NEW HOMES for ADULT LOWCHEN

by Jeanne Thomas, CPDT-KA 

 

Jeanne is a certified pet dog trainer with several canine family members including Raleigh, a Lowchen.


Jeanne ThomasLöwchen are relatively rare, and happily are not popular with puppy mill breeders, so the numbers of adult Löwchen needing placements is low compared to more numerous breeds and popular mixed breeds.  But whether they are retired champions or beloved pets relinquished by owners in financial or physical distress, there are sometimes adult Löwchen that need new homes.
 
Once the greater Löwchen community knows there’s a Löwchen that needs a home and especially once a picture starts circulating, part of the marketing is easy.  We love our breed and know that Löwchen have many virtues: they’re companionable, healthy, alert, athletic, playful, and intelligent as well as darned cute.  But because many people looking for pets often assume that buying a puppy is the best way to get a good dog, we may have to promote the advantages of adopting an adult Löwchen, instead of waiting for a puppy. 
 
How to convince someone that an adult placement CAN be best?  An adult dog that has been properly screened, even if it has some identified health or behavior problems, can be MUCH easier for a novice or busy dog owner to deal with than an adorable but oh-so-demanding puppy that is a blank slate.  Breeders and fosterers can take time to get to know the individual dog well so they can assure a potential owner that the adult dog:
 

  • Has already been screened for health issues

  • Has been screened for behavior problems with humans 

  • Has been screened for sociability with other dogs

  • Is comfortable with being handled and groomed

  • Has outgrown puppy destructiveness and puppy high energy (or not)

  • Is comfortable and calm spending time in a crate or kennel (or not)

  • Is already neutered or spayed and often up to date on inoculations

  • Has an adult size bladder, which makes housetraining quicker and easier than with a puppy


When screening potential adopters of an adult Löwchen, we also need to be honest about any behaviors that a potential Löwchen adopter should be ready to work with:
 

  • Löwchen can be vocal - barking in response to passersby, visitors and odd noises, as well as barking or howling when lonely or isolated

  • Löwchen need companionship, interaction, training, exercise and good chew toys, or they get bored (and bored dogs get into trouble!)

  • Löwchen coats require regular care in order to stay easy to care for

  • Löwchen may be small, but they are not necessarily submissive to people or to other dogs.  Resource guarding and pushy behavior might crop up as the dog tries to adapt to its new environment.

 
Once a new home is found, a successful transition requires some care and effort on the part of the adopting family.  Here are some techniques that can help new Löwchen owners, or people who are fostering Löwchen before permanent placement.

 

Bringing Your New (Adult) Dog Home
 

Don’t take house training for granted!

Before bringing your new adult Löwchen into your home, take them outdoors to the area you want them to relieve themselves.  Praise and reward them for using the proper spot; let them sniff around and get familiar before you hustle them indoors.  Plan to accompany them to that spot frequently throughout the day for the first few weeks with treat rewards in your pockets, to be sure that your Löwchen learns that peeing and pooping in the proper place is a good thing.

 
It may also be useful to introduce a new adult to your home a room at a time: for the first few weeks, use baby gates, tethers and crates to keep the dog either in your sight or safely contained in a dog proofed area.  Introduce the dog to a room at a time while you are there to make sure that all is well. After spending time in each room, take the dog back out to their potty area and reward successful pees and poops.  Do not give the new dog the run of your house unsupervised, until you are certain he has developed a habit of using the proper outdoor area.
 

Introduce your dog to your other animals, slowly

If you have another dog, have the first meeting with your new Löwchen be on leash in neutral territory.  Have a friend or family member handle your resident dog while you stand nearby with your new Löwchen.  Let them see each other from a distance, far enough away that they can both stay relaxed.  Reward them for good behavior with treats as you have the dogs walk parallel to each other.  Slowly move closer and closer as you walk your parallel paths, keeping the leash loose and rewarding the dogs for continued calmness.  If either dog becomes too agitated, increase the distance between the dogs until they again relax.

 
When your dogs have gotten bored with all the walking back and forth, are showing relaxed body postures and are taking each other for granted, let them approach each other for a sniff.  KEEP YOUR LEASHES LOOSE while the dogs sniff, then call them away and move them apart; reward them for coming back to their handlers.  Walk a little more, then again let them sniff.  If you have been patient enough, the sniff will be peaceful and matter of fact and you’ll be ready to take both dogs home.
 
If both dogs need to ride home in the same car together, be prepared with a travel kennel and/or seat belt harnesses to restrain the dogs from motion and keep them out of each other’s faces.  You, the driver, don’t need any dog arguments to distract you!
 
When you get your Löwchen home, use crates and baby gates to keep him separated from your other pets, especially during meals or when chewing desirable bones and toys. Switch your dogs from room to room so they can get used to each other’s smells.  It can be helpful to rub each pet, including your new Löwchen, down with a towel, and then put those towels around so that the animals can sniff each other’s odors.
 

Watch your pets’ body language and vocalizations as a guide to how close you should let them approach each other - be prepared to separate them farther, if the animals are disturbed or anxious. Reward them for looking at each other peacefully and for showing relaxed behaviors. Watch for welcoming and playful body language toward each other, and praise and reward that, too.
 
Some dogs can be allowed more contact with your other pets on the first day, but some dogs may need to be kept separate for several days before they spend time together under your supervision.  If you have cats, be sure to give them some dog free zones and safe havens, so they can easily retreat from an over-enthusiastic Löwchen.
 

Start training right away

Test your new dog for responsiveness to common cues such as sit, down and come.  Use treats to lure and reward these behaviors, if necessary, and ask your new dog to perform some polite behaviors for you before you do anything good for your dog - before petting, before playing, before meals, before running free in the yard or going for a walk.

 

Help your dog(s) relax

Have excellent chew toys/bones available for quiet chewing; take your new dog for walks to stretch and tire out muscles, and spend quiet time daily giving a slow gentle massage to each of your animals.  You might find it helpful to get some dog calming recordings to play during massage times and throughout the day, to help your new dog and any other resident animals feel more calm and comfortable.

 

Resources for new dog adopters:
 

  • Andrea Arden, Dog Friendly Dog Training, Second Edition - a great basic training book focusing on positive techniques for novice pet owners.  Includes techniques to deal with common dog behavior problems.

  • Patricia McConnell, How to be the Leader of the Pack - a short but useful guide to setting boundaries without intimidation and becoming the benevolent leader.

  • Joshua Leeds and Lisa Spector, Through A Dog’s Ear, Music to Calm Your Canine Companion, Volumes 1 and 2 - lovely relaxed piano arrangements of classical music, calibrated to relax your dog (and you) and reduce anxiety.  These recordings may induce napping with a Löwchen on your chest.

  • Pat Miller, Play With Your Dog- any Lowchen owner should be ready to play! 

  • Pat Miller, Do Over Dogs - Give Your Dog A Second Chance For A First Class Life- a good book on using positive training techniques to help overcome behavior issues and develop good household manners.

  • ASPCA Virtual Animal Behaviorist, www.aspcabehavior.org - an online resource of reputable advice for pet training and behavior

  • www.dogstardaily.com - an online resource and community for sensible, positive, and effective dog training for puppies and adult dogs, based on the training approach of Dr. Ian Dunbar, author of How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks and many other training books.

  • Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers, www.cappdt.ca

  • Association of Pet Dog Trainers (US) www.apdt.com

  • Certification Council of Professional Pet Dog Trainers, www.ccpdt.org - use the Trainer Search to find a local trainer and to help get your pack over the challenges of having a new dog.   Before you make a date, ask the trainer what techniques they use - Löwchen work very well with reward based training techniques (the phrases clicker training, rewards, lure and reward, desensitization and counter conditioning are all verbal clues to trainers who teach gentle techniques).  In my experience, Löwchen resist or resent force based training, so avoid trainers who advocate choke chains, prong collars, e-collars, or are focused on dominance as a dog-human relationship paradigm.


Article: © Jeanne Thomas, CPDT-KA, 2011
Photo: © Mike Haddad, 2011