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Tips for Bonding with Your New Dog

A dog is brought into a home with certain expectations. Some of these are housetraining, basic manners, and a modicum of respect. They aren’t too much to ask for. What happens when the bond doesn’t happen? The training doesn’t click? The dog stares at the owner as if he’s speaking a feline based language. Don’t re-home the dog just yet. There may be more here than meets the eye.

Begin at the beginning

Whether the dog came from another home, a foster home, the shelter or from his mother’s side, this is a new environment for him. It is full of new voices, smells, sights and some scary things he might not have ever met before. Imagine it from the dog’s perspective. When a dog enters a new home, it’s best to do a leashed walk through, allowing him to sniff and explore in a controlled setting. When the walk through is done, show him where his area is. This could be a crate, a bed with toys or a pile of blankets. He needs a place to go when things get stressful.

shutterstock_188673473Potty Training

While still on the leash, the dog needs to be lead to the door he will be using to go out for bathroom breaks. The same door should be used on a consistent basis. Dogs thrive on continuity and regularity. Take the dog out the door, every couple of hours, or until he gets this is the potty door. If he has a specific potty area outside, this is a good time to teach him that as well. When taking him out the door, lead him to the spot and wait. Once the dog starts doing his business, praise him. This marks the task as a good thing; the dog knows where it is acceptable to go potty.


How many people are in the home? Is everyone involved in training? Is everyone using the same words, phrases and hand signals while training? It is all too common for each family member to come up with their own training language, which completely baffles a dog. A confused dog will appear “stubborn” because he has no idea what is expected of him. Come together as a unit; agree on words, hand signals and times when training will be taking place. In time the dog will begin to understand what is being asked and happily comply.


Consistent exercise like walking, jogging, hiking or even playing fetch in the backyard will strengthen the bond between human and dog. Dogs like spending time with their human; interacting with them is an added bonus. If the dog is willing, try a group training class. The owner may even meet other providers going through a similar struggle. It helps to have a support group of like minded people.

Bringing a new dog into an established pack takes patience, understanding and a sense of humor. Things don’t always go according to plan, but with a little effort things may turn out better than anticipated.

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Written by Renee Moen
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