TIP #1: HOME-ALONE DOGS NEED AN OCCUPATION
Preparing dogs for inevitable periods of solitary confinement - and specifically teaching them how to occupy their time when left at home alone - is the most pressing humane consideration for any new dog in any household. Every dog requires some form of enjoyable occupational therapy. Vocational chewtoy chewing is the easiest and most enjoyable solution.
Dogs are crepuscular (most active at dawn and dusk), and so it is pretty easy to teach them how to calmly pass the time of day. During your dog's first few days and weeks at home, regularly confine him to a crate with stuffed chewtoys. Prepare the pup for your absence when you are present. When at home, it is possible to monitor your dog's behavior when confined for numerous short periods throughout the day. Your dog's first impressions of an established daily routine create an acceptable and enjoyable status quo for years to come.
TIP #2: LAUGH IT OFF WHEN THINGS GO WRONG
You will make mistakes that scare your new dog. You will drop something that makes a loud noise, or perhaps even accidentally falls right on her. You will stumble over your dog. You will get caught in her leash. You will turn on the TV set without realizing that the volume is cranked all the way up. These loud noises and unexpected commotions frighten almost all dogs that are new to a home.
When you accidentally frighten your dog, it's best to laugh it off immediately and play a quick round of The Jollies. Basically, you want to act as if you're having fun, in effect saying, "That is so cool that I tripped over you and dropped the groceries and now there's a broken glass jar that we all get to stay away from. Wow!" This is not unlike responding to a child who's taken a tumble. Children and dogs look to us to see if they should be upset or not. Have fun while you move your dog to safety, and continue doing The Jollies while you clean up the mess and give her a treat or two. If she's hiding just keep doing The Jollies. Don't try to pet her or lure her out, though you may leave a few treats for her to take when she is ready. You're trying to teach her that the world is filled with unexpected and startling events, but we don't have to fear them.
- excerpted from Training The Best Dog Ever
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, CTDI