Tips and resources

Bringing Home Your New Puppy Or Rescue Dog

Written by Jackie Parkin

One of the things that I learned when teaching at the SPCA, where many of the dogs in the classes were newly adopted shelter dogs was that people expect an awful lot from their new charges.    They want the dogs to love them right away and to appreciate being ‘saved’.  They want them to listen and obey and blend with their family and their routines instantly. That’s an awful of pressure to put on a dog.

I often tell people to view getting a new puppy or adopting a new dog, just as they would if they were adopting a child.  There is a period of adjustment, the child/dog has to get to know you, and you need time to really get to know the child/dog.   You need time to become comfortable with each other.  Your new dog needs time to become comfortable with you and your family.

VERY IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER ….. Your new dog or puppy is going to a strange house, with strange sights, sounds, smells, and strange people.  He is leaving everything that is familiar to him.  It’s a new routine with new people.   In the case of a rescue or shelter dog, the dog may also be re-adjusting to “house” life after spending months in a kennel situation.  He may also be adjusting to seeing cars, buses, busy streets, bikers, joggers, television sounds,  household sounds, smells, and all the other stimuli that your environment has to offer, which he has been sheltered from while living shelter life.  Sometimes this can be overwhelming.  Remember … you are STRANGERS to this dog.

As a precaution, attach a 6ft leash to your new dog’s collar & let him drag the leash on the floor.  This is your ‘safety net’ …..your life line. It allows you to take control of the dog without getting up in his face and making him feel threatened.   It provides a buffer zone for you to take hold of the dog without frightening him.

When you first bring your dog home DO NOT let him out in the yard without having a “long line” (or at least a leash) attached to his collar.  And do not let him out in the yard unsupervised.  This is especially important if your fence has any weak spots or is less than 6ft in height.   A scared dog can scale a 4 or 5 foot fence with remarkable ease!   If your new dog is acting wary or timid (and even if he’s not) do not allow him out in the yard without having a “long line” attached to his collar.  A long line is a 16 – 20ft length of leash.   The long line allows the dog to have a sense of freedom while allowing you a “life line” to keeping the dog safe.

Take time to get to know your new dog/puppy, and give your new dog or puppy a chance to get to know you.   Don’t push it.  Go with the flow and let the dog dictate the pace.   You want to build a bond of trust that will last a lifetime.

    • When you first bring your dog or puppy home let him explore the house (after going potty of course); introduce him to his crate and put a yummy treat in there for him to find.  Forget about “training” for a day or two (except for potty training) ….forget about “rules” ….and let the dog adjust.
    • Let the dog follow you around and talk to him in a friendly tone.  Have super duper yummy treats on hand and every time the dog checks in with you, give him a treat.  He will quickly learn that being around you is a positive thing!
    • If your dog exhibits any signs of being timid or fearful, attach a leash to his collar and let him drag it around …. this is your “life line” to being able to take hold of the dog & prevent him from bolting away ….even in the house.
    • Give the dog some ‘down time’ in his crate so that he is not overwhelmed by all the new sights and sounds.  His crate is his safe haven.  Give him a peanut butter stuffed Kong (size appropriate for the breed) and or a good marrow bone to chew.  With puppies it helps to freeze the stuffed Kong or bone so that it is soothing on their gums when teething
    • Start potty training right away by establishing a routine.  Dogs LOVE routine.  Routine gives them a sense of security.
    • To help the dog to bond to you & to ease any separation anxiety he may feel (especially puppies who are leaving their mother and litter), get an old t-shirt or other item of clothing and either wear it for a day so that it has your scent on it, or put it in the laundry basket for a day in order to get your scent on it.   Then give this item of clothing to the puppy/dog as a security blanket for in their crate.   With puppies it sometimes helps to give them a stuffed toy to snuggle up with, something close to their own size to serve as a surrogate littermate.
    • Avoid isolating the dog in a basement or other area away from the family; keep his crate in a bedroom, kitchen, or family room …. somewhere where he will feel secure
    • When you do start training, work on attention and focus games/exercises to help bond the dog to you.

Grooming Jack Russell terriers

Luckily for us, grooming is not generally a major worry for JRT owners.  Standard hygiene is important, and regular bathing will keep your Jack clean and will also cut down on shedding if done correctly.  Nail clipping and ear cleaning are also important, and vary in required frequency from dog to dog.

Rough or broken coated Jacks can be more work if you choose to hand strip them, which consist of plucking out the longer guard hairs of the coat.  It is a time consuming process and can be uncomfortable for both you and your dog if not done properly, so some research is recommended, or a trip to a groomer who is used to hand stripping.  Clippers can also be used for trimming down a longer haired JRT.

Bathing is a great way to cut down on shedding, no matter what type of coat your Jack has.  Tepid to slightly warmer water is ideal, and a good raking of the fingers through the coat helps to loosen hairs that will then rinse away rather than stick to your nice black wool coat.  The more often you bathe, the milder the shampoo you should use, with the exception of dogs with skin sensitivities, in which case your vet should be consulted.  A good towel dry and your Jack will be zipping around dry in no time!

Nail clipping is something that many owners are frightened of doing themselves, but, if done carefully there is no reason why you can’t.  The rule of thumb is to GO SLOWLY.  If the nails are clear, just clip a safe distance from away from the quick.  If nails are dark in colour and the quick is not easily visible, just start at the tip and clip off tiny parts, bit by bit.  If you start to see any ‘dot’ of colour in the middle of the nail, stop there! If you DO clip too far up, press with cotton until it clots, which can take some time depending on severity.  I suggest always having a clotting product handy just in case.  These can be bought at any pet store.

Ear cleaning not generally a big worry for JRTs, but a simple solution bought at any pet store and a cotton swab will do the trick.  Don’t ever try to go in the ear canal too far though!
Naomi Gunhouse
PupCulture Pet Grooming

Puppy Notes –“Mine!”

By Jackie Parkin

What is Resource Guarding?   It is when a dog has possession of an object or food or space, and growls when someone or another dog/animal approaches “his possession”.


What Things Are Resources?   Pretty much everything and anything that the dog has or wants. 


The first thing to remember about resource guarding is that it is PERFECTLY NORMAL behaviour.  Humans do it too!!   Ever see kids argue about “their” toys …..  “Mommy, Johnny took my truck!”   (MY truck)    Even babies grab at and object if you try to take THEIR binky or food or a toy.   One of the first things a baby learns to say is …. “Mine!”

Perfectly normal behaviour.   NEVER argue with your dog over this because confrontation will increase the guarding & promote aggression.   Instead we will teach our puppies to welcome us taking their food and toys … we will teach them that it’s a good thing BEFORE they learn to guard their stuff.

It’s very important that we are able to take food and toys away from our dogs.   It’s not about being boss or any silly stuff like that.  It’s about safety.   What if your dog has something poisonous or dangerous in his mouth ….for his SAFETY you need to be able to take it away.

Teaching a puppy that it’s okay for us to come near his stuff &/or take it away is really very simple.

First you need some super duper yummy treats > not doggie treats …. Better stuff!!  Chicken, liver, roast beef, cheese …..

Always TRADE UP  >  your treats have to be BETTER than his food &/or toys!!

The key to success here is to be PRO-ACTIVE  >  teach your puppy to LOVE the things you want him to like BEFORE he decides or learns not to like those things.

Avoiding Food Possession/Agression:

  1. When you feed your puppy his meals, hand feed him the first few bites and then put his bowl down for him.
  2. While he is eating take a piece of your super duper yummy treats and put a piece into his bowl.  He is learning that your hand approaching his food bowl brings good things and is therefore something to welcome.   Add 2 or 3 treats intermittently while he is eating his food.
  3. Next give him a treat from your hand & with your other hand, take the food bowl away.  Add something yummy and give the bowl back.  The puppy is learning that allowing you to take his bowl means something good is coming his way.

Avoiding Toy Possession/Aggression:

  1. when your puppy is playing with a toy or chewing on a bone, casually approach him and give him one of those super duper yummy training treats.   At first you can just toss the treat beside the puppy so that he learns to happily anticipate your approach 
  2. next you can give him the treat from your hand > don’t take away his toy yet > just teach him that when you are near  his stuff,  good things are coming his way
  3. the next step is to take the toy away.  I teach my puppies to “Trade”.   I will offer the puppy a treat and say,  “Trade?”,  and when they take the treat, I take the toy. And then immediately give the toy back again.  You want the puppy to learn that he is not going to lose his toy, he’s just sharing it with you.
  4. play interactive games with your puppy and his toys so that he welcomes you handling his stuff and knows that you playing with his stuff is a good thing

Avoiding People Possessiveness:   Some dogs will guard their owners.  And many people will dismiss this as the dog “protecting” them.  But this is not what the dog is doing.  The dog is either (a) resource guarding/possessing his owner, or (b) is fearful and exhibiting fear aggression.  Either way, you do not want this becoming an acceptable habit.

  1. in the beginning stages of conditioning any behaviour ALWAYS have your super duper yummy treats handy.
  2. when your dog is with you & someone approaches you (whether it be a family member or a stranger), give your dog a treat.  No need to say anything specific.  Just as soon as someone is approaching …. Become a Pez dispenser.   You want the puppy to think, “WOW!!  I WANT people coming up to my person ‘cos it means good things for me …yummy treats!!”

Avoiding Territorial Guarding/Aggression:   Right from the get go, teach your puppy that people approaching his ‘space’ is a good thing.  When he is resting on his bed, or the sofa, or wherever he is hanging out, approach him to about a foot away, and toss him one of those super duper yummy treats.   Don’t encroach on his space especially if you notice him tense up > toss your treat from a short distance.   Repeat this many times at this comfort zone and then start to approach to a little bit closer to toss your treat.   Gradually make your way to being able to go right up to the dog and give him a treat.  You want him to learn to welcome you entering his space because it means good things.

* If you look at the above  training you will see that it’s all a matter of making associations.  Bad experiences can make the puppy learn bad associations between things.   And good experiences will make the puppy learn positive associations between things.   The latter is your goal.

Please visit our general tips and resources articles for more great advice! 

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