Congratulations on your beautiful new companion!
Written for Lurcher Link by Zetta Bear
Here are a few tips to help him or her settle in.
The first few days:
Try to keep things simple and quiet for a while after you bring your new dog home. How long you need to do this depends on the dog, but for the first few days keep it to the members of your household, including other pets, and your new arrival. All your friends will want to visit but put them off for a while until your dog begins to settle.
Try not to leave your dog too much or for too long initially. Don't bring her home then go out for the evening or day! If at all possible, take a few days off work to settle her in.
Get to know your dog. In particular you need to know if he's easy going with food and treats or likely to defend them: where he does and maybe doesn't like to be touched/handled and so on. When you feel familiar with him you'll be able to let visitors know, which will reduce his stress levels and prevent problems.
Beware of potential problems and try to protect your dog. For instance, don't leave her unsupervised with children or around people with food. These are the situations where she might behave badly and prevention is best! Eventually you'll get to know her and be able to manage her accordingly.
Unlike many dogs hounds are usually best fed morning and evening even when fully grown.
If you have a tall dog, raise his feeding bowl by putting it on a stool or upturned bucket or buy a raised feeder.
Always leave an hour and a half gap between feeding and exercise. Deep chested dogs are vulnerable to bloat, which will kill them very quickly. If your dog appears to be distressed after a meal get him to a vet immediately.
Keep your dog on the lead until you've got a sense of her recall and behaviour.
Experiment with recall in the house and the garden - call your dog to you and give a treat or lots of praise or both when she comes to you.
You might like to use a lunge line so your dog can have some freedom but still be safely under control. NEVER use extending leads with a collar, dogs can get up enough speed before they're checked by the lead to injure or even break their necks. If you want to use an extending lead, attach it to a harness.
When you first let you dog off lead, do it in a safe enclosed space. Call him to you and treat or praise him but don't put him on the lead. Send him away again. Do this a few times so he doesn't associate being called back with being put on the lead. Call him back to you without putting him on the lead a few times on every walk.
Some people prefer to muzzle their dog in the early days until they're confident about their behaviour.
Be selective about who you go walking with. If you have friends with unruly dogs or dogs with poor recall your dog is likely to pick up bad habits! On the other hand other well trained dogs may help to reinforce good behaviour. If you really want to walk with your friends, take it in turns to let your dogs off the lead, don't let them all off at once until you're confident about how they will behave. Sometimes the pack mentality can take over when there are several dogs and the humans can have a lot less control!
If you already have a dog or dogs in the household:
Put all treats and toys away for a while and closely supervise your dogs if you give them treats. This way you'll avoid flash points.
The dogs will sort out their own hierarchy. You're unlikely to be able to influence this much. Don't punish the “Boss” dog for putting the others in their place. All the dogs will be happy and more secure once they know their place.
It can be upsetting if an existing dog is lower in the hierarchy than the newcomer. You'll all adjust. If you're soft hearted, don't worry, you won't be the first or last to shed a few tears!
Dogs and children:
Teach children in the household or those who visit regularly to treat your dog with respect. Children love to play and cuddle, sometimes more than the dogs! Make sure the dog doesn't feel stressed or pressurised by children. In particular, teach children to leave a dog that's lying in her bed in peace.
If they're old enough, get children to help out with the dog. It can help if the child feeds the dog or at least puts his bowl down for him. Putting on the lead for a walk, teaching basic commands like sit and stay, teaching tricks and grooming will all cement the relationship between child and dog and ensure the dog respects the authority of the child.
It's worth reading some basic books about dog behaviour if you're not familiar with reading a dog's body language.
Hounds in particular can make a range of noises which can be misunderstood. For example, if you tickle the inside of your dog's ears she may grumble happily in deep pleasure, but it can sound like a growl!
Rumbly sounds of excitement when you get the lead down off the hook can sound like threats.
Joyous smiles of welcome can be mistaken for snarls.
Look at the dog's over all body language. If he's relaxed, eyes closed or wagging his tail happily, these are signs of pleasure or greeting. If he's stiff, glaring and his tail is either tucked under or stiffly upright, he's likely to be defensive/aggressive/scared/angry.
It takes time:
Your rescue dog may well change over time. People report changes over weeks, months or even years. Your dog will begin to relax and grow in confidence and maturity and her behaviour will develop accordingly. With good handling many problems will disappear or become more manageable. New problems may appear! Behaviour which hasn't been in evidence at all in the rescue or foster home might appear unexpectedly once she's rehomed. Somehow, dogs seem to know when they've found their forever home and behave accordingly!
Adopting a rescue lurcher is a pleasure and a responsibility. If you have problems, please try to stick by your dog and ask for help. Nearly every problem can be dealt with and Lurcher Link has access to experts who will be more than willing to guide you.
The House Lurcher by Jackie Drakeford ( available through all good book stores)
Understanding the Working Lurcher by Jackie Drakeford ( available through all good book stores )
Running Dog Maintenance by Penny Taylor ( http://www.skycatpublications.com )