re-homing a dog !



by Helen Griffiths ( D.A.W.G )

Firstly I would like you to imagine that it is your first week in your first job.

Remember how everything was strange: the routines, what was expected of you, how everything worked and the strange faces.

Add to this the fact that your dog is an alien and has no understanding of the culture.

A dog behaves very differently to us.

His code of behavior is obviously totally removed from our own.

What you may find extremely irritating is perfectly excellent manners in the dog world.

The best way to understand dogs is to think ‘pack animal’; even though dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, they are still creatures of instinct.


1. When your new pal arrives have everything ready.

His bed should be in a warm place, ideally where he can hear and smell you.

The hall is ideal until he settles.

Even though it is tempting for the family to fuss him, please DO NOT.

Your dog will be feeling very insecure and frightened.

Just leave him alone and let him find his own way around your home.

Please realise that to many dogs a person bending over them may have meant a beating, you will be bending over him to cuddle him but he will not know your intentions.

The first few nights he may bark and whine.

This will have to be tolerated.

Do not shout at him, as this will agitate him further.

Ignore the barking – going to him when he barks will only reinforce that he gets attention for barking.

If your dog scratches at the carpet by the door, chews the door frame or pulls the curtains down this is because he is trying to get out of the exit points of the house.

Possibly putting his bed on the landing where he can hear and smell you may help.

3. House training
Your new dog may not be clean for a few weeks.

Remember that some of these dogs have been in kennels and take time to adjust to a routine.

If he messes indoors, ignore it; clean it up without a fuss and take him gently into the garden.

Encourage him to do his business and praise him when he does it.

Do this every few hours, start a routine.

A dog will not realise that he has messed in the wrong place, all he can tell from your reaction is that you are mad at him for some reason.

This he will be able to recognise from your body language as soon as you walk in the door.

Chastising him for messing will only teach him that you are an unpredictable being.

This in turn can lead to him messing at the sound of your return, in anticipation of your reaction.

House training takes time and patience.

If you have neither of these DO NOT TAKE ON A DOG!

4. Chewing

A young puppy will need to chew.

The new teeth start to arrive at 4 1/2 months of age.

Human babies are given teething rings for this purpose.

To a dog your chair leg is his teething ring.

A young puppy’s teeth are uncomfortable and need to bed down.

Chewing helps to relieve this discomfort, it also releases a chemical from the brain that relaxes him.

Activity toys are extremely good and will keep him occupied for short periods of time.

Try smearing cream cheese or some other tasty treat on the inside.

If your pup is nibbling the chair leg a firm NO! and a toy should be offered instead.

Plenty of exercise will also help – a bored dog that is not able to run his energy off will look for other entertainment.

Puppies exercise should be shorter, frequent walks.

A pup’s joints are still growing, over-exercise can cause injuries later in life.

A pup can chew until 18 months old and certain breeds such as labradors and retrievers can chew until even later ( possibly up to 3 years of age).

Once again there is no point chastising a pup that has chewed your Chippendale table when you have left him unattended – HE WILL NOT UNDERSTAND and if you think he does you are not using your intelligence!

Many people say ” He knew what he had done- he was hiding from me.”

No he does not! What he does know is that from your stance, facial expression and body language you are angry.

Dogs use their senses and can read body language well.

How do think that they survived in the wild? These instincts are still extremely strong within them.

What he is not clever enough to know is why you are angry.

It is important to ignore the damage, telling him off will not help.

Vick’s Vapour Rub put on, for instance a chair that has been nibbled can discourage further chewing.

5. Crate training for puppies

Many people that this has been suggested to have an immediate reaction of “Oh no! I won’t put him into a cage”.

As a result the pup is returned to us at a later stage.

Crate training is not a cage to a dog, a crate will become his den, somewhere quiet where he can get away from it all.

First put the crate somewhere free of draughts then put his bed and fovaurite toys in and also a water bowl.

Leave the door open and let him investigate it for himself.

Feed him in it keeping the door open.

Soon he will associate the crate with pleasant things.

Whilst in the house close the door when the pup has gone into it.

( I would suggest putting something in for him to chew on e.g a rawhide chew )

Close the door and leave him for 5-10 minutes.

If he scrabbles at the crate or barks, ignore him.

When he pauses in these protests open the door.

Do not open the door whilst he is barking.

Build the time up every day that he is left in the crate.

Eventually he will come to see the crate as a safe place and you can easily pop the door shut and go to the shops knowing that your house will be intact when you return.


When the chewing stage is over you will find that you no longer need the crate.

Starting when the dog is young is best.

N.B. Please ensure that when buying the crate it is big enough to allow lots of room for the dog to stretch, stand and turn around comfortably.

6. Feeding

Dogs up to 6 months old should be on 4 meals a day,

6-9 months 3 meals a day ( as you drop 1 meal, slightly increase the size of the others )

9-12 months 2 meals a day

and at 12 months and over 1 meal a day.

( It is best to split this meal into 2 to allow the digestive sysytem to cope better)

Larger dogs should have their food bowl raised to prevent their stomach from twisting.

If you have children that are inclined to slip your dog titbits cut his main meals down in size slightly.

It will not take long for your dog to become overweight from all those extra snacks.

An overweight dog is an unhealthy dog and you will shorten his lifespan.

Remember that for every inch of fat on the outside these is an inch on the inside pressing onto his heart, kidneys and liver.

7. Training

It is important to take your dog to training classes.

You, yourself will learn much and they can be fun.

Many training classes are also social groups as well, involving not only training but walks in the forest followed by a pub lunch ( my kind of dog walk! ).

A good training class will have only 8-10 per class and will not use choke chains.

Barbara Woodhouse is probably in doggy court in the afterlife for extremely harsh methods of training. Think about it a CHOKE chain is self-explanatory plus a dog can learn that the heel command means pain. This has in one case I know of led to a dog biting every time he was told to heel.

Choke chains are also known to cause throat and spinal problems.

A halti or gentle leader is far kinder.

8. Please do not let your dog off the lead outside until he has got to know you well.

For the first week or so stay in the garden with him when he does his business, for he may try to jump out. It is important to encourage your dog to see you as his safety so he will run to you if scared rather than to run blindly in a panic away from you.

It is also important to be more interesting than what is distracting him, use high tones when calling him back.

Try to walk backwards or run in the opposite direction.

9. A change of environment and food may cause him to have loose motions at first.

Keep him on the same diet as he was fed in the rescue.

10. It is a legal requirement to have a dog tag with your addresss and telephone number on the tag.

It is also advisable to have your vet’s number engraved on the reverse.


Engraved metal tags are the only ones we recommend.

The barrel type nearly always unscrew themselves.

All our dogs are microchipped and the details are kept with the rescue.

For this reason it is VITAL that you inform the rescue first if you lose your dog or move address.

11. Some dogs in the past may have been grabbed by the collar before being hit.

If your dog shies away when you try to take him by the collar this is probably the case.

Step back, sit on the floor at his level and gently coax him to you.

Stroke him for a while then slip his lead on.

Keep all movements slow.

He will need time to learn that you will not repeat his previous treatment.

12. Puppy play and puppy mouthing

When puppies play, they mouth and roll each other.

Watch any wildlife program and you will see this with young predators.

This play is how they learnt o hunt and also fight.

A puppy or young dog is not aggressive or dominant if he does this.

Unfortunately, dominant aggression is rather over-used as a description – this is normal play.

Puppies like to pounce and nip toes and fingers with needle sharp teeth.

They also like to grab sleeves and trousers particularly if the occupant screams and runs.

What fun, just like prey!

Now you will need to teach your dog that this is not acceptable behaviour in the human world.

He will think it strange that human young do not bite and pin each other down, but then our young do don’t they?

Look at your young children rolling, playing and fighting, although hopefully they do not bite each other!

Firstly, every time the pup nips in play a loud “Ow!” or a sharp “No!” should be let out.

( When puppies are playing the underdog will scream in quite a piercing manner, the louder he screams the quicker the other will let go ).

Repeat this every time and if you are playing with him at the time stop, withdraw yourself from the play, thus he will learn that nipping means no reward.
If your puppy jumps up and nips give out a loud “No!” and turn your back on him.

Jumping up at the family returning is normal in pack situations.

Young pups jump at the mother’s mouth and she regurgitates food.

If your pup or adult dog jumps at you when you return, completely ignore him.

Walk straight past and only talk to him or pet him when he has sat down or is standing on all fours.

Only by doing this repeatedly will this work.

If you think that you can do this a few times and then stop, it will not work as with any training you must be consistent.

Adult dogs may also display play nipping, this is because they have not been taught not to do this.

In a pack a mother or other adult member would stop this as the pups grew.

In the absence of a pack you must take its place.

13. Your dogs’ position within the human pack

In a pack the alpha male and female will have the best sleeping area, choice of food and will lead the pack when hunting.

Your dog will need to know his place within your home.

Like children, dogs are happier knowing their limits and the rules of the house.

(a) I always advise not to let your dog on the bed or furniture.

If you do, you are sending a signal that his status within the pack is equal to your own.

This can lead to problems such as the dog not allowing you in the bed or on the settee.

(b) Always eat before you feed him and never give him titbits from the table.

(c) He may rush to get out of the door before you.

If he does, close the door tell himto sit and stay, then open the door.

If he rushes out again, repaet your actions and tell him to sit and wait.

This will take time and patience. When he sits give him a treat.

He will learn that rushing for the door gains him no reward but sitting and staying does.

Practice this during the day.

The practical reason for this training should be obvious, imagine how difficult it becomes to take the doog out with the children.

The dog rushes first, everyone becomes entangled and you lose your temper.

(d) Games.

It should be yourself that instigates games.

I knew a terrier that ruled his mistress’ life using his ball to do so.

He brought the ball to her and she threw it.

This went on for hours.

This dog had his owners life perfectly controlled.

Terriers are extremely strong-willed as a breed and this was not an ideal situation.

When he came to stay at my house and tried the same tactic the ball was removed.

He then found a stick and this was removed.

All games were instigated and ended by myself.

He thought that he was top dog!

He also believed that he could ram-raid my own dogs’ dinners and get away with it.

Now my dogs in their younger days would have put a stop to this with a warning growl, but being that much older were unable to.

So he was put outside the open back door whilst the others ate and only when they had finished was he allowed his dinner, still outside.

This reinforced his position as the lower member of a pack, as the lower members eat last and on the fringes of the pack.

(e) When playing ‘tug of war’ games it is important to end the game as the winner.

To do this hold firm to the toy and tell the dog to ‘Leave’ and then remove the toy.

Children should not play ‘tug of war’ games with your dog

Childern are small and not strong and cannot win this game and your dog will come out in top position.

All games between your dog and childrenshould be supervised , as children tend to run and scream.

The dog will naturally jump at them to get the toy and may accidentally catch their hands with his teeth.

Before throwing the toy tell the dog to sit.

Throw the toy once he has sat, then use the ‘leave’ command before throwing the toy again.

I have hopefully here covered most of the common problems that I get enquiries about.

We also run a training class and can help out with one-to-one training in the home.

If you need advice, please phone 01202 380467

It is important to realise that it will take a good 6 months for your dog to really settle in SO BE PATIENT !

copyright © Helen Griffiths (D.A.W.G)