I just got a new dog? Now what? Steps 1-2

Michele Forto is the lead trainer at Denver Dog Works

Whether your dog is just eight weeks old or a rescued dog that you’re not sure how old he is or what’s he’s been through.  Now is the time to introduce good habits show your dog what is expected of him and how you plan to interact with him in his new life.

A good place to start is to write down some things you’d like to do with your dog.  Call a local trainer and discuss with him/her what your goals are and ask specific questions about how they can help you obtain those goals.  A training plan should be developed to build from a basic introduction of obedience commands to those that will be of most use to reaching your goals.

Step One: Introduce a flat collar and a six-foot lead.  Even if the dog is older chances are that he may not have ever been placed on a six-foot lead or a flat collar.  In the beginning, it doesn’t matter if you are able to walk around the block or walk 3 miles with your new dog.  What matters is that you are teaching your dog to stay close to you.  I like to describe to people that they are holding hands with their dog.  The walk shouldn’t be about a power struggle.  It should be pleasurable for the both of you.  Encourage your dog, again no matter the age, to follow you, turn when you do, and to walk with you at your pace rather than running some kind of race.  Walking your dog is not a competition.

Step Two: Welcome your new dog to your home.  What exactly does that mean?  Well, I have several clients who have asked me to complete board and trains with their dogs and what I noticed the biggest issue to be was that when we bring a dog home at 8 weeks or 8 months we usually get overly emotional and literally say out loud “welcome to YOUR new home!”  Believe or not you just placed your dog in the alpha role and boy is he happy to have received this ranking without having to earn it!  The first thing you should do is Step One – then walk, do not carry no matter how small, your dog to your front door, place him on a sit telling him good boy, then open the door, ask him to wait while you step over the threshold and then invite him in while you say “welcome to MY home, this is where you’ll be loved, nourished, exercised, and taught how to be the best dog in the world.” Viola! Instant respect, you just let your new dog know that he has to earn everything in his life.  There will be testing remain steadfast.

Tomorrow: Steps 3-5

Michele Forto is the lead trainer at Denver Dog Works and the co-host of the popular Dog Works Radio Show.



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