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I adopted a 1.5 year old golden retriever 6 days ago and now have some questions on variety of topics and would appreciate any help!

  1. Paw adjustment to concrete: My dog's previous home has a suburban house with a decent size grassy back yard on a hillside. She loves to play fetch and wonder around outside. My house has a fenced in yard, but it is probably 75% concrete (some of the concrete is pretty rough, most of the rest is grass and a smaller area of mulch). If we go on walks, it is pretty much all concrete besides a few planters with trees for a few blocks before we can reach some parks or more grassy areas. Should I limit her play outside and walks for a little while for her paws adjust to being on concrete much more than grass? If so, how long would her paws probably take to adjust?
  2. Fetch injuries: Along that same line, much of my yard is pretty narrow and I am worries about her getting hurt while playing fetch in the yard. I attached 2 pictures of my yard, but basically there is probably a 75-100 ft lane for her to run, but it is pretty narrow and a wider area of grass and a concrete patio that are smaller. Whenever she runs after a ball along, she is fully focused on the ball and doesn't pay much attention to her surroundings which results in her brushing up very close (and forcefully) against some of the concrete ledges and fencing and also results in her sometimes turning around very abruptly in a narrow space if the ball suddenly bounces in a different direction. I am worried about her getting hurt from this. I thought I saw her favoring her back paw a little bit the other day (she still runs around a lot and I haven't noticed anything unusual since, so I am not sure if she was actually having any issues or not). Am I being overly protective or is this a legitimate concern? She has a moderate amount of energy, so I want to play with her in the yard to get exercise. She doesn't walk well on a leash (we are working on this) so taking her to a park often or walking more to burn her out aren't great options right now, but I am hoping they will be soon.
  3. What are safe crate toys? She is crate trained and seems pretty content in her crate at night and when I have to leave as long as she brings a tennis ball in with her. Is a tennis ball (or other ball) a safe toy for her to have in her crate when I'm not supervising? She will just move the ball around or chew on it as a whole (she doesn't try to destroy it) when she plays with the balls by herself. Are nylabones and other toys that she is unlikely to break ok to have in her crate?
  4. Peeing- Her previous owner said she only pees 2-3 times a day and poops once. She has pooped every day that I have had her and at relatively consistent times, but I have only witnessed her pee once or so a day (I watch when she is outside, but it is possible I have missed some times, but unlikely that I missed very many). I let her out several times a day (probably >6) and we play in the yard and have attempted walks, so she has ample opportunity to go, but just doesn't try. She drinks plenty of water (I am not sure if this is her normal amount, but it seems like it could be), has been eating normally (didn't eat much this morning, but otherwise has been), and has been playing and acting normally (to the best of my knowledge, again, have only had her for 6 days). Is this normal for a dog to urinate that infrequently (especially for a dog that may still be adjusting to a new home)? Are there anything tips you have to cue her to go at certain times (like in the morning before I have to leave for work)?
Thank you for any help you can provide on any of the topics!

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Not an expert by any means, but I'll try to give some advice based on what I do know!

1) Most dogs adjust pretty well to different surfaces, but every so often you will get one with sensitive pads. I'd check her feet after she's been playing in the yard or other hard surface for the first couple weeks, but if you don't notice any damage/injuries, I wouldn't worry too much. Basically it's a case of be aware but optimistic, imo.

2) Can't speak to this one, I'm afraid. Hope someone else can chime in for you!

3) Stuffable food toys like the Kong Classic (appropriately sized - if you're not sure go bigger) are the gold standard of unsupervised toys. These have the advantage of, well, being able to be stuffed with food to encourage your dog to chew, which both relieves boredom and has a natural calming effect. Something like a nylabone will be pretty safe too - basically you want something that either can hold up to heavy chewing or is designed to only break up in small, rice-sized pieces like the nylabone. Nothing that can break or splinter. Tennis balls - especially ones designed for literal tennis - aren't appropriate, I'm afraid. They do pop from being chewed on occasion, and I have heard of the rare event of a piece getting lodged in a dog's throat when this happens. Rare, mind you! But it wouldn't be worth the risk to me. Additionally, human tennis balls for actual tennis have a very rough, abrasive surface, and will wear down a dog's teeth with frequent or prolonged chewing. Fine for fetch, not so much to chew! Balls designed and marketed for dogs are typically safer in both respects, but unless they're specifically marketed for chewing I still wouldn't leave a big dog with them unsupervised.

4) That does seem like not a lot of peeing, especially for a young, active dog. I'd actually try to keep a record of when you see her going for a few days - just jotting down the time and location (and maybe color, if you can tell, kind of weird I know but bear with me) in a notebook or on a word document or what have you - just so you can get as accurate a view as possible on her potty habits. If it still seems like she's only peeing once a day, I'd actually give a vet a call. That's where the notes will come in handy, because you have a record and can tell them if the urine seems concentrated (darker colored) or not. They should be able to tell you if it's something she needs to be checked out for. This is also assuming there's no way for her to sneak off and pee inside! Some dogs will do this if they've been punished during potty training. They've learned not to pee in front of people, rather than not to pee in the house.

You can train a dog to potty on command! It might be slow going with her. The idea is to be right with her every time she potties, and to learn her body language so you can tell her 'go potty' (or whatever you want her potty cue to be) right as - or ideally right before - she squats. Then a big reward for a successful potty (treat, play, whatever she likes). You can take it one step further and use different cues for pee and poop. With enough repetition, your dog should learn exactly what you want when you say the potty cue. I have heard some people say to avoid using words you might say in normal conversation as a potty cue, like 'hurry up' for example, in case your dog gets too enthusiastic about following the command when they hear it in a non-potty context. I confess I haven't personally trained this one with my dogs, so all of this is just theory on my end, based on what I've read and heard. Lots of dogs do it successfully though, including service dogs and lots of sports/show/etc. dogs, so it's very possible, and there's more information about it out there.
 

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Thank you for the reply!

For 1-2, I am pretty sure I am being paranoid about her getting hurt (I am a physical therapist, so injuries and walking irregularities are a big focus of my life). She seems to be adapting to the concrete and smaller are fine and I will just keep an eye on her and take play a little slow for these first few weeks. I have seen her walk like she was favoring a back leg a few times, but it is only for a few steps then she seems to walk normally, so I think it is just her walking on an uneven surface, or her habits for jumping up into the grass, etc. and not a serious injury. I also forgot to mention that she is a bit overweight and I am not sure how much exercise she got a day with her previous owners, so I want to increase her activity but ease into it.

3. I'll try to stick to my nylabones and such. She hasn't shown much interest in harder rubber toys like kongs so far. Tennis balls (and other similar balls) are definitely her favorite toys and she will go and get one and try to bring it into her crate. I am not sure the durability of some of her older tennis balls and a few I got from petsmart (likely not very durable), but I ordered a bunch of special non-toxic, extra durable, pressure-less tennis balls for dogs that she loves. These balls can't pop, but it probably still is a safer choice to not have them in her crate.

4. I am increasingly thinking this may have been more of an anxiety-adjustment related thing that is getting better. She is getting more consistent about when she goes and has been going a little more often. I actually started a log yesterday, so I will keep an eye on it. Even her normal urinating 2-3 times a day sounds a little low to me, but I guess not crazy unusual. I haven't seen any evidence of her going in the house and she has plenty of opportunities to go and water to stay hydrated. I will definitely try the tips for getting her to go potty on command! Getting her to go on cue would be great, but at least if I can get her to go consistently in the morning (this has actually been when she is most consistently going in the past few days), then I can go to work feeling more comfortable about her not being able to go out for a while.

Also just a note, I wanted to take her in for a wellness visit at the vet just to double check some of these concerns and establish a relationship with the vet, but most in my area aren't taking wellness appointments now due to COVID-19. They are still taking sick visits, but I don't think any of these concerns are serious enough for that (anyone please let me know if you think otherwise). Thanks again for the help!
 

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Nice! Sounds like you're the right track all around. If you're on facebook, there is a "canine conditioning and body awareness" group that has a lot of knowledgeable people and might be up your alley when it comes to learning more about dog physio stuff. Could possibly be a good resource for low-impact exercises for weight loss (swimming is always a good choice, as I'm sure you know! It's just not available to everyone).

We feed our boys their breakfasts in frozen Kongs right now. Gets them to really work the toy for a long period, and results in tired, chill dogs for us as we try to work (or study, in my case) at home. Especially the teenager, who can be a bit obnoxious. We happen to feed a raw grind, but kibble soaked in water or mixed with a little canned pumpkin, plain yogurt, etc. also freezes well and encourages lots of chewing and licking. You might not be able to fit her entire meal in a single Kong (I have small boys, haha), but even just using part of a meal in there can get you a lot of the benefits of a good chewing session.

Glad you have dog-safe balls! I definitely didn't know the risks of athletic tennis balls before I got into dogs, so I wanted to be sure that was on your radar. My understanding is that some of the dog-safe ones can still 'pop', but they won't do it explosively like the pressurized tennis balls, so the only danger there is if your pup will be tempted to then chew and swallow the busted ball. Still not ideal for unsupervised time, as you said, but fine for her to have around the house!

As for the peeing, glad she's settling in and having a more 'normal' pattern. My eldest boy will definitely sometimes only pee 2-3 times a day, especially if the weather is gross (he can be a tad dramatic), but will go more if we're active or he's spending time in the yard in the nice weather. But that's not necessarily a fair comparison, because both my boys are big markers outdoors, and females tend to be less so, haha.

Sounds like you don't have to worry about it yet, but vets will often still talk to you on the phone right now and be able to advise whether something is 'enough' of an emergency or concern to bring the dog in, even if they're not doing routine visits. Some have even set up ways to do remote consults for issues that might not need a physical examination. Either way, don't hesitate to reach out if you have concerns or questions, because a good vet will want to make sure things get taken care of rather than put off until they become bigger problems.
 
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