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)*

  • 01

    Dogproofing your home

    Dogs, especially young or untrained ones, are like children and will get into everything. This can be very stressful for you and, at worst, your house can be deadly for your dog.

     Kitchen cleansers, soaps, drain cleaners, detergents, cleaners, anti-freeze, paint removers, garden supplies such as weed killers, snail bait, fertilizers, many plants and bulbs (inside and out), chocolate, grapes, raisins, garlic, onions, avocado and alcohol are all poisonous to dogs. Dog-proofing your home also means making sure that you have secure high fences and gates that are locked.

  • 02

    Set up a secured area

    Set up a secured area, a place your dog will stay when you can’t provide 100% supervision i.e. you’re out, or busy around the house, and can’t watch him the entire time. The ideal area should be easy to clean and easy to close off with a door or baby gate. It should be mostly free of furniture and non-dog related objects (remember, everything is a potential chew toy to a dog!).  Other than a crate, the best places for a secured area are the kitchen, laundry room, porch, empty spare room or small indoor/outdoor area. Furnish the area with a bed or a crate with something soft to sleep on, a water bowl and several toys, including a favorite bone or chew toy.

    *The secured area should be the only place your dog gets to have their favorite toy. See below for more on secured areas.*

  • 03


    When you arrive at home, take your dog out for a walk or bathroom break.

    Introduce him on leash to his new home, including his secured area.

    Give your dog a chew bone or a stuffed Kong and leave him alone in the secured area for about 5 minutes. "Good things happen in this secured area!"

    If your dog begins to howl, whine, or bark, wait until he has been quiet for at least ten seconds before you respond.

    Being alone doesn’t come naturally to dogs, so leave him alone in his secured area while you go out or spend time in another part of the house. Vary the length of your absences, from 30 seconds to 20 minutes, and repeat them throughout the day.

  • 04

    Quiet time

    We recommend that after you bring your new dog home, let him check out the area of the house where they are allowed and let them figure things out for 2-3 hours with you supervising. If you can, wait a couple of days before inviting friends etc. over to meet the new dog. Quiet time with their immediate family is important. If the dog wants to play a bit with you, that’s fine but any interaction with young children at this time is not recommended. If the dog does not solicit play or attention from you, let them establish themselves for a while. Don’t force them to play.

  • 05


    If your GSP won't be sleeping in your bed, put a  safe chew toy in your dog’s crate or sleeping area when you leave him for the night. He may have trouble settling in at first, but he should eventually relax and go to sleep. Remember, it’s important not to let your dog out of his area if he’s crying or barking. If he gets attention for barking, he’ll keep it up for long periods of time.

  • 06


    The All Points West family usually feeds our dogs Premium Dry Dog Food. We prefer no-grain foods. These may be a bit more expensive however we find the dogs are healthier, shed less, are better behaved and overall we tend not to have problems with these foods. A good diet can make a big difference for the rest of a dog’s life. You will do well for your dogs, if you buy a good quality dry dog food (one without by-products). Supplement it with some dehydrated raw or canned food, leftover vegetables or lean meat scraps. Dogs with allergies or dry skin can often be helped with an Omega fatty acid supplement or salmon oil. Some of our favorites brands are Taste of the Wild, Canidae, Wellness, Natural Balance and Merrick. A raw food diet is another healthy option for your dog.

    For more information, on a raw diet please contact us at allpointswestsgsp@gmail.com, we're happy to give you some suggestions or point you in the right direction for recipes.

  • 07


    Just as your dog needs proper nutrition from his food, water is an essential “nutrient” as well. Water keeps the dog’s body properly hydrated and promotes normal function of the body’s systems. During housebreaking, it is necessary to keep an eye on how much water your dog is drinking.  Limiting water access in the evening can help avoid overnight accidents.  Once he is reliably trained, he should have access to clean fresh water at all times. Make sure that the dog’s water bowl is clean and change the water often.

  • 08


    Rescue dogs come from a variety of backgrounds but all dogs can do with more socialization! After your new dog has had some time to settle in and he is showing some confidence in you, give him lots of pleasant social experiences. He should be able to meet people (and other dogs, if he’s not dog-aggressive) at home and near home. Then eventually take him to new places like parks, obedience school, etc. Make sure you allow your new dog to be handled by other people only after he has a chance to trust you. Then do introductions to other people gradually. Family members should be first then friends he knows. Introductions can take the form of petting, playing fetch, even going for a walk with a trusted, dog-oriented friend.

    *See below for socialization dos and don'ts.*

  • 09


    Dogs need both physical exercise and mental stimulation. Remember: A tired GSP is a happy GSP!

    Depending on your dog’s energy level, he will benefit greatly from daily aerobic exercise. Off-leash romps in secured areas, running or jogging, interactive games such as fetch, all help burn energy and keep your dog from getting bored and frustrated. (Don’t let your dog off leash in unsecured areas that have not been approved by an APWGSPR representative , and make sure he wears an ID tag.) E-Collars are a great resource when used correctly and with caution. If you planning on using one, we ask that you discuss this with one of our volunteers just to make both you and your dog are set up for success. Understanding when to use an e-collar is as important as knowing how to use one. We have unfortunately seen GSP's come into rescue and it is apparent that their previous experience with an e-collar was not a positive one so if you are not familiar with their use, please contact us. Daily obedience training and food “puzzle” toys provide your dog with mental stimulation. (Feeding just one meal from a kong can greatly reduce stress or anxiety in your GSP). Dog training classes help burn off mental and physical energy. They also provide an opportunity to practice off-leash recalls. Training classes are fun for dogs and people alike.

    *See below for playtime cautions.*

  • 10


    Some adult dogs are not housetrained. If your dog has an accident, it’s not because he’s incapable or unintelligent, it’s because he has not been properly trained. To successfully housetrain your dog, you need to treat him like an 8- week-old pup. The confinement area is your key to success.

    *See below for housetraining tips.*

  • 11


    Your new dog needs your patience and affection, especially if he has been in many different situations recently. Whenever he does something good, be sure to let him know! Happy praise and affection really helps him to know that you care and that he is good. This includes if he is lying quietly and behaving himself…. Let him know that this is desirable behavior.


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.


Contact Us

PO Box 2822

Elizabeth, CO 80107

Copyright © 2020 All Points West GSP Rescue, All rights reserved.

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