What to Expect from your Rescue Dog
A guide for new families
Your new dog may have been abandoned, found as a stray or abused. The dog had to adjust to a new life. Kind of scary if you think about it. Being gentle, considerate, kind and patient will help ease your new dog into his/her new life with you. Some rescue dogs may be very friendly at first while others may be reserved until they get to know you. Let the dog come to you, don't force him/her to do anything until you better understand his/her personality and behaviours. No dog is going to be "perfect" and due to their past history, rescued dogs require special consideration. We know moving is stressful and your new dog feels the same way.
This is not a good time to invite round friends or family – keep visitors to a minimum, and where possible spend the majority of your time in your home to allow the dog to adjust to their new surroundings.
CHILDREN - If you have children in the home, it is important you keep them away from the dog for periods of time and do not let children "hug" the dog. The dog deserves time, space and respect from all family members especially the youngest ones. Avoid the temptation to invite all the children's friends over to meet the dog as it may become
overstimulated and overwhelmed. A dog’s first form of communication is body language, but if you don’t read the signs it could lead to the dog growling or becoming defensive.
WHERE AM I? Your dog might be afraid and unsure of his new surroundings. If he appears to be scared, keep him in a small, quiet area to start. Don't allow children to bother the dog if he is afraid; fear can result in nipping. Instead, give your dog plenty of
time to adjust to his new surroundings, taking it one step at a time. For the first few weeks, remain calm and quiet around your dog, limiting too much excitement. Not only will this allow your dog to settle in easier, it will give you more one-on-one time to get to know his likes/dislikes.
Don't leave your other pets or small children unsupervised with the new dog.
If you plan on crate training your dog, leave the crate open so that he can go in whenever he feels like it in case he gets overwhelmed. It is often unrealistic to be with your dog at all times – but you should take steps to introduce them to being left alone in a measured way to avoid unnecessary stress for the dog. Start to leave the dog home alone for very short periods and gradually build up the time you are away.
Crate training also takes time and can be a useful safe place for a dog but it is a gradual process with the amount of time being slowly increased, but you should not leave your dog alone or in a crate for long periods. Please don’t take time off work and spend 24/7 with the dog for a week and then suddenly disappear back to your “normal” routine – small,
gradual, realistic steps are best.
OOPS! I'M SORRY Even a potty trained dog can make mistakes in a new home! Expect this to happen. He doesn't know which door to go to or how to ask his new family what he wants. Keep a very watchful eye on your new friend and confine him when you can't watch him.
The worst thing you can do is to physically reprimand a dog. This teaches the dog that he must go some place you can't see him to eliminate. A firm "no" when you catch him in the act and placing him outside or on papers will teach him where it is appropriate to go. The main thing is to reward good behaviour and use firm verbal cues for bad behavior.
TUMMY TROUBLES - When you change a dogs diet it can cause some gastric distress, don't worry if they have any diarrhoea for a day or so - it is normally stress related due the change. If you are worried or the dog seems unwell in any other way, please consult your vet, but it is quite a common occurrence given the upheaval in surroundings. Dog food is designed to provide a balanced diet, so refrain from feeding it the leftovers from your meals or giving too many rich treats – it may do more harm than good. Please carefully research food – well know and well marketed brands does not always equal good quality!
Start with bland foods, chicken and rice for example is excellent and gradually introduce different foods. If the dog is under weight feed small meals at regular intervals, rather than one or two large meals, allowing their systems to cope with the change. Don't feed pets in the same room together until they are showing no aggression or jealousy at mealtime. A dog that has been starved, or forced to give up food to other dogs in the past, may be very protective of the food you give it. Keep meal times quiet, calm and allow the dog to eat in peace.
WALKIES - We recommend until your dog gets to know you better they are walked in the garden on a lead, this is a vital time of bonding and getting to know their surroundings, if they feel insecure or scared you run the risk of them escaping. They can be, if a previous street stray very skilled at finding a way out. Also many rescue dogs are not used to a collar and lead and this is a great opportunity for them to get used to being walked in a secure quiet place.
We do not recommend you walk your dog for at least one week and suggest when you do start walking them, for the first week or two you go to the same place and follow the same route, as close to home as possible. During this time please continue to use both a collar and lead and harness and lead/slip lead. If your dog is spooked and somehow manages to escape, it gives them a better opportunity to find their way back through scent and previous knowledge. Don't forget the law requires your dog to wear a collar and tag at all times with your personal details on.
ADJUSTMENT PERIOD Allow several weeks to adapt to his new surroundings and up to four months to fully adjust (older dogs may take longer than young ones). Adopting a dog is a lifetime commitment. We assume that you will make a patient and concerted effort to achieve a successful placement. Sometimes rescued dogs may exhibit behavioral problems that could include house soiling, destructive behavior, mild aggression toward other pets or humans, submissive urination, clinging behavior, licking behavior, and hiding or cowering in bed. Most of the time, bad behavior is of very short duration as the dog becomes used to its new surroundings. Please give them time to aclimatize to your home, your expectations of them. They might never have been inside a house before, they dont understand our language and your existing beloved pets are strangers to them, all introductions should be made ideally in the garden, if you have more than one dog/cat to introduce them to, bring them out one at a time.
We hope this advice is helpful. For the majority of adopters after an initial few days of adjustment they find that they have adopted a truly wonderful dog that wants nothing more than the touch of your hand, the sound of your voice, and the love of your heart. You may find it hard to believe that someone in the past, treated your new friend with cruelty and malice.
It is difficult for us also but because of you that will never happen again