Following are some tips that I have picked up from raising Manfred and Ruby (my 2 Cavaliers), introducing Jasmine in 2016 (our rescue girl) to the pack and then fostering a number of dogs and pups.
There is so much information available online on all of these topics (and many more), so please do your research and find the plan that works for you. The key is to have a plan and to be consistent – dogs love routine.
Also remember that your rescue group (if applicable) and vet will be able to help with many questions and you can also enlist the help of a dog trainer.
- The rescue group will usually cover the initial vaccinations and the spay/neutering of your pup. Make sure you are clear on what is covered and what is yet to be done as part of the adoption process and keep a diary note of upcoming treatments.
- Vets sometimes offer puppy training courses, which is a great way to socialise your puppy, get lots of tips and health information and learn some training basics.
- Trainers aren’t just for dogs with behavioural problems, you can use a trainer early on to help prepare you and your pup and get you into good habits with things like walking and boundaries.
The Fur-Directory contains plenty of vets and trainers (plus much more) that you can consider.
Where possible, ask them (the foster family or rescue group) to complete the ‘Foster Handover Checklist’ form in the Downloads section, this will outline his food, routines, behaviours etc so you understand a bit more about your new addition before he even arrives and can prepare a smoother transition.
Also have a look at the Resource Centre for some useful checklists (in the Downloads section) on new pet set up costs and a shopping list. You can download these, add and change whatever you want so you have a tailored list for your pup.
Please please please remember – your puppy has come from a different place (and potentially multiple different places) and may have had a hard start to life (many pups in the UAE have are born on construction sites and some have been abused by people).
Like with humans, they need time to adapt to their new home and their new family (think back to when you relocated to Dubai – you needed time to get to know your new surroundings).
The pup may have just been separated from their mum and siblings so will need a few days to adjust. If they have been abused then they will need time to trust again.
But they will adjust and they will trust again! That is the beautiful thing about pups and dogs – they are trusting, loyal pets. If you just take the time, be patient and give the pup a good routine, lots of love and attention then you will have an adjusted furbaby in weeks.
The key for a puppy is routine. So, think about where you will place everything and set it up before the puppy arrives.
- Where will you feed the pup?
- Where will he sleep?
- Where will he go to the toilet?
- Are there areas he can’t go? For example, upstairs, you might want to install a puppy gate to restrict access to areas he shouldn’t be going to.
- Introducing the pup to existing furbabies
If you have other dogs in the family then ensure you introduce them on neutral ground, and after they’ve eaten so they will be a calm mood. Let them sniff each other and walk for a few minutes together before taking them back to the house. Try not to pull back on their leads as they will sense your nervousness, give them a chance to get to know each other slowly first. If your existing dogs are very territorial or aggressive towards other dogs then please seek some additional support with this introduction (either research or using a trainer).
Food – try to use the same food that the pup has been eating at the place they were before he came to you. This will avoid immediate tummy upsets. If you are going to change their food then do this gradually. Also do your research on the types of food available. Please don’t just buy the cheapest food, as this won’t be good for your dog. Follow the feeding instructions on the packet (or speak with your vet if there are special dietary requirements).
Also ensure there is always fresh drinking water available.
Feeding – Try to use the same location for feeding each time. If you have other dogs in the house then it is best to feed them in different locations, so they don’t get territorial over their bowls. This goes the same for bones, feed them separately to avoid fights.
Just before putting the bowl down, tell your pup to sit until you give him the command. Once the bowl is down and you are ready say ‘off you go’ (the command) and he can then eat his meal.
Sick belly/runny poo – if he has runny poo (and has already been tested for parvo, giardia etc) then it might be the change of diet or he may have picked something up that he shouldn’t have while out walking or in the garden.
In this case:
- Cook up some chicken and rice for his next few meals.
- Also add a teaspoon of cooked pumpkin into his dinner for a few meals. I keep a can in my pantry just in case.
This should help settle his belly and get him back to normal. If it persists then you should take him to the vet for a check-up.
Pups need to go to the toilet quite frequently when young so you may need a wee pad inside until they get used to going outside (or if they don’t have access to a garden, then perhaps the balcony). Keep the pee pad in the same place to start with then gradually move it towards the outside area until he is in the routine of going outside.
Take him outside to pee first thing in the morning and be sure to praise him when he does it in the right spot. Also take him out there before going to bed. If he starts peeing in the wrong space then pick him up and take him to the right space and praise him there.
As he is peeing repeat the word ‘toilet’ so he comes to associate the word with the action. Then later you will be able to take him out and mention the word to him so he understands that is the place to pee (which will help if you move house or holiday somewhere with him).
Routine with this is really important so think about where you want him to pee before he arrives. If you keep changing the location from room to room he will get confused and will have more accidents. And be patient, there will be some accidents but he will learn!
- Sleeping and crate training
The pup’s bed/crate should be a safe and happy place, not somewhere he goes to be punished. If you are going to use a crate then encourage him in there with treats and praise, let him know this is a safe space for him. He can then use this crate for sleeping and for when you need him to be popped away for any other reason. There is plenty of help for this training online so please do some research to find out what will work best for your pup and your family.
For the first few nights/weeks he might cry out or bark. When we are fostering we try to have some awake time/play time before he goes to bed, then take him to the garden for a wee. You can even take him for a little walk before bed time so he is a bit more tired. Once he has settled he then goes to bed. If you get up and take him out of his crate/room every time he barks or cries then he knows this will work. Be strong and give him time to adjust to the new sleeping routine.
All dogs need regular walks. This is their time to get exercise and to sniff out the action of the neighbourhood (or as someone once said to me, it is their chance to read the daily newspaper).
We walk our dogs every morning and night and this is almost the best part of their day (or perhaps it is tied with meal time). If we have a foster dog then they also join these walks and it gives the foster dog a good opportunity to learn what dogs do 😊
If you are having issues with the dog’s behaviour on the walk then do a bit of research and perhaps enlist the help of a trainer (correcting behaviour early on saves a lot of effort down the road).
Pups and adult dogs love play time! And it is fun for the rest of the family too. Just remember that puppies don’t understand the strength of their little jaws and aren’t aware of how their pointy little teeth can hurt you.
Make sure you have plenty of chew toys for your new pup.
Pups use their teeth a lot during play so make sure you have lots of chew toys to use during play and encourage those instead of your fingers or hand. To stop him from biting you make a high-pitched sound when he bites and turn away or put a chew toy in his mouth instead. If you simply push him away he will think this is part of a game and will continue what he was doing.
The pup will nap regularly and then will probably wake up with lots of energy and want to play (his crazy time) so have toys in his space (and rotate them so he has new toys to play with every few days).
Pups love playing with their humans, especially games like rope tug. Playing will help keep the pup busy/entertained, will help them to learn boundaries and will give you laughter and joy!
- Protecting your house from those puppy teeth
When I first got Manfred and Ruby (my cavalier twins) they were a menace! I hadn’t had experience with pups before and boy did I learn the hard way. I would come home to sections of carpet missing, because they found a thread and created a game out of pulling it together!
If you are leaving your pup at home alone while you work then consider keeping them in their own space which is free of cords and stuff they can chew and ruin. I wouldn’t leave a puppy at home all day alone as they will need socialisation of some sort, and of course the chance to go out to the toilet. If puppies/dogs are bored they will chew things, so keeping them busy, active and able to access chew toys is important.
When they are out and about in the rest of the house then they will find new and exciting things to chew, such as your TV and computer cords or even your dining chair legs. Make sure you move all cords away where possible or protect them with covers. One tip I learned was to put masking tape around the base of things that they could get to and put a few drops of tobasco sauce on it. The pup may take a sniff, and even a lick, but that will be their first and last attempt.
Other suggestions out there include mixing some white vinegar with water and spraying that on the teeth targets. This can get a bit messy (and smelly if dealing with carpet and wood). This option didn’t actually work for our previous foster, he kept licking it up the little monkey.
Again, research the options and find out what works for your pup. In the meantime, puppy proof your house as much as possible (without creating a prison atmosphere of course). As they get older and trained you will not need to worry about them chewing your belongings.
There are probably many other things to consider but I think these are some of the key things. Like with anything, a bit of planning and preparation will go a long way to settling your little furry bundle of joy into the home. Also be mindful of where your pup is when people are coming and going from your house as he may run out an open door.
The most important thing to do then is relax and enjoy this beautiful experience. Having a pet is a joy but it is also a privilege and one that should be treated as such.
Happy furbaby parenting!
This section is also provided in the Resource Centre as a Download.