Welcome to my house…now here are the rules!
by Sue McCabe
It always strikes me as unfair when people bring home a new puppy or rescue dog and indulge them in privileges which in the long term, they don’t actually want them to have. They allow the new dog to get away with certain things, which in time could encourage annoying or sometimes even dangerous behaviour.
When my latest foster arrived, he was shown the rules of the house from the moment he walked through the door. Despite the fact that he was terribly neglected, emaciated and somewhat lacking in home social skills, it was made clear to him what was expected from the start. After several days of explaining the rules and having him accept them, everyone (dogs, cats and humans) slots back into place in their daily routine without much fuss or upset.
I have so many clients who think they are doing the right thing by allowing the dog to sleep on their bed, climb onto the sofa, feed from their plate, have them follow them around the house. This is usually done under the guise of settling them in, because they feel sorry for them. Then when such behaviours become a pain several weeks into the new relationship, they call me to help explain to their dog that actually, such privileges are not theirs to keep. I think this is terribly unfair on the dog and only strives to lengthen the settling in process.
My new foster was taught to sleep in his crate, not pee in my house, not follow me around but cope on his own, eat meals in peace (him and us), settle even when thing are going on, leave the cats alone, sit at the back door before coming inside and not push through the doors or jump into the van without permission. All this was explained to him from day 1, then reiterated over and over again until he got it. He has never tried to get upstairs. Why? Because from day 1, upstairs was out of bounds. He has settled in his crate whether left alone, or while things are happening around him. Why? Because within an hour of having him arrive, I began crate training him.
Make life easy on your new dogs and if you love them, please don’t fuss and spoil them to start with, only to change the rules of the game when they are settled, to upset them again with new routine. This is profoundly unfair on your dogs and will, in the long term, work out to your disadvantage too!