As some of you may know, Ryan, Inca and I are preparing for a new member of the household. Kizzy is a 1 year old street dog from Cyprus and on the 25th of this month she is packing her bags and jetting off for (much) colder climes... Poor Kiz!
As part of our preparation I thought I would share five handy tips to help you (and your 4 legged pal) land on their feet.
1. Be understanding!
Remember, wherever your doggo has travelled from, they will likely be quite worried about the whole situation. Kizzy was rescued from being put to sleep in a pound in Cyprus by Saving Pound Dogs Cyprus (a great charity if you would like to check them out btw). She likely hasn't lived in a home before so EVERYTHING will be new.
In addition, she will have spent several hours travelling in cars and planes and be landing in Scotland... I bet she'll forget to pack a coat too! ;) So cut your dog some slack - they may not immediately be the perfect pet, but with time and understanding they will get there.
2. Give them a safe space
In order to help your dog settle in, it is important that they have a quiet area where they can relax and feel safe. This could be a crate with some comfy bedding, or a blanket under a table or tucked in a safe corner. The rules are simple:
Only nice things happen in this space - consider leaving tasty treats or toys in the safe space so your dog starts to see it as a nice area to spend time.
Your dog must be free to come and go to the safe space - this means that you never force your dog to come out of the safe space if they don't want to. Instead, you will have to work on those recall skills ;)
3. Sharing is NOT caring
If you have another pet in the home, then ensure that both the new and existing pet have access to everything they need without having to share (food, water, bedding, access to outside). This can help to avoid conflicts over resources. A little forethought here will go a long way in creating a peaceful household.
4. Don't try to handle them too much or force them to interact if they don't want to.
You may love your new dog and in time, they should come to love you too. But remember, they have to learn that you are a friend. Being handled can be very worrying. You can build up their tolerance to this in small stages. A wonderful way to get your dog to co-operate with handling is 'The Bucket Game' pioneered by DomesticatedManners.
In addition, allow your dog to approach you for attention rather than constantly approaching them. This is especially important for kids to understand. Doing it this way will help you build a bond far faster - nobody likes a stranger acting like a limpet!
5. Don't underestimate the power of predictability!
Keep your routine simple and give your dog warning when you are approaching. The old adage "let sleeping dogs lie" definitely cannot be overstated here. Please don't surprise your new fido when he/she is catching some ZzZz's! They will not thank you for it. If you have visitors, teaching your dog a way to approach and interact in a positive manner can go a long way. Think about teaching a hand-touch.
In addition, it may be best not to take them on walks for a few days until they are settled in and have learnt to trust you.
I hope these tips have been useful, if you would like to learn more about Kizzy's progress then keep an eye on this page and other social media pages (PetMindUK on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter). Lastly - if you have a question about your own dog (or other pet) then please get in touch.