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Bringing home a GSP.


Please keep in mind that these dogs have already been to shelters or rescued from abusive or neglectful situations and we do not want them to go back to that. Please remember that the first week with a new dog in your home will always be the most difficult and please be understanding of this.

This dog doesn’t know you or that you are "safe." Foster dogs in particular, are most likely coming out of a not so great situation so please allow some time for you to get comfortable with your new dog and vice versa. You really are saving a life and if you stick with it, the rewards will be far greater than any house training accident!

Supply Checklist

*Put all of these supplies in your dog's safe area (see below)*


Secured area info

    You might think the word “secured” has a negative connotation, but your dog’s confinement area is not a negative thing. It’s positive. The area is a place your dog can call their own as they make the transition to their new home. It’s here he gets good things, like meals and their favorite toy. It sets them up for success in the process of house training and alone-time training. People often give a new dog complete freedom right away. Then, when they have an accident or chews the wrong thing, they confine them and confinement becomes punishment. If you start out giving your dog the run of the house, you’re likely setting him up for failure. Better to give them a safe, secured place, so they can make a gradual and successful transition to their new home.

Socialization do's and dont's

  • DO NOT force the dog to accept people immediately.

  • DO wait for the dog to approach people, rather than people approaching the dog

  • DO use treats and have patience if he is reticent to allow new people to touch or play with him.

  • DO encourage visitors to ignore the dog if he doesn’t come to them.

  • DO NOT lean over them or pat the top of a dog’s head. It is interpreted by some dogs as dominance and can issue a challenge or frighten them. Most dogs have no problem with this but it is always best to exercise caution.

  • DO pat the side of the dog’s neck or side of shoulder after the dog has sniffed you.

  • DO contact us if your dog cowers when meeting new people or is exhibiting behavior of being stressed or feeling unsafe. We can provide you with additional tips on proper ways to approach a fearful dog and/or assist in getting you a behavior consult.

Housetraining tips

  • Expect confusion & mistakes during the first few days even in a trained dog

  • It’s vital to use a crate and/or a confinement area so as to not allow opportunities for accidents the first week or two – also helps chew-training efforts. Set the dog up to succeed.

    • Crate: it should be just large enough for the dog to turn around in and stretch out

    • Confinement area: confine to one uncarpeted room (kitchen is ideal) with pet-proof gates

  • Start by being very regimented and structured. You can always relax the regime later but it’s very tough to start relaxed and then try to tighten up later if there’s a problem – set the dog up for success in early weeks

  • Until your dog is perfectly housetrained, he/she must be 100% supervised when they are outside the confinement area. Tethering them to you with their leash is often helpful.

  • Take your dog out frequently. Start by walking him at half-hour intervals.

  • Provide extra opportunities to eliminate outside: First thing in the morning. After eating, every 2 – 3 hours. Last thing before bed. If dog doesn’t eliminate on any particular outing, try again an hour later.

  • If you see your dog sniffing and circling in the house, take him out immediately.

  • Gradually extend the duration between opportunities, adding ~a half hour per week

  • It is reasonable to expect an adult dog to hold on 4 – 5 hours max. Of course, many dogs can hold on longer but is it humane to make them?

  • Accompany dog to eliminate – go with him rather than sending him so that: 1) you know whether he’s gone or not 2) you can reward at the right instant – praise and small food treat as he finishes • Go to the same spot to make it easier, or at least the same kind of surface

  • Praise and reward all outdoor elimination for first few days – later you can ease off the treats (okay to continue praising)

  • Interrupt him (“Ah! Ah! Let’s go outside!”) at the start of any mistakes indoors, then hustle him outside to finish. If he finishes outside, praise and reward this.
    Note: interrupt, not punish – there is zero connection to the act that happened earlier.

  • Clean all accidents thoroughly with an enzymatic cleanser (e.g. saturate area with Nature’s Miracle and liberally sprinkle baking soda on the area. Once thoroughly dry, vacuum up the baking soda)

  • Add one extra room of house at a time every few days if dog is successful supervise closely every time a room is added.

  • Sudden onset of indoor elimination in a trained dog may indicate a medical problem – consult us (if fostering) or your veterinarian immediately before getting behavior help.

  • BE PATIENT! DON’T LOSE YOUR COOL. MOST DOGS WILL HAVE ACCIDENTS IN THE BEGINNING. Note: Submissive urination is not a house training issue. Dogs/puppies can urinate a small amount with fear and excitement or to please you by showing submissiveness. You can tell the difference between submissive urination and regular housebreaking issues by the amount and circumstances in which it occurs. As the dog gets accustomed to his/her environment this should stop. Do not reprimand your dog for doing this. It could actually increase the behavior.

Playtime cautions


Physical games like tug-of-war, wrestling, jumping and teasing should not be encouraged. Inciting a dog’s crazy behavior tends to confuse him. The owner has to be able to control his/her dog at all times. Even in play, your dog has to know that you are the leader. Once that is established, play rules can be adjusted accordingly.

When walking your dog, always keep your dog on a leash. It is extremely important with a new dog that you make sure her collar fits snugly. If she is startled and backs away from you, make sure her head can’t come out of the collar. A new dog, in a new environment, will be gone in a second and may not come back to you. She doesn’t know you and has no reason to take heed of you.

house training
social + secured
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