How to Make Your Rescue Dog Comfortable in Your Home
You’ve done your research and found the perfect dog for your home. He or she is a shy but sweet small or large fur. You have brought your dog home. The first thing to do is let your dog sniff and get used to you, your family, and your home. Now comes the fun part. How do you acclimate your rescue dog to your home and family? Hopefully, you found out something about your dog’s situation before choosing the girl or boy. A good rescue society should inform you if your dog was abandoned, abused, or both. They may not tell you exactly what the situation was that your dog faced or for how long, but they should tell you how traumatized the dog was.
Depending on what your dog faced before being rescued, you will have to handle it with care. In order for your new friend to get used to your home and family, you will need to have a lot of patience and a lot of love. Once the people from the rescue society who brought your dog to you have handed you the leash and left, it’s time for reality.
The first thing to do is familiarize your dog with his new environment. First, take your new pet outside so he can relieve himself. Then go back and take the dog to the parts of your house or apartment where you are going to let him roam and sniff to familiarize himself with his surroundings. The next thing to do is let the dog get used to each member of the family. Let the dog spend some time with each person. If you have little ones, teach them not to jump or make quick movements with the dog. That could scare the dog and he or she will instinctively jump on the person or walk away and perhaps relieve himself on the ground. Teach them to stand very still and extend their hands, palm up, toward the dog and allow the dog to come and sniff. Then they can slowly reach out to pet the dog or give it a treat. Check with the rescue society to see if the dog likes a particular treat to make sure it is on hand when it is brought home.
Now the next thing to do is just relax and get to know your dog. If you haven’t yet purchased a bowl set, dog food, or crate that your dog can call home, now is the time to do so. Take your dog for a walk to the nearest pet store. All major pet store chains allow you to keep your pet on a leash. This is a good first outing for you to try with your new pet. This is a good idea for several reasons. First, you will find out how your pet behaves in the car. Some dogs love to drive. Others are not so good. They shake, moan, shake, bark, and are generally very uncomfortable. A short trip to the pet store is a good way to verify this before committing to a long trip with your dog.
Now once you’re in the store with a good secure leash on your dog, wander around, let your dog sniff it all around, and ask one of the associates what they would recommend for supplies. We were told to use ceramic or metal bowls for food and water because they would be less likely to become contaminated than plastic. Then they told us to get a crate because our dog had been trained. Make sure the crate gives your dog enough room to roll over and lie down comfortably. Who needs to be tight? Cages are used to give your dog a place that he can call his own, where he feels safe and secure. Of course, our dog has chosen a section of our section that we have put for her. Make sure to get a pad or pillow for the bottom of the crate so your dog has a nice, soft place to lie down. The only other things you should get right now are any type of dog food that your rescue society recommends and some treats for training purposes. A chew toy or two is also a good idea at this time. Another necessity is dog potty pads. They are sold in almost any pet store and until you and your dog are used to each other’s routines, they can save floors and carpets from having to be shampooed regularly.
Good, now you have completed your first adventure with your dog and you are back home. You have spent some time getting to know yourself. Now, while a family member is busy thinking about how to put the crate together, one of the others should give the dog some food and water. Keeping your dog hydrated is very important. Make sure the water dish is at least half full and contains fresh water. I got used to changing the water in our dog’s water dish at least twice a day. You don’t like stale water either, do you?
If the first type of dog food you give your dog doesn’t seem to work, as in, your dog refuses to eat it, don’t worry. Sometimes you will have to try several different types before coming up with the one your dog likes. It took us about five tries to get it right. This is why you should buy small amounts at first until you find the brand your dog will eat. The only thing you need to make sure to do is avoid anything that contains lamb meal. Lamb is difficult for a dog to digest.
The first day your dog is home with you, it’s a good idea to keep the doors closed to any rooms that you don’t want your dog to explore. Until you can determine the level of burglary your dog has experienced, it is best to confine him to a certain area of the house, preferably without carpet. Put those toilet pads near the doors. If your dog has had any level of housebreaking, he will probably do his job at the potty if you haven’t taken him out for a walk in a while. It’s a good idea to take your dog out every two hours at first for two reasons. The first is to get used to walking with you on a leash. The second is so that the dog can relieve himself outside and not on his favorite rug. You will know how often the dog really needs to go outside after a short period of time, probably a couple of days.
The first night your dog is home with you can be difficult. I recommend that you try to bring your dog on the weekend so you don’t have to get up to go to work or school the day after having your dog. It can be difficult to get this beautiful skin pack to sleep the first night. You may want company because you are in a strange place. You can put a treat in your dog’s crate and tell him very firmly but gently to go into the crate and stay. Let the whining begin! If you are very lucky, your dog will enter his crate and go to sleep. Otherwise, your dog will start whining or barking as soon as everyone has gone to bed. Go back to the crate and pet the dog for a minute to assure him that everything is okay, then say stay and go back to bed. The next time he groans, ignore him for a while and see if he calms down. Usually they will. If not, repeat the routine of going to reassure him a few more times and then eventually he will settle down. The first night our dog was with us, my son and I took turns keeping him company. However, after the first night, he was fine, calmed down and went to sleep without any problems. I guess it was just that first night in a new home with a new box. Our dog hasn’t slept in a cage in a long time. She practically runs the house as she has proven that she can be trusted. He sleeps on his own dog bed, which is on the floor of my daughter’s bedroom. This is perfectly acceptable to us, but everyone should do what is most comfortable for themselves and their dog.
The first few days with a rescue dog are challenging as they are with any new puppy you bring home. The dog has to get used to a new routine and new people and is probably still suffering the ill effects of the situation from which it had to be rescued. Your dog may be scared, he may relieve himself every time you or another member of your family approaches him, assuming a submissive posture, with his butt down on the floor, looking at you with a pitying look and before you can say it . that everything is fine, well, there is a puddle on the ground. If your dog begins to adopt the submissive posture, grab him and place him outside or on the potty to relieve himself. Either that or tell that cute dog to come to you. Sometimes that’s all you need to do to prevent the floor from getting wet.
Your dog may have learned behaviors that are not acceptable to you and your family. When your dog does something that is unacceptable, move him from the place where he is doing the behavior and put him in a different place. Then tell or show the dog what you want it to do. When they answer correctly, offer positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement of good behaviors by handing out treats and saying “good dog” when the dog is doing something you want him to do will prevent him from turning to bad behaviors after a while. Remember, your dog wants to please you. You just need to learn what you like and what you dislike. You also need help breaking down negative behaviors that you might have learned as a survival method.
Rescue dogs are wonderful. They are so happy to get a second chance at a good home that they will work very hard to please you. They require a lot of patience and love. If you are patient and care about them, they will give you back ten times more. After a year and a half with our little rescue, I hardly have to explain that she is a rescue and does not play well with others. She has developed a sense of herself through love and care and is now starting to act like, well, like a confident little dog who is well loved and cared for. We wouldn’t trade it for anything and we are so glad it came into our lives. Have fun, be patient and give lots of love! You will be rewarded enormously.