Helpful Hints When Brining Home Your New Addition

Congratulations on adopting your newest family member!

Don’t forget, we’re here to support you with any challenges that may come up. If you are struggling with training or a behavioral issue, please contact the MPBF Volunteer who helped you adopt your dog or

Get Off to a Great Start

Until your pet learns house rules, don’t give him unsupervised access to rooms with sofas, beds or any other furniture you don’t want him on. Instead, spend time with your pet in those rooms, and be ready to gently but persistently discourage him from jumping up on the furniture. It may help to leave a short leash on your dog if he tries to hop up on your sofa. The moment he does, say “Oops!” Then take hold of his leash and gently lead him away from the sofa.

During “chill time” together, teach your dog that you’d like him to hang out on his own bed rather than on your furniture. Tie a short tether (about four feet in length) to the leg of a sofa. Place your dog’s bed next to the tether. When you’re ready to sit back and relax, tether your dog and give him something exciting to chew. (Try a new bully stick, rawhide or stuffed Kong toy.) While he works on his treat, you can sit on the sofa and read a book or watch TV.

Introduce your new dog to other animals in the home SLOWLY. Walking into a new home, surrounded by unfamiliar people and animals, is stressful for your new pet. The stress may result in unnecessary fights and start your pets’ relationship off on the wrong foot. Instead, set up a crate in a quiet room where your new pet can begin to adjust slowly to the smells of the house. For the first few days, let the new dog get used to you and the smells of your home. Slowly, introduce the new dog to the different members of the house (one at a time). Keep initial introductions short and always end on a positive note. As your new dog becomes comfortable with all of the members of the house, integrate them into more household activities until they are just another family member.


Use dog crates and gates to confine your new dog when home alone until his house manners earn him unsupervised freedom. This prevents accidents and chewing of potentially hazardous items.

Provide plenty of “legal” things for your dog to chew. If he has attractive toys and bones of his own, he’ll be much less likely to gnaw on your things!

Be sure to give your dog at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise—running, fetching, playing or swimming—each day. A tired dog will be much less likely to engage in destructive behavior.

A busy dog will be much better behaved, too. Consider feeding your pet in food-puzzle toys when he has to stay home alone. If he spends his time working for his chow, he’ll be less likely to look for other ways to alleviate his boredom—like chewing on furniture legs or unstuffing couches.

Pit bulls are SMART and love to learn! Training activities also helps bond dogs and their owners. Doing a little bit of training each day (5-10 minutes) is a great way to keep your dog’s skills sharp. It also tires out their mind and is the equivalent of about 30 minutes of physical activity.

Nothing in life is free for you, and it shouldn’t be for your dog either. Ask your dog to perform a task in order to get what they want. A well-mannered dog should sit politely before receiving their food bowl or being leashed to go outside. Consistent, positive human leadership is important to help your dog succeed.

Dogs learn best using positive reinforcement. Rewarding your dog for good behavior instead of punishing him for bad behavior will produce longer-lasting, more consistent training results. It will also promote a stronger bond between you and your pet. Rewards for good behavior can include food, toys, affection, or anything else the dog loves.  

Remember to increase your pet’s roaming privileges slowly, room by room. Going from restriction to complete freedom can set a pet up to fail.


We recommend all dogs be fed twice daily. Simply divide the amount suggested on the label of your pet’s food into two meals, spaced eight to twelve hours apart. You may need to adjust portions as you learn your dog’s ideal daily “maintenance” amount.

Inexpensive dog foods are loaded with “bad” ingredients—chemicals, fillers and by-products—which can lead to malnutrition and a number of adverse health conditions.  Instead of taking the risk with one of these inexpensive brands, select a premium dog food with all-natural, human grade ingredients.  The benefits to your pet, both nutritionally and medically, will be well worth the extra cost. is a great resource for identifying quality dog foods. Here are some guidelines for reading pet food labels:

Look for whole protein sources at the very top of the ingredient list like ‘beef,’ ‘turkey,’ ‘lamb’ or ‘chicken’ - one-word descriptions. Meat and fat ingredients should be identified by species (turkey, lamb, beef, fish, etc.). Avoid any formula that uses unidentified sources, (e.g. ‘meat,’ ‘animal’ or ‘poultry.’) Meat meal (with the meat source identified, as in ‘chicken meal’ or ‘turkey meal’) is acceptable.

The next ingredients should be vegetables (avoid corn, wheat or beet pulp) and unless the formula is grain-free (which we recommend), a whole grain source like brown rice. Grain-free formulas will frequently use potatoes as the starch, to hold thee food together.

Whole fruits are fine.

Avoid food containing corn or soy in any form. They are not nutritious and are frequently linked to allergic symptoms.

Avoid products containing meat by-products.

Treats should be given in moderation and should represent five percent or less of the dog’s daily food intake. The rest should come from a nutritionally complete dog food. When using treats frequently, such as during training exercises, try to use the smallest pieces you can.

Obesity is an extremely common problem in pets and, as with humans, can be detrimental to the health of a dog. The overweight pet has many added stresses upon his body and is at an increased risk of diabetes, liver problems and joint pain.

Keep Your Pet’s Eating and Sleeping Areas Tidy

A large, absorbent placemat under food and water bowls will make for easier clean-up after messy eaters.

Frequently wash your pet’s blanket and bedding; use a lint roller on pillows.

If you have cats, scoop the poop out of your cat’s litter box at least once or twice a day. Some dogs consider cat poop a delicacy (we know - it’s gross!)


If you use a product that contains ammonia to clean up your pet's urine, you won't be able to smell remaining odors, but your pet will! In fact, ammonia-based cleaners can actually attract pets and encourage them to urinate where they've made mistakes before. Instead, have on-hand a special enzymatic cleaner specifically made for cleaning up pet messes—all major pet stores carry them. For best results, be sure to follow the directions on the product label.


Regularly trim and file your pet’s nails. Overly long nails can split or break when the dog runs.

Brush pooch regularly to remove dead skin and hair that will otherwise end up on furniture and floors. The Furminator (Available at most major pet stores) is great for pit bull coats!

Trim the hair around your pet’s bottom to help keep excrement from clinging. Some dogs may also need their anal glands expressed regularly to prevent an impaction. If you prefer to do this at home, your groomer or vet can show you how.

Adapted from articles by Jacque Lynn Schultz, Director, ASPCA Companion Animals Program Advisor, and Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, Senior Vice President, ASPCA National Program Office.