10 Ways to Welcome Your Rescue Dog or Cat
“Treat your new rescue dog like a 2-year-old child, and you’ll make friends fast”.. says Jean Smith, coordinator of Collie Rescue of the Carolinas. “It is important to establish right away that this is his or her new home and a foundation of on-going comfort, safety, love and that they will now be part of your ‘pack’ family, whether a pack of ‘2’ or more.
“Ask for and gather as much information as from the Foster person, Rescue or Shelter people that have handled and spent time with your new adoption. Ask about the behaviors and characteristics they noticed and the daily routines and schedules your dog lived by. Initially try to ‘mirror’ the routine as closely as possible ~ as you ‘slowly’ changing it to your lifestyle. It will take 3 – 6 months for your dog to fully adjust, let their true selves to rise and feel confident and secure that they are safe in a permanent new home. It will appear that they have adjusted quickly, and they will in many ways, but there are subtle emotions that still need time to own and ‘Be’. Fully adjusting takes time. Your dog has had a lot of traumatic moments on many levels, so be considerate and minimize massive changes in exercise, food, etc. Dogs live by ‘smell’ ~ and suddenly they have a lot to take in with you, your home, family and friends ~ new smells, sights, sounds and energy.
Who, What, Where, When & How will your new dog be looked after. Who will feed, walk and sleep with the dog every day and night? Are they allowed on the furniture ~ Yes or No ~ and stick to it. Allowing them to be on the furniture ‘sometimes’ will only confuse them and you should never punish them later when you allowed it earlier. Are there areas in the house and yard that are ‘off limits’? Make sure no duty goes neglected and that everyone enforces limits consistently.
A complete check up with your veterinarian is important. This is the beginning of a life long record keeping of their health, needs, musts and preventive care. And of course we are assuming you have or will have your pet Spayed or Neutered.
Start Your Life Together 24/7 ~ the 1st Few Days
If at all possible ~ bring your new dog home when you can commit to staying and being available for the first 72 hours; staying close by and observing, often at a distance, your dog’s actions, sniffing, sleeping, resting, exploring, etc.
For the first two days, let only immediate family have contact with them. If you have other pets in your household, introduce them outside the house, in the back yard where they have space to discover each other [on leashes] and always supervised by you. Keep their interaction at a minimum.
Create a Quiet, Easy, Safe & Secure New Environment
If you new adoption has been sleeping in a crate or small space you may want to continue making a crate available, which often gives them a sense of ‘safety’. Dogs are by nature a ‘den animal’, and small spaces that protect them on 3 sides creates a feeling of security.
Your new dog may have spent a lot of time in a confined space, forced to eliminate where they live and sleep. Dogs by nature do not want to eliminate where they eat and sleep, but they may not have had a choice in a Kennel, cage or Shelter. Taking them for short leashed walks, especially ½ hr. after feeding or drinking water will really help create a habit of doing to the bathroom outdoors away from home. Always leash them and take them outdoors from the same door. Quietly use a word like ‘Pee –Pee” or “Poo Poo” as they are doing their ‘business” so they learn to associate these words with going to the bathroom. Praise them after they have eliminated. Clean up any indoor ‘mistakes’ with Vinegar, which eliminates and neutralizes the odor.
Numerous Quiet Walks, Don’t Sit Around
Your dog needs to run and play, discover and feel safe on a leash, walking next to you. These times together will quickly bond the two of you and establish a healthy relationship with each new day of getting out and walking, moving, jogging together. The majority of breeds were bred to move and be active out doors [exceptions are small lap dog breeds], Establish a healthy lifestyle together.
Even if your dog already knows the basics establishing leadership between you two will be important, and local obedience classes are a great experience for both of you and establish your ‘Alpha’ leadership when you are both around other dogs, which can be quite a distraction. Very important: Do NOT enroll for at least 6-8 weeks.. Your dog has enough adjusting to do without being exposed to Obedience Classes too soon. Learning together establishes you as the leader.
Don’t let your dog run free unless it is in a safe enclosed yard.
Give your dog time to adjust to their new life. We already mentioned it at the top of this article, but it is worth repeating. It is the one most important gift you can give both of you. Just as we develop deep relationships and adjust to totally new surroundings that may occur in our lives, it is important to see your dog’s point of view here with adjusting to you, your lifestyle that they need to be part of now, all the new smells and sounds and surroundings and timing with and without you that they will come to know, respect, live by and with for the rest of their lives. Understanding ‘their’ needs more than yours will make for the relationship you want and can create between you all. Like a good glass of wine, it takes time to mature and be a wonderful life long experience together.