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Bonding With Your New Dog
"The MOST IMPORTANT thing you will Ever Do"

Bringing a new dog into your home can be a very stressful experience for him. He will be around new humans and also be in a strange environment. These reasons make it very  important for you to make the transition to home life as seamless as possible.

A seamless transition into your home is accomplished by making the dog comfortable with you and it's new  surroundings. I'm not talking about letting it sleep in your recliner or on your new leather couch. I'm talking about "bonding" with your new dog. This is nothing to be taken lightly. Bonding is the most important thing you will ever do in your relationship with your dog. 

The bonding process begins the second you pick him up and head for your car. If he doesn’t feel safe with you, it will be much harder to gain his trust. If trust is not created quickly it can mean that it will take much longer to create a strong bond between the two of you. 

Take it slow. When you get to the car, put him in the crate and sit beside him so he can see you. If he's not crate trained, sit him beside you a secure him by holding a short leash to keep him safe during the trip home. When ever possible, have a friend drive. This will allow you to be free to focus on your new dog during the trip. Then take a nice calm drive to his new home. (This trip MUST NOT include any road rage moments, it needs to be a very peaceful experience for everyone).   

When you reach home plan to spend plenty of uninterrupted quality time with him. The temptation to have friends and relatives stop by to meet him should be avoided at all cost until he gets used to you and his new home. Too many people, to quickly, can overwhelm him and he could become frightened and withdrawn. 

Since you have already taken the time to prepare a safe environment for him, you will now be able to spend your next 24 to 48 hours hanging out (bonding) with him.

Upon your arrival, take him directly to the place in the yard that you would like him to use for a bathroom. Remember, he may be nervous so he will probably have to “GO” after the car ride. Spend a few moments, and after he relieves himself, be sure to reward him with excited praise and maybe a little treat.

Next, take him for a walk. Start by walking around the yard. Then take a short walk around the neighborhood. At this point, try to avoid direct contact with neighborhood dogs and other people if at all possible. The purpose of this walk is to show him that you are in control of the situation and that you want the dog to follow your lead.

Now it’s time to introduce him to your house. Leave the leash on for now. Once inside, allow him to discover the areas of the house you want him to live in. By leaving the leash on, you can control him and keep him out of any areas you don't want him in. It will also allow you to keep him off of the sofa or any other pieces of furniture he should not be on.

After he has checked out the house take him back out to that special place in the yard and give him the opportunity go potty again. Remember to reward him if/when he does.

Return to the house and spend lots of time with him on the floor. This is the time when the bonding process begins to take on shape. In fact, I suggest that you spend at least the first 24 hours on the floor with him. I actually go so far as to put a sleeping bag and pillow on the floor so that I can live at his level for the first 24 hours. Stay in close contact with him as much as possible for the first few days. This will help speed up the bonding process and he will learn very quickly to be comfortable around you. 

Start The Bonding
During the bonding process take note of what your dog likes and dislikes. This means toys, food, games, activities and so on. Does he like his tummy rubbed, his neck scratched? Does he like to play fetch, frisbee, hide-n-seek or chase a tennis ball? Does he like begg'n strips or milk bones? Next, find out which things he likes the BEST? It is important to know all of these things. This information will be extremely valuable later. Also, if you are fun, he'll want to hang out with you! You can also use this knowledge during later training sessions.

Do's and Don'ts
During this first week or so do not try to do any major training. The only thing that you may want to do is introduce a few boundaries. Other than that, use the time to learn everything you can about him and let him learn about you. It should just be a "fun time". During this time, just play and hang out together as much as possible. While doing so he will be checking you out and you need to do the same with him. Observe his actions and mannerisms under a wide variety of different circumstances. You will also see what he does to communicate with you.

Finding out all of these things will give you great incite into his personality. 

For the first few weeks, you may want to hand feed him once in a while. I usually do it once per day for a few weeks and then drop back to once or twice per week. This helps to build his respect for you and it shows him that you are the source of all things good in his life. 

After the initial bonding period has been completed (the lines of communication have been established) you can begin your basic training. At first he may have a very short attention span, but most dogs learn very quickly when given proper motivation. Keep commands short and simple. Be consistent and use the same word or sound for one command. Teach one command at a time and be sure to praise or reward a correct behavior. Make sure your dog knows all of the basics: Sit, Stay and Come. Then move up to NO and Leave It.

If you have children and they are old enough to help raise the dog, you should assign jobs to them before the dog arrives. This way, everyone will know what to do and the dog will never be neglected. Set rules for him and the family as well. Example: If the dog is not to be allowed on the furniture, make sure everyone knows it and abides by the rules.

Starting to Train
The time required to complete the bonding process will vary. It can take a week or two, or it can take a month or so. It will depend on the amount of time you have invested and the personality of the dog.

When the bond has been established you can start building on his good habits and use them to help his basic training. Those first days of bonding will now start to pay off. You'll have a lot of good ideas about how to communicate the things you want him to learn. The time you took to praise his good behavior while you established the bond, will now begin to reap big rewards. 

One of the most important things to remember is do not punish incorrect behavior. It's way too soon in the relationship to discipline for any incorrect behavior. For the first few months he will still be figuring you out and learning what is expected of him. Punishing or yelling at him will only create confusion and stress.

As long as he is focusing his attention on you by looking up at you or following you, he is showing you that he is looking for your guidance. While he is watching you, this would be a good time to teach him his name!!! When you have eye contact, say his name in a cheerful tone of voice. This will also help him connect his name to paying attention to you. This is an important first step in obedience training. (Learn to Teach the Sit, Stay, and Come Commands)

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