Adopting a Rescue Dog
Rescue shelters everywhere are overloaded with amazing rescued dogs just waiting to be adopted. Dogs can be in shelters for a whole host of
reasons, some having been rescued from tragic and appalling situations through no fault of their own. Whilst shelters do their best to accommodate and provide rescue dogs with what they need, the environment can be stressful and challenging for them. Once adopted, a rescue dog will need time, effort and patience to adapt to you and the new surroundings and it can be some time before they can feel secure in a new family.
This article hopes to provide a few tips on how to help your new rescue dog make the transition from the shelter to their new home with you.
The first thing to acknowledge is that you cannot compensate for the past no matter how terrible it was for the dog, so you must aim to make the future as good as you possibly can and do all you can to ensure that the dog has a happy and secure home with you for the rest of his life.
Before you bring your new rescue dog home
Your garden should be totally secure and escape proof, so address any gaps in fencing, under gates and broken boundaries. Ensure dogs cannot leap over walls using garden items as a launch pad (such as a table or chair leaning against a fence).
Your rescue dog should be wearing a collar and name tag/disc on their collar with your name, full address and telephone number on, ideally two telephone numbers.
All dogs should be micro chipped by law.
All dogs should be up to date with vaccinations along with any worming and flea treatment. Arrange to take your new dog to your vet for registration and a complete health check within the first week of his arrival.
Obtain as much information from the rescue organisation about the background of your new dog along with any medical history.
All dogs should be spayed and neutered once they are old enough to prevent unwanted puppies so check this has been carried out.
Ensure you have all the appropriate accessories a good dog lead (visit our products page), a harness, bed, food bowls, food and toys. Place his bed in a quiet corner or area and next to a wall. Do not move the bed around unnecessarily. The bed should have something with the dogs scent on ideally and something with your scent on (a worn t-shirt or similar. The bed should be respected as his own private area and he shouldn’t be disturbed whilst in his bed.
Create house rules
Start as you mean to carry on. If you do not want your dog on your couch or bed, make sure he knows as soon as he tries to sit in any place you do not want him to sit in. If you do not want him in certain rooms in the house make sure he knows on day 1. It is very confusing for a dog if you suddenly change your mind about what he is or isn’t allowed to do or where he is and isn’t allowed to go in the house.
The initial days
Make sure you have the time and energy to devote for the first few days at home with your new rescue dog. It is good to establish a routine as routine promotes a feeling of security for any dog. Aim to feed your dog the same food as he has been used to receiving at the shelter at least initially. Let him explore his new home and show him around his new garden and his sleeping area and bed.
You must always keep your dog on a lead whilst outdoor walking for at least the first 3 months until you are absolutely certain you can recall your dog.
Introduce family members and visitors slowly at first and ask them not to approach the dog, allow your dog to decide when to approach them so he does this at his own pace.
Never punish your dog, there is never any justification in physically punishing your dog. He will never relate the punishment to the crime, he will simply think you are being aggressive. It is perfectly acceptable to tell a dog off for committing a crime if you catch him in the act, and you tell him of whilst doing it and you praise him effusively when he stops. If you find he has committed a misdemeanour but you have not caught him in the act, there is no point in telling him off. Don’t be fooled by a look of guilt, a dogs brain is not capable of feeling guilt, this look is more likely a display of fear. He will show this look even if it wasn’t him who committed the crime.
Introducing your rescue dog to any existing dogs in the household must be approached with care. Ideally the dogs will have already met on neutral territory and ideally to have gone for a walk together to get to know each other. It is advisable not to walk straight into your home with a new dog and expect your resident dog to accept the new addition immediately.
Never leave your new dog alone with other dogs or other pets in the household until you have allowed plenty of time to observe their interaction with each other.
The rescue centre will have carried out various assessments on your dog’s behaviour. It is a good idea to ensure you fully understand their evaluation to gauge any training needs your dog may have.
Avoiding stress in your dog’s life can best be achieved by how you command him to do something you want him to do, or command him to stop doing something you don’t want him to do. The quick answer is don’t command him at all, dogs have a limited ability to understand words and they obey ‘commands’ more by your body language and your tone of voice, rather than by the word you use. Replace your commands by requests given in an excited tone of voice with exuberant hand signals, and a smile on your face. He will want to please you. Always assume that he if does not respond to your ‘command’ it’s because he didn’t understand what you wanted, not because he is disobedient.