This is one of my handouts for new puppy owners. The advice certainly applies to older “new” dogs as well, including rescues and shelter dogs. Preventing problems is so much easier than going back to fix them later.
Many, if not most, of the difficulties that novice owners have with their young puppies or new dogs are directly related to management. Good management simply means planning ahead for success with your new dog. It means setting the stage so that the dog will likely do the right thing instead of the wrong thing. It means thinking ahead so that potential problems are prevented rather than continually being corrected.
Don’t allow a puppy or untrained older dog free run of your house. Until he earns the privilege, he should be confined to the kitchen or other small room by baby gates, in a crate, on a leash with you, or in the yard or run outdoors. All areas where he has unsupervised access should be thoroughly dog-proofed. When your puppy or untrained dog is out in the family room, you must be with him and watch him. You will then be able to reinforce the behaviors you want, and correct those you don’t want him to repeat. In the yard, put away garden hoses, patio furniture, the children’s toys, and tools. Store objects that may be chewed safely in the barn or garage, or out of reach of the dog. Cover things you can’t move, like the air conditioner or spa, with chicken wire or welded wire. Use chemical repellents where needed. Whenever the untrained dog is in the family room put up the throw pillows and TV remotes. Don’t ever let him wander out of your sight. Let him drag a house-line, or take him with you when you leave the room.
Make your dog a part of your family. By allowing your puppy or untrained dog to live with you and your family, you create a dog that feels secure and content, and you will prevent many problems that are related to isolation and stress. Dogs that live their entire lives in the back yard may be prone to boredom and stress related behaviors, such as destructive chewing and digging, barking, and trying to escape.
Provide your dog with aerobic exercise and play every day. Try to take him places where he can get both mental stimulation and a physical workout. Dogs need both to stay lean, healthy, and mentally sharp.
Every breed of dog is different, and individuals within each breed can be different, so you may have to keep these differences in mind as you plan your management strategy. For example: smaller dogs, including many toys, are often more active indoors than larger breeds. They tend to be alert and “busy,” and will need exercise like their bigger brothers. Some very large breeds, like the larger sight hounds and Great Danes, can be quite sedate indoors, but still need outdoor exercise to be healthy. Terriers will dig, and hounds will scavenge every crumb of food on the floor. Retrievers will want something in their mouths, and herding breeds may want to chase things (cats, kids) both indoors and out.
Thinking ahead and planning for good management, especially in that important first year you have your puppy or new dog, will allow you to proceed much faster in your training, and enjoy your dog so much more.