Some rescue animals come from circumstances involving abuse or neglect. Initially, your dog may feel timid, fearful and distrusting, and may display these feelings through undesirable behavior. With patience, compassion, understanding and plenty of love, many attest that these dogs become some of the most devoted and well-behaved pets to own. When making the decision to adopt a rescue dog, there are a variety of ways to help him or her adapt to a new home.
If the information is available, perform as much research as possible to know more about the life the dog had prior to being rescued. Ask questions and determine if the dog was abused, fostered by any families, or has any particular health issues related to previous living conditions or any dietary needs. Determine if the animal was confined to an enclosure or given room to roam—this will help give you an idea of the amount of physical activity to which your dog is accustomed.
Bring the dog home on a day off from work or on a weekend when you, friends or family members have the time to become acquainted and offer reassurance. Meeting and greeting the people that will now play the role of loving family helps alleviate fear, establish familiarity and lay the foundation for a sense of security.
Rescue dogs, especially those from abusive environments, have a penchant for running away. Keep your doors closed at all times and, if your dog is going to be outside, make sure they are kept within a completely fenced and gated area. A Vancouver security systems expert from Astro Guard Alarms advises that new dog owners consider getting automatic locking or entry detection systems, as newly rescued dogs who get out are not familiar enough with their new area to find their way home. A new rescue pet can be lost forever or subjected to confusion and trauma, which will set socialization efforts back considerably.
Once home, take the dog on a look-see tour of the home and property, allowing him/her to look around while taking in the sights, smells and sounds of different areas. Introduce them to their sleeping and eating arrangements. While indoors, walk around with the dog on a leash if they seem especially fearful. Otherwise, allow them to follow you from one location to another. Talk calmly and offer reassurance when your dog seems hesitant to eat or cross a threshold.
Creating a regular routine for your pet helps to build security and minimize confusion. Hold feedings at the same time and in the same place every day. Take walks in the same places or at the same time of day. Encourage yard play time every afternoon or evening, along with quiet times before bed.
Continue talking to your dog, especially for the initial few days or the first week after arriving into the new environment. Pay attention to the cues provided—does your dog seem confused or stand-offish? Allow them to acclimate at their own pace while offering kindness and reassurance. Make the attempt to include the animal in daily activities or engage them in play. Resist forcing the issue—in time, once the rescue dog realizes it’s in a safe place, they will learn to trust and relax. Typically, after a few weeks, a transformation will occur and your dog will finally begin revealing their true personality and nature.