Adopting A Dog – What I’ve Learnt So Far

By now I’m sure you know that I absolutely love dogs (it’s almost becoming a theme ๐Ÿค”…). For a long time we have been a one dog family, and occasionally my sister’s dog (Aliyah) comes to visit. At the beginning of May, however, we may have … maybe … you know … adopted a new dog into our family ๐Ÿ™ˆ

Another dog!! I know right – Her name is Jenna – an 8 year old Black and Tan Australian Terrier. So much for the red dog theme we had going! We have loved every minute of having her. At first its very exciting and you cant wait for them to become part of the family. But the transition hasn’t been without its fair share of hiccups and it has taken Missy (our first dog) quite a little while to adjust. Before I officially introduce Jenna (pics and another post to come), I would like to share 5 things that I’ve learnt (so far) in having an extra dog in the home.

1 // Create a safe space for each dog within your house

When Jenna arrived she was very quickly overwhelmed by all the new smells and noises of our house; frequently challenging Missy for top dog status (that, and being a crazy escape artist). We found peace from keeping them separate and allowing them to have their own space.

Missy has a big cushion (which totally used to be one of the decorative cushions from my bed that she has claimed as hers!) And that’s how we created her safe space. When Aliyah comes over, the two girls quite happily swap cushions or even share (on a very good day). However, Jenna didn’t adjust as easily as we initially expected and it didn’t take long to realise what was missing … a safe space for Jenna; a place that she knows is hers in the unknown world around her. So now she has a cushion or basket which is placed in ‘her’ spot and she can be tied up there. That is where she sleeps and spends her time when she is at home.

2 // Make sure you are the boss

Everyone knows that dogs are pack animals and when you have multiple dogs there is an order or hierarchy that they establish over time. For us this has been really hard – we have a lot of variables. So the easiest thing to do is to make sure that you are the boss. This is hard for us because, well I wasn’t the boss (I really am more the fun Aunty), but my parents were. Essentially you make the rules and they have to stick to it. There is a whole world out there on what body language you need to give and habits to enforce that we haven’t researched much into… but that’s for another day.

3 // Have a consistent routine and stick to it. If you don’t have one, start one.

We already follow a very strict routine with Missy but with Jenna on the scene we needed to reinforce the routinue more than ever. ย To add to the confusion, two days after Jenna arrived, Aliyah come to stay for 10 days while my sister was away. Not the greatest timing … but we were forced to adjust.

We had now gone from a one dog house to a three dog house!!! But having a routine for their food, tolieting, sleep and activity was what saved us from going completely mad. We often joke in our house that dogs are like small children and thrive on clear expections and established routine. Overall when we follow the plan, the girls were more settled, had fewer ‘accidents’ and got along with each other a LOT better. It still isnt perfect and we are still finding keeping them separate as much as possible helps keep everyone calm and cool (especially the humans!)

4 // Give equal attention to all dogs in your house

This one is always hard for me. I am very affectionate with Missy – constantly picking her up for cuddles or giving her attention. But when Aliyah arrived a few years ago we discovered that the ‘green eyes’ of jealously often occur when one is getting more attention than other – often resulting in growling and fighting between them. And it wasn’t any different with the arrival of Jenna. I had to dial back a lot on my time and affection to Missy and make sure if one got a pat then all the others did as well. It became that attention and cuddles became a reward for being good (which is just as good as food treats).

5 // Be extra vigilant withย toileting

All of our dogs are inside like 95% of the time, and only really go outside for tolieting. One of our dogs already has ‘incontinence’ issues (not naming any names), so we humans are well trained at watching for the signals. But the arrival of Jenna (and the previous owners telling us that she isn’t toilet trained) meant we needed to be super diligent on this front.

Over the first few days we had quite a number of accidents on the floor – sometimes it was Jenna marking her territory; othertimes we just missed the signals. We taught Jenna the cue ‘outside’, which my sister first taught Aliyah and we have been using on all the dogs since to encourage them to go to the bathroom.

I’m sure there is plenty more for me to learn in this process and we haven’t yet reached complete harmony within the house, even after 3-4 weeks. But we are motivated to stick with it and allow the process to take its time. I’ll be sure to update you as the process continues!

If you want to meet Missy and Aliyah head over to this post here for some photos those two snuggle bugs.

Have you ever adopted a dog before? Do you have any tips on adopting a dog?

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