Planning for a smooth homecoming.
We received an email yesterday from the person in charge of transporting the dogs up from Alabama. In short, they have bumped up the date for Cassidy’s homecoming. She will now be joining our family on December 8.
So, here are some things we’re going to do to get ready.
Things we’ll need.
- A leash and collar for when we pick her up.
- Science Diet for puppies, which is not the brand that we have been feeding Ripple, but it is what Cassidy’s been eating. We can transition her later.
- A porta-crate. This is where Cassidy will stay during the ride home from the drop off in Stroudsburg, PA (unless she is resistant to going in it, in which we case we will have a blanket ready and I will hold her on my lap.) The crate will later be kept in our bedroom and will be where Cassidy sleeps at night.
- A metal crate, which will be kept in the family room. It will offer a more open feeling than the porta-crate and will allow Cassidy to acclimate to her new environment as well as to her pack-mates. It will also give Pebbles, Bam Bam and Ripple time to get used to her.
When she joins us.
Bring Cassidy and Ripple together in a neutral area
We are planning to bring Ripple out to Stroudsburg with us. This way she and Cassidy can first come together in a neutral area. There are also places along the way home where we can stop for walks. Whenever we’ve had dogs visit us in the past, the first thing we’ve done was to walk them all together. Pack-walks release nervous-energy, while helping the dogs get a sense of each other. This creates a more relaxed feeling when they come into the house.
Introduce Cassidy to her new home slowly, keep up with routines
The first few days could go really well, or be really scary, so Mike and I are preparing for all possibilities and taking steps to guard against future cautionary tales by,
- Keeping Cassidy crated or leashed and gradually allowing her more freedom as the situation permits.
- While doing this, ensuring that Ripple’s routine (training, walks, attention etc.) remains consistent and that Cassidy is gradually brought into these activities with her.
I did learn from Robin Solitro, Cassidy’s foster mom, that Cassidy has not been crate-trained, or housebroken. During the initial week or so we will help Cassidy to become more comfortable with the crate. The American Humane Society has some good guidelines to help with this. http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/crate_training.html
Another challenge will be training her to do her business outside, which will mean that, in addition to constantly watching her in the house, we will have to take her out on scheduled intervals. Before we put a doggie door in, Ripple had learned to ring a bell when she had to go out. She is now very independent with the doggie door and can go in and out as she pleases during day, but she still rings the bell when we close the door for the night.
Mike had set up an electric fence around our sideyard, and Ripple does well staying within the perimeter. Cassidy will have to learn the boundaries too. This means we will have to leash walk her around the perimeter whenever she has to go out and it may be several weeks before we will be able to let her out there on her own.
Help Cassidy to feel at home
Cassidy will be scared when she first arrives. Everything will feel uncertain. To make her more comfortable, we’ll follow her lead the first few days and give her lots of treats and affection each time she comes to one of us, while making very few demands.
When something she does requires correction, like if she were to jump on the furniture, we’ll be gentle, but consistent. Whenever possible we’ll try to avoid having to consequence behaviors by blocking and diverting Cassidy from engaging in unwanted ones. In time, we’ll use clicker-training (which will be demonstrated once we begin training Cassidy) to help her learn skills like ringing the got-to-go bell.
Supervise Feeding, don’t keep food left out
We’ll also supervise feeding times, and not leave food for the dogs to graze on throughout the day. In my experience, when a fight does occur, it’s often around food.
Look for another post on Sunday. Next week, guest blogger Robin Solitra will give us some insights from a foster mom’s perspective.
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