“Pixie” is settling in at home! Joanne Rice is a Canine Behavioral Therapist and Master Trainer with Bark Busters Home Dog Training. She agreed to chronicle her dog adoption experience as she and her husband adopt a new dog into their family.
Our first night with Pixie went fairly well! She slept in her crate in our bedroom and only whined if she heard someone stirring. Since then, we have experimented with where to keep the crate and found the bedroom seemed to make her feel safest. Now she sleeps through the night without a peep. We are, however, using a second crate in another place when we go out – more on that later.
Most of our first few weeks with Pixie were spent learning about her habits and introducing her to her new environment. We are slowly acclimating her to the food we feed Rizzo, mixing it with some food provided by Canine Castaways that we will phase out. You do have to make the change slowly over 7-10 days to avoid possible gastro issues. I noticed she was eating very quickly, which is somewhat common with rescue dogs, so I got her a slow-feed bowl – sometimes known as a bloat bowl – to slow her down. It’s not healthy for a dog to inhale their food as it can cause bloat, which could be deadly!
I scheduled a vet appointment for Pixie two days after we adopted her. This can be an anxiety-inducing experience for dogs. Typically, I use Fear Free methods to reduce fear, anxiety, and stress while with my dog inside the vet office, but because of current events, I was unable to go inside with Pixie. Instead, a staff member met me at the car to get her. I was a little apprehensive about how she would act with all these strangers, given the apprehension she showed when we met, but the vet called with a positive report – Pixie did really well and got a clean bill of health! They even said she was at a good weight, and just needed to build some muscle.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Pixie walks nicely on leash. It’s much easier to control a small dog, but even when walking both dogs at the same time, she naturally fell into rhythm at my side and kept pace with me and Rizzo. I was curious how she would react to other people and dogs, but she doesn’t bark at (or really even acknowledge) others, even if the dogs bark at her.
We are also very pleased with Pixie’s potty habits. We have been diligent about taking her out frequently, and she has only had two accidents in the house so far – one was during a thunderstorm at night, so we can’t really count that! We are sure to use the enzyme cleaner according to its instructions to clean up, whether on the carpet or hard surface, and it works great.
Speaking of thunderstorms – as anyone who lives in Florida knows, these relatively common spring and summer occurrences can be a terrifying and unpredictable for dogs. Because of this, we crate Pixie in our closet when we go out. It works like a charm: the clothes muffle the sound of the thunder, she can’t see the lightning, and we have soothing music playing from iCalmPet, a service that provides relaxing music specifically geared towards dogs or cats. We also have a Furbo – a treat-dispensing dog camera – to observe the dogs when we are gone.
Not everything was perfect, however. Pixie quickly became attached to me AND my things. She followed me everywhere for the first few days, and I still have to be conscious to create separation, so she becomes more confident and independent. That’s a bit challenging in light of shelter-in-place orders, but we are making an effort to maintain a more “normal” schedule and crate her for a few hours each day. This is something I recommend to my clients to avoid future instances of Separation Anxiety, especially if they work from home or are retired. The sooner the dog learns to be alone, the better!
Pixie was also entranced by my shoes, even wandering into my closet to get them. Luckily, I knew just the tool to help: my trusty, highly recommended Snappy Trainers! These tools make a loud snapping noise to startle and discourage pets from behaviors like rooting through the trash or counter-surfing. It worked like a charm – Pixie set it off once and hasn’t gone close to my sneakers since.
Usually there is a two-week honeymoon period before you really start seeing the dog’s true personality. Pixie has revealed herself to be extremely curious – as she is getting more comfortable in our home, she is starting to explore. She is especially fascinated by the hot tub!
Pixie isn’t the Frisbee or fetch lover that Rizzo is, but she does enjoy chasing him and joining in on the fun. I’ll be working with her one-on-one to see if she can learn the concept of bringing things back and dropping them.
As a Bark Busters trainer, I know firsthand that adopting a dog can be a challenge. I must admit, however, we are very fortunate – Pixie has been pretty easy so far. Each dog is different, and no matter how challenging (or not) the process is, I love helping families acclimate their adopted dogs into their homes. I hope this diary has given you some insight into adoption – and made for happier pets and pet parents!
Read our entire Adoption Diary here!
For more information, call Joanne at 813-240-6848 or visit www.barkbusters.com to find your local trainer.