Our Inspiration :
Rehabilitating Rescue Dogs | Roxy and JB
As many of you may know we have a special place in our hearts for rescue dogs. Eric’s own dog, Roxy, came to him as a rescue. Roxy needed to be rehabilitated due to being chained most of her life with very little, and no good, interactions with dogs or humans. Now she’s our resident diva, the queen bee of K9 Heights and the biggest love bug anyone could ask for.
Recently K9 Heights teamed up with Detroit Pit Crew to help rehabilitate one of their rescues. Meet Jelly Bean. Jelly Bean, or “J.B.” as we’ve lovingly nicknamed him, was found on the streets of Detroit with an embedded collar and was extremely fearful of humans. He is still healing from the embedded collar, which is a horrible wound to suffer.
When Jelly Bean was first rescued he wouldn’t let people touch him. He's been through alot, still completely fearful and distrustful of humans. Trying to bolt, which means he needs to be securely handled at all times. Yet he has never displayed an ounce of aggression. Detroit Pit Crew reached out to see if we could help and we will be bringing you a blog series to follow JB’s progress. Having JB come to live with us for awhile sparked another interesting blog topic we thought we’d share.
How Do You Bring a New Dog Into Your Home?
With Rescue dogs this can be a little different because they might not have ever been inside and there are new sights and sounds to take in. It doesn’t matter if you’ve gotten a rescue or a new puppy, introducing a dog into your home requires patience, boundaries, and letting the dog acclimate.
Step 1: "Crate" a Safe Space
Yup, you read that right. We want to have a safe space for your dog that helps in creating the structure needed to successfully integrate the dog into your home. The crate allows your new dog time to decompress, time where they are free from expectations, and a place to go if there are children or other dogs that are overwhelming them. With dogs on the extreme end of fear, like Jelly Bean, we have to be careful. They would gladly hunker down in the crate all the time and avoid interaction. We don’t want to force a lot on them, but if they learn to hide in the crate, they won’t progress past that fear.
Crates are wonderful tools especially if it’s an enclosed one like this one that Jelly Bean came to us in. Dogs tend to do better when they feel surrounded and safely enclosed. Think of it like a comfy den. You want the crate to be large enough that the dog can stand up, turn around and lie down in but not a condo. If the crate is too big the dog may feel they can relieve themselves in one corner and still have a tidy living space per say.
Step 2: Building Trust
We will start off having Jelly Bean’s crate in the common areas of the house so he that, even when he is in his crate, he will be near areas that have high foot traffic to get him used to the noise of a household. The majority of the time he will be on the “buddy system” with one of us. On a leash and following us around. No expectations right away away, just proximity as much as possible. Getting used to us and knowing that he was safe.
Step 3: Building Confidence
Jelly Bean does require human interaction because his neck wound needs to be treated for an infection caused by his embedded collar. We are very mild on expectations at this point though. We want our interactions to be positive, after we treat his neck, we allow him to settle down on leash.
Any dog that you are introducing to a new space, have them on leash or in a confined space. We don’t want to force ourselves upon them but we don’t magically give them keys to the kingdom either. They get access to us and move from room to room as we do when they are out of the crate. This helps keep the dogs safe so that we know what they are up to at all times. Place command is one of the first things we work on. As, when a dog has a reliable place commands, they spend even less time in their crate. The structure is still rigid, the free roam policy isn’t instituted. They just learn to hang out with us but where we want them, on their place bed or cot.
Confidence Takes Patience
With Jelly Bean, and timid dogs this takes extra patience. Not every dog is a people person, rushing to get attention from everyone they meet. Sometimes they just need to learn that being in a room with you isn’t scary. This is the time that we want to use high value treats and luring. Jelly Bean is a fan of beef hotdogs and cheese.
Hank the Mastiff learned that this week with Eric’s dad, Bill. We want the dog to be more confident in our space and learn to trust. The quickest way to derail that is to force attention on a dog who doesn't want it. If a dog like this solicits attention, then we can reciprocate. So many dogs, though, have made huge progress, only to be pushed right back to where they were because owners want the dog that everyone can pet.
How to be Joined at the Hip but Not Smothering
It may seem to be a contradiction, that Jelly Bean is unwillingly in a buddy system with us, yet we’re saying not to force attention. However, there is a huge difference. Having him with us, he’s calmly praised and rewarded when he moves with leash pressure, or towards us. We are not dragging him over and forcing him to accept pets.
With fearful dogs and dogs with bad experiences, people so often inadvertently reinforce that state of mind, by allowing them to avoid any stressful situation, they are ALL stressful. Or, people do the opposite, flooding them with expectations they are not able to process. We ignore the fear. Literally go about our business with them as if everything is all good.
We don’t go overboard to expose them to everything on the planet before they are ready. If we are constantly cooing, “it’s okay, it’s okay”, while the dog doesn't understand our words, they understand our tone. They also realize the fact that we are playing into their fear, so they figure that must be the way to feel. The more you ignore the fear and interact with them as you would normally, the more progress they’ll make, and it will be made much quicker
Step 4: Building Structure
Whether you have an excited puppy or fearful rescue that the second you open the crate, they bolt from the gate like a racehorse, you want to work on boundary training (this goes for all doors). If it’s a puppy or a dog who is not house trained then, during times right after potty breaks but while they’re still excited, you want to work on boundary/threshold training. Teaching them that they don’t come out of the crate until released, and they aren’t released until they are calm. If you work on this and teaching them to lure by your side with a high value reward (you can use a slip lead once their out to keep them from rushing past to to the door while also avoiding accidents) you should be able to quickly teach thresholds, impulse control, AND potty training. All pretty big necessities!
You want to build engagement with your dog. This is a great time to work on name recognition and getting them to focus on you. Ideally when bringing a dog into your home you’d like them to get to know their surroundings then come back to you and settle down for either pets, or chewing on their favorite toy at your feet until you’ve taught them a solid place command (which we recommend being at the top of your priority list).
So often we want to coddle a new dog or puppy and shower them in love and affection but not all dogs want that. You need to let the dog come to you and build their trust in you with training games such as name recognition and recalls (remember having the dog on-leash helps with cuing your dog to get their attention). We want the energy to be low and relaxed when your new dog comes into your home, this helps with establishing a balanced relationship with your dog and avoids undo stress for them early one.
Limit chances to make mistakes in the early stages by controlling as much of the environment as possible.
How Long Does this Routine Last?
Structure and boundaries are the foundation for a meaningful relationship with your dog. By implementing these tactics you are laying the groundwork for your dog’s trust and confidence in you. You are establishing positive habits. Dog training and having a well behaved dog takes a lifestyle change. Training never stops. Establishing the proper protocol now helps because you don’t have to break as many bad habits in the future. This is especially important for house breaking and to prevent mischief.
Once you’ve successfully introduced your dog to your home, it’s important that you still implement the structure and boundaries. It’s going to take time, and training isn’t instantaneous. While people think integrating a dog into your family happens quickly, you want to be sure you’re ready for the commitment and the long haul.
Why not start your dog off on the right paw with these steps?! When you feel the need to mix it up, finding ways to engage with your dog through training and making it fun will only build your bond. Establishing boundaries, taking time and investing it in your dog will give you a meaningful relationship with your dog and make welcoming your new family member even smoother.
We're so glad to be part of Jelly Bean's story and we can't wait to keep you updated on his progress!
Keep in mind puppy can hold their bladder for as many hours as they are months old, plus one. So for example, if you have a two month old pup then they should be able to going out every three hours.
-If your dog has an accident in the house or their crate that may be a sign that the need more frequent bathroom breaks.
-If your dog is going to the bathroom in the house, we want to redirect this behavior, catch them in the act and take them out immediately after the accident giving them a chance to go outside. If you yelled "no" or corrected them there’s a chance they didn’t empty their tank all the way. Taking them outside immediately gives them an opportunity to relieve themselves fully.
-Give them structured access to water when first starting out. We want them to be hydrated but free access to the water bowl will result in tiny unpredictable lakes inside your home.
-If they’re playing hard give them a chance to go to the bathroom.
-If it’s been a period of time since your dog has asked to go out, take them out anyway.If they don’t go while out, take them inside and crate them. Give them another opportunity in 10-15 mins.
-Be sure to be taking your dog out on leash to go to the bathroom and use the same spot each time, it's easy for a dog to become distracted and forget their job if they’re allowed to free roam in your backyard. Trust me if your dog comes inside and pees on the floor when you didn’t walk them outside to go to the bathroom, that one’s on you. They need to know what’s expected of them before you simply cut them loose.
K9 Heights, LLC website is for informational purposes only. Consult a professional dog trainer before implementing any training tactic found on this website. It is your responsibility to evaluate and independently determine whether to perform, use or adapt any of the information or content on this website. By voluntarily undertaking any exercise displayed on this website, you assume all liability and risk for any injury or damages.