nails, first start with the goal of getting the dog to accept your handling of the paws. Then accustom them to having their toes massaged and handled. Then to having their nails flexed and handled. In the meantime, carry around the clippers so that the dog learns to ignore them. When you actually start to clip the nails, clip off a teeny piece off of one nail and put the clippers away. Later, do another nail. When the dog accepts this quietly, do two nails, and so on.

If you find out that your dog is afraid of something, remove it from the environment initially. Plan out how you want to deal with it, what steps and increments you want to take. Then slowly work on it.

Work on one thing at a time to reduce stress on your dog. By doing it this way, you will build up the dog’s self-confidence and trust in you.

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