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Adding A Mature Dog to Your Life

Congratulations on your decision to add a new furry pal to your life!  We are so excited for you and we know, with some patience and effort, you'll have a new forever friend on your hands.


We just wanted to make you aware of our adult dogs' basic training and behaviours as a starting place for your future together.  Your new dog has been carefully raised to ensure that he/she has a solid foundation of going to the bathroom outside, respectful behaviour towards her human friends, and a general love of life.  I think you are going to really enjoy her!



Your new pal is currently “free fed” Kirkland Nature's Domain Salmon and Sweet Potato.  She will only eat when hungry and self manage. She does not need to be on a scheduled or restricted feed. You can essentially fill her dish and she’ll eat as needed. We’ve found this an excellent way to manage our dogs and they typically maintain a really good weight.  We pick up the dog food and water bowls about 1.5 hours before bed time and this will help them hold it through the night.  As the dog is spayed and spends more time with you, you may find her weight changes. If she ever gets to the point that she loses her waistline and you can't feel her ribs, then limiting her feed can be considered, but for most this is unnecessary.


Treats and Bones:

I’m sure she’ll be happy to eat whatever you want to offer her.  Use caution with rich treats or too many, as she hasn’t had a huge variety yet and you wouldn’t want her to get diarrhea.  Also keep in mind that this breed is predisposed to sensitivities and one of them is to chicken… so if you notice a real increase in “itchiness”, you may want to consider what you’ve added to their diet beyond their Kirkland food and the odd raw hide bone.



Spend the first few days enjoying your new dog in your own home and yard.  Walks will add a whole new degree of stress and it's best that she gets used to you and the new place she is living before adding on this new experience. Once you feel the dog is comfortable with you, it's time to give leashed walks a try.  If possible, initially avoid areas with high traffic and other pedestrians.  If you see someone coming towards you with another dog, just walk off the path and continue calmly on.  Remember that your new dog has spent her whole life on a private acreage so this may be the first random stranger she's ever had approach her on a walk.  Continue calmly walking and teach the dog that the stranger or new occurrence doesn't alarm you and it shouldn't alarm her either.  Off leash areas should be avoided until your new dog knows you well, is thoroughly settled in, and is "coming" on command consistently in your yard and home.  We've included a video here to show you what kind of walk your dog was doing before joining you!  Lots of friends and adventure... but no traffic or strangers!

Dog Apparel:

We are finding that families are increasingly sending us pictures of their new dog wearing jackets, booties or human costumes just a short while after being added to their home.  While it's fun to buy these items and eventually most dogs tolerate wearing a wide range of things, please WAIT to add apparel into the dog's life. Being dressed up and stuffed into something uncomfortable, stiff and unusual is just another NEW thing that a dog has to adjust to.  Please allow several weeks acclimatizing to your home, your human family and your yard, THEN add in walks to carefully picked locations that are low interaction, low stress options.  Once all of these elements are going well, THEN consider adding in apparel.  Yes, it might be cold out, but the dog you're getting from us as never worn clothes and they've done really well outside and on walks without clothes to this point.  You can also simply use your yard, and skip the doggie apparel initial, by avoiding walking all together if it's below -15C.  Your dog will thank you for keeping the life changes they need to work through minimal and added just a small baby step at a time.


Our dogs typically go to bed around 9 pm.  They sleep quietly in their kennel, without accidents until around 8 am.  You may hear some crying from your new dog initially, but this will just be him settling in and having some anxiety about a new place.  The vast majority of our dogs enjoy sleeping in their kennel and like the safely and security of having their own "den" to sleep in.  Starting your new dog in a kennel in your home will help the dog feel safe and secure. It will also eliminate confusion regarding cueing you and accidents in the night, or if you leave them alone for a few hours in the day.  Kennelling does not need to be a life long practice, but it will help start your new dog with a constant and healthy mistake-free pattern. Once the dog is settled and showing perfect potty skills for a few weeks, you can transition to nights without a kennel if you wish, or even your bed!  Now that will be a treat for your new pal!


Potty Training:

Our mature adults are perfectly doggie door trained.  They consistently do their business outside, using the doggie door whenever nature calls.  Doggie door training is not the same as full potty training and you’ll need to use space restriction, supervision and the kennel to your advantage in helping your new friend “hold it” until you take her outside.  Essentially, if you aren't actively supervising your new pal with "eye's on" have them in an exercise pen or give them some kennel time. Only give her unsupervised  freedom after a few weeks of perfection with you.  Until this time, walk her (or him!) on a leash with you around the house, and when you don’t have her on a leash, put her back in her exercise pen or a single room of your home. If you see an accident, pull her over to it, push her nose towards it, firmly tell her "no" and take her outside. She is smart and will get the connection if you are consistent.


Leash use will allow her to get used to your environment without getting into trouble.  And in the case of a male dog, this is even more important as they get used to your space without the temptation of unsupervised “marking”.  It’s best to give freedom slowly and have minimal mistakes than give too much freedom and lose the opportunity to teach your dog properly.  She will pick up the potty training up really quickly if you do restrict her space and carefully supervise.  These little guys tend to pick up "bell" training easily and can be shown to ring a bell at the door to cue you that they need to go to the bathroom.  This is as simple as hanging a bell by your door and ring that bell with the paw each time you take her out.  Since she’ll be looking for a doggie door (which you don’t have) offering her a bell and showing her how to use it will teach her how to cue you that she need to go to the bathroom.


Please do not use peepads with your new dog.  You have chosen an adult dog and using peepads will only encourage her to start going to the bathroom in your house.  She hasn't used paper or pads for years and to introduce the peepads again will be a major setback and may cause a negative spiral that opens up the door to marking or going potty in your home.

Here is a little kennel tour so you can see where your dog was raised and how different it is from your home.


Your dog has been playing with our other adult dogs on a daily basis, so they have lots of socialization practice.  Your dog has also been taught how to respect humans and enjoy snuggles and all those good things that come along with people-pals. Dog Whisperer episodes are FANTASTIC for teaching families how to be pack leaders and have a dog who is well behaved.  I’d really encourage you to access these.


Keep in mind that dogs in our kennel generally only interact with children over the kennel fence.  Getting use to strangers approaching them can take some time.  It's good to remember that any time an adult or a child puts their face into a dog’s face, they are issuing a dominant challenge to that dog…. that’s simply the way that “dog culture” interprets this behaviour.  Because of this, I would remind any children to let the dogs approach them; they should not be following them around or putting their face in the dog’s face.  This is a problem for all dogs.  Some are gracious enough to tolerate poor etiquette on a human's part and some are not.  Our dogs haven’t had enough experience to know one way or the other, so supervision to ensure the interactions remain positive remains their owner's responsibility.

While my husband and father do interact with all of our dogs, the vast majority of our helpers and volunteers are female.  Because of this, it can take an adult dog a longer period of time to become comfortable with the male members of your household or friends you have over.  Bribes can work wonders and if your new dogs slowly realizes that the men she meets are treat dispensers, she's apt to give her affection a whole lot faster. 


Your dog has had the opportunity to meet our visitors who have come to the kennel and has had plenty of cuddles with my family and staff.  They are well associated with many sights and sounds, including construction work, tractors rumbling by, paper shredder, dish washer, etc.  They will need to get used to the sight and sound of heavy traffic, however, as acreage living doesn’t give the opportunity to watch busy roads. They will also need to get used to strangers approaching them and different breeds and sizes of dogs.  Be confident, allow your dog space away from the scary things, but continue walking confidently past and show the dog by your example that there is nothing to be afraid of.



Our dogs are great about having their eyes, bum and nails trimmed.  As with all non shedding dogs, Bichon Shih Tzus need to be groomed regularly and if you keep the hair around their eyes trimmed, you’ll have less tearing.



While the bath no dog's favourite activity, we have been reinforcing the lesson that  “All four feet must stay in the bottom of the sink” during bath time and they are all very good about this.  You may find it easier to bath your new pal in a shower or bath tub due to their size. These are great dogs to brush and trim.  Bath them every two weeks.  We use Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and a conditioner.

Basic commands: 

Our dogs are well trained for what we need within our environment. This includes going outside through the doggie door to their buisness in the yard, exiting the doggie door when we ask, standing well for grooming and baths, sitting on command, respecting "no" when we ask for quiet and coming to their names.  Our dogs have NOT gone through a more advanced training regime which means they will not lay, stay, come or do any tricks on command.  What you are getting is a dog who is a polite citizen and at the perfect age to learn all of these new things from you.  Bond with the dog and once trust has been built, start a reward based obedience program and you will be amazed at how fast they will catch up!  In the meantime, enjoy what we have started with the dog and know that they are much easier to manage than a wiggly, silly puppy.


Some of our dogs head to their new homes spayed or neutered.  If not, they have been offered on a spay and neuter contract and would have only been offered if you agreed to spay or neuter the dog within a couple of months. Our dogs have already been parents and the intention is that they enjoy retirement, free of puppy care.  Please respect their need to enjoy the rest of their life free of the care of puppies, and spay and neuter as per the contract.

Car Rides:

Your dog has been on several car rides to help her get used to the sensation.  However, it’s possible you may get some “shivery behaviour” or car sickness until she feels totally comfortable.  Keeping the car rides short and positive initially will certainly help her adjust quickly and look forward to the experience.

We are so thankful for the love and care you will give your new pal.  Please keep in mind that she (or he!) is experiencing a HUGE life change.  Some drooling, shaking behaviour, lowered tail and general worry is to be expected when a life change this dramatic occurs and this worried behaviour may last for quite a while.  Treat your new pal with love and patience, give her time and she will awe you with the dog she becomes.  Please remember that your new pal is fully returnable and we are HAPPY to have her back at any time you feel things are not working out. Our goal is that our dog finds a happy home and you are completely satisfied with your new family member.

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