So you’ve adopted (or will adopt) a rescue dog . . .
First things first, what do you need to consider?
Who the members of your household are (2-legged, 4-legged and other)
Regular visitors at your home
What you know about the dog’s history
What this specific dog’s needs will be
Other things you will need to think about
Second, what do you need to do when you bring a dog home?
Puppy proof for:
Toxins: To get information about poisonous substances and plants, visit the Poison Control website.
Stairs – especially for small or long-bodied dogs
Edibles/inedibles – chocolate, onions, Thanksgiving turkey, plants, dog
And consider taking classes for basic animal first aid through the Red Cross
Decide how to handle your dog’s time alone.
Confinement – full run, room confinement, crate, daycare
Check your yard for safety.
Secure – after careful inspection
No, partial, or insecure fence
Toxic and troublesome plants – Night shade, onions, nettles, and others
Understand how much activity your dog will need and what types best suit all members of the family.Exercise: walk, run, fetch, ______________________________________________
Socialization: Dog park, daycare, play dates, _______________________________
Stimulation: Games, training, competition, ________________________________
Put together an animal first aid kit for emergencies.
Make a list, that all family member are familiar with, of your “deal breakers” and know how to/when to discourage those behaviors.
Third, know what to expect (within reason).
· Accidents happen. Even well-trained dogs will slip in a new environment.
· Adapting takes time and patience. Don’t become discouraged if your new
· family member doesn’t demonstrate immediate love. Remember that everything that was familiar has suddenly disappeared.
· The dog may not know what we expect. Give him/her time to learn
· commands, and don’t expect him/her to know everything—like how to use the
· stairs, go to the door, or walk on slippery floors.
· The dog may be shy, avoidant, cranky – Sometimes a quiet room can give a scared dog a safe place to withdraw for short periods of time, and the dog can acclimate to your household in increments rather than all at once.
· The dog may howl and cry when you aren’t near it. Don’t reinforce the behavior by constantly checking on the dog. Rather, work on strategies to help your dog build confidence, and develop a plan so s/he doesn’t keep you and other members of your family from sleeping.
· If the dog came from a particularly difficult background—a home with abuse or a puppy mill—it may demonstrate unpredictable behaviors, such as lashing out unexpectedly, baring its teeth, staring into space, or cowering. In most cases, you can work through these behaviors, ideally with a dog behaviorist.
Fourth, be prepared for common “problems” you might encounter, and familiarize yourself with strategies to deal with them.
· Slow adaptation to family members
· Pulling on the leash
· Separation anxiety
· Submissive wetting
· Eating feces - pick up immediately, supplements, change diet, redirect, dog may be “helping,” de-escalate
· Giving up, getting frustrated
Fifth, make the most of your relationship:
· Set boundaries.
· Make your expectations clear and realistic.
· Stay in touch with the adopting organization.
· Create opportunities for success.
· Build trust, and don’t take it personally if the dog seems confused or doesn’t bond with your right away.
· Take classes through Giffy dog and/or regularly schedule time with your dog. (Can't make it to the store? Talk to me, I can set something up via skype!)
· Put yourself in the dog’s paws.
Sixth, be ready to be surprised, amazed, delighted, and impressed!
And don’t forget, as Pumbaa, from The Lion King says, “You got to put your behind in your past.” Don't focus on your new friend's hard life. Think about the possibilities in the future!