Is Moving Stressful?
... it sure is, especially for your new dog!
If you never owned a Doberman before, or never rescued one, consider what you are about to learn REQUIRED reading.
When you apply to adopt from us, you will complete an application that helps us assess your lifestyle and knowledge of adopting this active, working, intelligent breed. The interview and review may seem rigid; that's because it it is and for good reason.
We make every effort to learn as much about our applicants as possible, not because we don't want to adopt a dog to you, but because we want to make sure a Doberman will fit into your lifestyle and to determine which dog will be a good match, because each one has his/her own unique personality and needs. Will a young, untrained, active dog fit into your small apartment with no yard and no access to a yard while you are at work 8 hours a day? Probably not, but maybe a better fit is a more mature Doberman who is just looking for a warm bed, a couple walks a day and cuddling at home. Where do you live? Will the dog adapt well to city life with lots of stimulation or to rural life where a high prey drive might have him barking his head off the entire day? Or will he/she stress everyone out by constantly chasing the cat? These are just a few details we need to factor in as we collect information on you. We are doing our due diligence to ensure a dog will be well cared for and will be placed in his/her forever home and not be bounced out of another home.
Keep in mind that many of the dogs taken into rescue are under a lot of stress from being uprooted to a new environment or other reasons such as lack of attention, exercise, socialization, training, housebreaking, and more. After we approve an applicant and feel you are ready to help your new pet overcome these issues, we require that you thoroughly read and digest these tips that will help you and your new pet achieve success by developing the resilience he/she needs to overcome the anxiety which often develops from such a traumatic change.
In order to avoid setting up your dog for failure when he/she arrives in a new home, it is critical that you allow the dog quiet time. Many resilient dogs are just happy to be with people and want to explore a new home and adapt almost immediately. Then there are those who don't. You cannot tell the level of resilience your new dog has until something goes wrong. Hence, we insist all new adopters give their new dog at least one week with just the immediate family; no visitors (animal or human). Create a small, confined area (a single room or a covered crate) where the dog can go until he/she understands the household routines which eases a dog's stress by being able to foresee what will be happening next. In other words, routine minimizes surprises and reduces stress. It will make the dog much more comfortable to know what to expect as opposed to something unpredictable that can trigger fear, anxiety and maybe even undesirable reactivity.
Many adopters are anxious to start playing and cuddling with their new dog. Again, this should be avoided for the first few days until the dog gets to know you, his/her surroundings, and is comfortable and familiar. It also allows you to read your dog's cues of what he might like or not like. For example, you might find a dog backs off a little bit when you go to pet him/her on the top of his/her head. Take that cue and let the dog approach you, move slowly, and maybe even just scratch him/her on under the chin. And always reward the dog when he/she does something positive either with a high-value treat, a non-intimidating petting, or a toy.
You also may be surprised to learn that many of the dog's behaviors that seem adorable or naughty at first are hidden anxieties manifested from the dog's previous life and/or due to the change in surroundings. Think of how excited your dog gets when he sees you and jumps around and licks your face. Many love being "kissed" by our dog, but licking is also an appeasement behavior that dogs do when they are nervous or anxious, and not just because they're happy and in love. Or perhaps you think your dog is being spiteful because he/she urinates or defecates when you're not home (or even when you're there). If there are no health issues, it's most likely the dog is just nervous and anxious. Punishing the dog will only make it worse. If an accident occurs, be calm and clean it up. What if your dog is barking incessantly? Do you yell at him/her or punish him/her for being scared? Some may even think of using an electronic training collar to solve this issue, but this severe and painful punishment technique will likely increase his/her insecurity and fears.
Remember, dogs do NOT know spite. If you think your dog's bad behavior is spite, think again. The dog is likely anxious and that is what is triggering the behavior. Punishing these fearful behaviors will only make it worse. If you are having a specific issue, please contact your adoption representative for advice. If you are in a position to engage a dog behaviorist and/or dog trainer, be sure to check their credentials and get a recommendation. Choose a trainer who uses positive reinforcement techniques and not punishment.