The family rehomed two-year-old Puggle Zadie two weeks ago as company for their older Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and their little daughter.

Rehomed PuggleAs so many people do, they felt they should immediately introduce their new dog to as many people, dogs and places as possible.

Too much too soon

They are concerned that she barks at people coming to the house. She also barks at people and dogs she meets when out.

This may simply be because the rehomed dog has been overwhelmed. Three ways to confuse a new dog. They will now backtrack and expose her to their world gently, one thing at a time. It’s very likely her reactivity will then decrease by itself.

Zadie is adorable. The couple are smitten and want to do the very best for her they can. It will take her a while to adjust fully to her new life, so they will now go slowly.

Their little rehomed dog had spent the past few months in foster with an someone who, they believe, was unable to take her out much. She probably needs gentle re-introduction to the outside world in general and most especially to people and other dogs.

They very much want to take her for lovely walks and be able to stop at a pub or cafe just as they do with their other little dog. For now that is impossible. She panics and barks.

Where the outside world is concerned, they will now do one thing at a time.

Reconstructing walks

Like most dogs, it’s on lead that Zadie feels most unsafe when encountering dogs and people. People tend to hold the dog tight and continue walking towards the ‘enemy’.

At present when Zadie lunges at a dog, she will feel pain in her neck.

Zadie pulls. They use a Flexilead on her collar. A retractable, sprung Flexilead is mostly tight and actually encourages pulling.

We walked her around the house using my training lead (about eight feet long). We hooked the lead under Zadie’s chin, not on top (see the photo). This is how it will feel to her when they get her a Perfect Fit harness.

She soon caught on to walking with us everywhere we turned, following the leash. If she wants to go to the length of the lead to sniff, then she can do so. When we want her back we merely have to indicate and she comes. Then she has a little ‘thank yo’u reward beside our foot to reinforce the spot we would like her to return to. Then we start walking again.

There is no need for correction. She will work it out for herself and make her own choices.

Over the next few days they will include the front drive and the road outside into the loose-lead-walking game.

For rehomed Zadie a break from other dogs

They will give her a break from encountering dogs until she is more confident. Walking on a loose lead and feeling some freedom along with no neck discomfort will make coping with everything much easier for her.

They will break walks down into one thing at a time, starting with loose lead walking in the house and gradually take it outside. They will get their newly rehomed dog happy with the environment before introducing other dogs into the equation. Of course, life doesn’t always work out as planned, but their aim for now is to maintain a distance that keeps her happy.

They will learn to read her signs and meanwhile err on the safe side.

At home they have a few things to work on including possible separation issues along with barking at people walking past the house and also coming in. She never barked at me because I had choreographed my arrival. They can copy that with other callers.

I recommend they teach their little girl not to touch Zadie when she’s asleep unless the dog has chosen to sleep beside her. That is always a good rule for all children. Let sleeping dogs lie.

For the next couple of months the things they are working on to help rehomed Zadie to settle in will certainly improve. Other things may crop up.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out here. Finding instructions on the internet or TV can do more harm than good sometimes. Every dog is different and every situation is different. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Behaviour and Support page)