22 May 2020

Bringing Home A Rescue Dog

Congratulations on choosing to adopt a rescue dog! Rescues and shelters house wonderful dogs with endless potential to become a cherished member of your family. Here are some tips to ensure a smooth transition for your new friend.

Have a set of house rules. Dogs need order and leadership. They are pack animals, so you must be the ‘pack leader’. Your dog needs to know that you are the boss and that you have rules established. This gives him a feeling of safety and security that will be critical for his long term happiness.

Hold a family meeting to create rules about caring for your dog. Will she be allowed on the couch, the bed, and in all rooms of the house? Where will she sleep and eat? Who will walk her and clean up after her? As a family, you must all be consistent with your decisions or you will confuse your dog, usually resulting in your dog making her own rules and causing unnecessary tension.

Have the necessary items your dog will need from the start. ID tags, a collar and 6-foot leash, food and water bowls, quality food, toys, a crate and bedding, and basic grooming tools.

Bring your new dog home when you can be there for a few days so you can get to know each other and establish trust and rules.

Just before you bring your dog into the home, take him for a walk to tire him out a little. Walks are not only good exercise, but they also serve as a training tool and an opportunity to establish you as a trustworthy pack leader.

At first, limit your dog to one room or area. Allow her time to familiarize herself with the smells and sounds of her new home. Try to limit your time away from home during those first days; your spending time with her will help her to become more comfortable in her new, unfamiliar home.

Your rescue dog should NOT be left alone in the house with your existing pets until you have carefully monitored and controlled their interactions for a period of time.

Expect housetraining accidents. Your dog is in a new territory and is establishing a new routine, so accidents probably will happen. Review any housetraining information available from the rescue, your veterinarian, or your local Bark Busters trainers. The key is to be consistent and maintain a routine, including restrictions on where your dog can roam, unsupervised, in the house.

Dogs instinctively like to den, and a crate makes the ideal place for your dog to sleep and get away from the household activity. A crate also makes housetraining and training in general easier, but limit the amount of time your dog is crated. The crate should be roomy enough to allow your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. An alternative to a crate is to confine him in a dog-proofed part of your home, such as a laundry or mud room. You can use a baby gate to block off the area from the rest of the house.

Ensure your dog is examined by a vet within a week after adoption. Most rescue dogs have been given basic vaccinations and many have already been spayed/neutered, but a thorough health check is important to ensure his overall wellness.

For the first few days, limit guest visits to allow your dog to get comfortable with her new family. When you do have guests, engage their help in training your dog by asking them not to pay attention to her when they first arrive. This allows your dog to feel comfortable that there is no pressure to meet people and to ensure any over-exuberance is not reinforced and encouraged. A sign posted on the front door asking entrants to ‘ignore the dog’ is an easy way to indicate to your guests that you have a new dog in training.

Get guidance for training your dog. A well-trained dog is a happier dogs and a joy to have around.

Dogs need a pack leader. If they don’t find one, then they try to become the leader which can create numerous behavioural problems. Practice obedience training, set rules and apply them calmly and consistently, and praise your dog’s good behaviour. He will see you as worthy to be a pack leader and will trust and bond more quickly to you.

It is amazing how quickly dogs learn what is and isn’t acceptable when they understand and respect us. Dogs have a language of their own and once we learn it, we can communicate better what we expect of them.

Hats off to you for bringing home a rescue dog! Your patience and training will help to create a bond that will reward you both for years to come. With the right balance of discipline, understanding and affection, your rescue dog will become a loyal, grateful and loving companion.

Need some advice on how to train your new rescue dog? We can help. Contact your local Bark Buster office at 1-866-418-4584 or use the form below to find the Bark Busters dog trainer near you.

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