So you finally found the furry, doe eyed key to your heart. And hey—you’re already this dog’s hero. What’s next?
Rescuing a dog from a shelter can be one of the most life-changing experiences there is, but it may also demand a higher level of commitment and patience. Here are a handful of tips on how to bond with a rescue dog.
Be sure to have all the appropriate items for your new pal’s transition. From a big fat bag of dog food designed just for the build of your buddy, to potentially less obvious things like dog shampoo. You’ll want to have your ducks in a row beforehand to make things easier on both you and your dog.
Other basic things to have ready for the big day include doggie bowls, a bed, treats, poop bags, and an ID tag.
If you have a family, set ground rules in advance and be sure to doggie proof the house. It’s hard to predict how a dog in a new environment will react, and sometimes destroying expensive sneakers might start to seem like a good way to blow off a little steam.
On top of all this, you’ll want to be mentally prepared as well: Expect accidents in the first week or so while your dog acclimates to the new environment.
Even a formerly potty-trained dog can get confused by his new surroundings and leave you a nice little present in the hallway.
Bringing your dog home
A lot of shelters will provide a leash and collar when you come for pick up, but bring your own just to be safe.
Your new buddy will have a lot to get used to, coming from where he or she did. One of the biggest things that makes the first day more comfortable for a rescue dog is simply spending time with them in the same room. Ideally, offer a confined space so you can show your dog out when they need to use the bathroom or correct behavior as needed.
The Partnership for Animal Welfare advises that just being together will put your pet more at ease and eventually form the foundation for your relationship together, which is naturally based on trust.
Know what to expect
Behaviors associated with anxiety as a result of the change of environment or baggage from a former and less nurturing home may emerge.
Take things in stride, let your dog know they’ve done wrong by firmly saying “NO” and make sure to reward them for good behavior.
Puppy or adult, well behaved or not; it’s never a bad idea to enroll in a training class. For moreinformation on how to help a timid dog; check out acclaimed author and dog trainer Nicole Wilde’s helpful tips here.
Consistency is key
Texas Animal Guardians write, “Adjusting to a new environment also hinges on a routine.” Ensure all the bases are covered from who walks the dog on what days to what time the dog is fed. Maintaining order in your dog’s life will translate to order in your life, especially in the first week or so of being together—often the most trying.
According to Petfinder, “schedule will show your dog what is expected of him as well as what he can expect from you”. Kapeesh!
PetFinder notes that it can sometimes take several weeks to truly get a sense of your dog’s personality.
With a little perseverance and a handful of treats, it’ll be like you two have known each other your whole life before you know it.