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What Can I Do to Help My New Dog Settle In

QUESTION: We recently rescued a 1 year old female Boarder Collie. She always seems on edge like she's not sure what to do. She jumps and barks at every little sound. How can I get her to relax and settle in? I want her to be a part of the family and enjoy her life with us.

ANSWER.  
The first thing you need to do is establish a trusting bond between the dog and all of the humans in the house. This is done by giving the dog a safe place to live, healthy food and water, consistent leadership and, companionship. These items are the foundation of a structured life. 

Another great way to offer structure is to give her a predictable daily routine. Setting up a feeding schedule (Example: 7am and 7pm), go for walks at around the same time and groom her regularly. Set up daily play sessions, training sessions and some plain old "hang out" times. These will make her feel right at home in no time!

This kind of interaction and structure will also serve as a way to build an incredible bond between her and the humans in the home. Building this strong bond will make training much easier too. It takes some extra time and effort on your part, but the more time you put in to it the faster it will happen.

Proper leadership should include the setting of simple rules and boundaries. Once established, they must be enforced the same way, by everyone - every time. Done correctly, this consistently will give your dog the knowledge that you are in control.

Other things that can help your dog adjust more quickly are:

  • The use of a crate as a den.

  • Keep her exercised and tired.

The use of a crate as a den.
Dogs are "dening" animals. When they are in their den they feel safe. A crate can be made into a den by simply covering it up with a blanket or a large towel.

Keep her exercised and tired.
Exercise helps to burn off stress, anxiety and  pent up energy. A tired dog is a happy dog.


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