10 Simple Steps For Welcoming Home Your New Rescue
Did your home grow by 4 feet during the national "Clear The Shelters" Day?
With over 77,000 pets finding their forever homes from 1,200 participating shelters this weekend, there are plenty of people across the country that are now looking at their newest furry family member thinking - "Now What?"
How Do I Help My New Rescue Dog Know They're Safe?
Going from whatever their past history may be, then to a loud crowded shelter and now to your home- your pup is going to need some time to transition and trust in their new forever home.
Simple Step #1-
Plan on keeping yourself and your new dog confined to a small section of your home at first, ideally just a room or two. This lets them take time to acclimate without feeling like they're lost in a brand new maze. Keeping them confined to a smaller area of your home will also help you to keep a closer eye on them and enforce proper potty training protocol from the start.
Simple Step #2-
Do your best to keep loud noises to a minimum. It goes without saying that your new rescue will by hyper alert until they reach a certain level of comfort in your home. Talk with your older children about using their quiet voices, avoid watching action movies with loud explosions and car chases at full volume, and remember that a dog's hearing is four times stronger than the average human's.
How Soon Should I Work On Training With My New Rescue Dog?
Simple Step #3-
First you need to assess your starting point. This is a great opportunity for you and your pup to get to know each other- be it on day one or day five. Be sure to have lots of treats on hand and let's see what your pup knows. It's important to remember, no matter what their ability level may be - this is meant to be a positive bonding experience. Start with the basic commands like "Sit", "Stay", and "Leave it" - your new best friend may just surprise you!
Simple Step #4-
Figure out their potential triggers. All shelter dogs have experienced a varying level of trauma and have had to learn different ways to survive. You may find your new pup is a resource guarder- but can you blame them if they've spent their life fighting for every meal? Or maybe your dog becomes distressed around other dogs- but again, you have no idea what they have been through to cause them to behave this way. All of these behaviors can be improved with consistent training, but you need to know what to look for first. Your best bet is to talk with the shelter staff to learn more about your new dog's history and behavior, but it is also important to expose them to common triggers in their new home and see how their new environment affects them.
Simple Step #5-
Sign up for a group training class* within 30 days of bringing your pup home to let them know this will be a part of their new normal.
Group training is the best opportunity to learn to work as a team.
It's a safe venue to work on socializing with other dogs and their owners while also tackling a guided curriculum.
*If your dog has experienced extreme trauma or shows aggression towards other dogs / new people, then a group training class is not the right first step for them.
Get in touch and lets start with one-on-one training from the comfort of your own home first.
What If My Rescue Dog Is Extremely Traumatized?
First things first- my hat off to you for being open to helping a dog that needs you the most. Extremely traumatized dogs are, without a doubt, a long term commitment but they are also, without a doubt, some of the sweetest, most loving dogs you will ever meet.
Not So Simple Step #6-
Know when to call in an expert. Yes- Dogs can absolutely suffer from PTSD in ways very similar to those experienced by humans.
Dogs with a history of being abused by past owners, of being attacked by other dogs, and other damaging experiences need the help of a professional who can create a customized plan for their treatment.
My Ph.D is in canine behavior with a special emphasis on trauma rehabilitation. I'm passionate about helping these dogs move past their history of trauma and blossom into the loving, well adjusted family pets we both know they can be.
Slightly More Simple Step #7-
Recognize that traumatized dogs will take more time to adjust to their new home and make this commitment prepared to make the investment in gaining their trust. Think lots and lots of treats, extra quiet time to adjust to their new setting, and slow gentle pets with no sudden movements.
How Do I Introduce My New Rescue Dog To My Other Dog(s)?
Simple Step #8-
I always recommend having your current dog(s) meet their new brother or sister in a neutral location before bringing them home. Think of a place with few distractions, something like a small, private park. This gives them an opportunity to meet without feeling protective of "their space" and get to know each other while also exploring this fun new adventure together.
How Do I introduce My New Rescue Dog To New People?
Simple Step #9-
Just like humans, every dog has had a different life experience. There's no one tried and true way to make a traumatized dog become a social butterfly- but there are a few ways to help them understand that humans can be kind.
- Treats- and lots of them! Have a big jar of treats placed by the door and let each person try to give one to your new dog. They may not want to take them at first and that's ok. Have them leave it on the floor and walk away. In their own time, Fido will come to realize that these new strangers come bearing delicious gifts with no return expectations.
- Give them their space. Once your guests have entered and left their tribute ask them to kindly ignore Fido completely until he is the one who initiates contact.
- Treats again! Did your pooch follow your guests to the door as they leave? Have them try again with their offering. Maybe he takes it, maybe he doesn't- but it once again reenforces that these kind people came, gave treats, gave treats some more and left without incident.
Simple Step #10-
Limit your younger guests for the time being. Yes, I understand that may be easier said than done, but California is a highly litigious state and the last thing you want is for your new rescue to become your new liability. Loud, unpredictable, fast moving little humans who can't help but focus their love on this furry new play friend can be too much for a rescue dog who doesn't necessarily have a soft spot for this type of affection. Start with one older child who can exhibit self control and ask them to be your helper. Again- Treats, Treats, Treats!
Remember- Bringing a rescue dog into your family requires an adjustment period for all involved.
Don't get discouraged- you will all find your new sense of normal soon enough.
And be sure to get signed up for a group or in home training program as quickly as possible to have access to a professional dog behaviorist- someone who can help to bridge the gap between you and your new rescue dog.
Dr. Auntie Sue