Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Getting a dog - Bella the border collie

Some of the things new, about-to-be, dog owners worry about:

We have some ideas where we would like her to sleep, but how do you tell a dog to sleep in a specific spot? She might ignore her bed altogether! Our idea is to ask for the blanket she sleeps on now in the shelter, it'll have her scent and we can change it after a few days when she settles in.

Should we get a crate and close her in it, at least at first until she gets used to the house? It seems to make sense for puppies, but none of the advice on crate training talks about a two year old dog. She appears to be house trained already so is it really necessary? We're more worried about barking and Bella being stressed than we are about some little accidents. Crates seem cruel - even though they aren't - but it does mean we won't like doing it and so it'll be harder for us to stick to it. Maybe a nervous dog might like an enclosed space?

How do we teach her to spend time alone? Or to not worry about whether we'll come back. Not only at night, when we'll be sleeping in another room, but if we have to go out without her? It won't happen more than a couple of hours a week, but getting a dog sitter or being trapped in the house isn't going to work either.

Will she be Ok in the car? We have so many places we want to bring her! Including to our friends and relatives who have dogs. Also the beach, the off leash parks, my parents' caravan park and rivers and parks in Ballina. If she can't handle cars how will we even get her home from the shelter? If she's scared apparently we should yawn and relax and pretend nothing is wrong, so they say in the books (the best way to deal with inappropriate fear is to ignore it.) In practice it will be very hard to overcome the human urge to comfort her, which will only make things worse.

Do we really need to "dog proof" the house, and is that even possible? Would it be better to leave things as they are and accept some damage is inevitable and deal with it if and when it happens? Personally I don't care about "stuff", but I am concerned about Bella getting an electrical shock or swallowing something!

We have a chance on Thursday to ask these questions when Dogs Trust do our house inspection, or on Saturday when we pick her up. There's going to be an element of learning no matter how many books we read or advice we get. I guess we'll figure it out as we go along and we shouldn't worry.