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Help for the new owner of a previously owned dog.
Before your Dane or Saint comes home with you there are some things you need to know. We cannot anticipate what may occur with your dog, but there are some common problems which may arise. This pamphlet is designed to help you solve these problems. It is based on our own experiences and those of some of our adoptive families.
This is the most common problem to arise. Do not change your pets food for at least one month after adopting. You should introduce a new food gradually by mixing a small amount with the old food and gradually increasing the ratio of the new food to the old. A change in water sometimes triggers diarrhea, also. Diarrhea typically lasts one to two weeks. The usual cause is nerves. Once your Dane or Saint is completely settled, the diarrhea will stop. Until then, treat with Kaopectate or Imodium AD. Consult your veterinarian for correct dosage.
This is a problem that also is due to anxiety. Your new dog is afraid it will mess up and be returned to the Rescue. They want only to please, but, as with children, sometimes the harder they try, the more they mess up. Be patient. Show your pet what he is allowed to chew and a firm "no" to what is not allowed. Put your pet in a crate or a separate room when you are unable to watch it.
Some Rescue Danes become very possessive of one or all of the family members. This behavior should not be encouraged, but not severely corrected either. Again, a firm "no" usually works. As the Dane bonds and becomes more secure with the family-usually within a month-this behavior will disappear.
Aggressive behavior is usually related to possessiveness. The dog is trying to protect one or more of the family members. This can be more difficult to handle, but it usually lasts only two or three weeks. Sometimes aggression is caused by fear of new surroundings. If your Dane displays aggression, first, don't have visitors-especially children. If you must have guests, put the dog in another room. Second, show the Dane that certain people are okay by having someone hold the dog while you hug the person and tell the Dane that this is a friend. When things are calm, sit down with your Dane and explain that this behavior is not acceptable. This may sound odd, but face it, your dog is not stupid. He understands what you are telling him.
This condition sometimes manifests itself as a refusal to eat. The adopted Dane may become depressed and refuse to eat. This is not a common problem and normally disappears in the first 24 to 72 hours. Be patient and loving.
Usually we can tell you which dog is prone to excessive tail wagging. If it happens, put a heavy sock on the tail securing it with tape. Usually this subsides after a month, but these Danes may repeat this behavior on and off throughout their lives.
This is not a common occurrence but sometimes needs extra attention. Usually it subsides within a month. This depends on how willing you are to work with this. It is caused by a fear of being dumped again. The dog doesn't want a certain person to be out of its sight. In extreme cases dogs have been known to jump through windows to follow the person! First, try placing the dog in a crate when you must leave. Second, enroll the Dane in an obedience class as soon as possible even if you know how to train. The obedience class is not so much for the training as it is to help the Dane become secure with you as well as itself. If the problem persists, consult your veterinarian. There is now a drug which can help with resistant cases. See our page on Separation Anxiety for more info.
Most of our Danes are crate trained and love having their own space. Occasionally after being adopted and placed in a crate a dog may try to tear its crate apart to get loose. To work through this problem, you need to determine the reason for this behavior. It can be caused by several very different things:
1. Separation anxiety-see previous section.
2. Grown-up syndrome. These Danes decide or know that they don't need to be crated and want to show that they can be trusted.
3. Brat hood-these Danes love being spoiled and want more.
ACCIDENTAL URINATION OR DEFECATION
Even though your new pet is house trained, it may have an accident in your home the first or second week. This is because it is trying to learn your schedule. You must stick to a schedule whenever possible. You know that sometimes you have to go potty off schedule and just can't wait. Well, it happens with dogs, too. Be patient.
DO'S AND DON'TS
DON'T have a welcome home party or too many visitors the first month.
DO enroll your dog in an obedience course as soon as possible. This helps with bonding.
DON'T rub your dogs nose in its accidents. It already knows it did wrong. It's just learning a new schedule.
DO praise your pet when it potties in the correct area. Put the dog on a schedule.
DON'T put your baby or child on the Danes back. This can paralyze the Dane as well provoking a dog bite. Buy a pony if you want your child to ride an animal.
DON'T allow children to remain unattended with your pets. This rule applies to ALL pets.
DO always supervise all pet and children interaction.
DON'T allow children to hit, bite, or step on your dog. The child may or may not know how hard it has hit the dog. Correct the child for this behavior. Remember children need training and discipline, too.
DON'T hit your pet as punishment. Treat your pet as an intelligent animal. Sit down and reason with your Dane. You will be surprised how much the dog understands.
DO reward your dog for good behavior. The magic words are "Good girl!" or "Good boy!" You like to be praised when you have done a good job. So does your dog. Positive reinforcement works!
DON'T let a problem escalate to the point of dumping before asking for help. Call a reputable trainer.
Many times none of these problems develop, but we want you to be prepared for the arrival of your new pet. Remember love and patience make a happy home, and your reward will be a long and mutually satisfying relationship.
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