What to Expect – Bringing Your New Rescue Dog Home
You have given a rescue dog a new chance at life and you are finally preparing to bring him/her home, welcoming them into your family home. You have done an amazing thing and changed the life of that dog forever. Its hard to know what to expect as every dog is so different, but its important not to have high or unrealistic expectations of your new rescue dog, and that you are prepared for anything, especially during the first week of having him.
Dogs in a rescue shelter have come from all walks of life. Some may have been born as a stray, others abandoned on the streets, and some may have been surrendered to the shelter by a previous owner. Find out as much information as you can about your dog from the shelter staff, including where they came from when they ended up in the rescue. This information will help you get a rough idea about what to expect when you bring the dog home for the first time.
Stray dog – perhaps born in the campo or in a wasteland…
This dog will be completely new to a household environment. Prepare for the dog to be afraid of his new surroundings – new sounds, new smells, new objects. With a stray dog, its really important not to put him under any pressure. Expect the transition to be slow and challenging, that way you won’t be frustrated. This dog has never been loved by a person, never been inside a warm home with a stable supply of food or a comfy bed, so don’t expect the dog to understand everything on day one.
One common problem with dogs that were born strays is that they have trouble walking through doorways. If your dog won’t come into your home and would prefer to stay in the garden the first night, that’s fine. Leave a cosy bed with water and food and make sure your garden is secure. Do not drag the dog in through the door by his collar or on the end of a lead, as this can be very damaging for the dog and will make the act of walking through a door a very negative experience that he won’t want to repeat. Give him time to find out for himself how great it is to be inside in the safe and warm home, with you!
The dog will not understand what you expect him to do, or not to do, so don’t be shocked if he doesn’t use his new bed straight away or you find him on the kitchen worktops eating your dinner. All dogs need time to adjust to your lifestyle, routine and environment, so have patience and understanding with your new rescue dog.
Dog that has been in kennels a while…
This one is similar to rescuing a stray, in the way that the dog will not be used to home life at all. This dog has only known the 4 walls of his kennel and the odd walk by a volunteer, for however long he has been at the kennels. He is used to lots of dogs barking around him and feeding times being very excitable situations!
Dogs in the kennels are given things like plastic bottles as toys to help enrich their lives. Our german shepherd Troy is still to this day, very much obsessed with plastic water bottles and will wait very patiently for you to finish drinking from one before he takes it away and destroys it! Remove the lid first to prevent any choking hazards, and don’t be alarmed if your new dog picks up a leftover peanut butter jar or finished toilet roll, as just a few examples of improvised toys.
Previously abandoned dog…
An abandoned dog has been let down by people before, so you may find that he develops an over-attachment to you or any family member from the fear of being abandoned again.
The dog may not have been trained at all during his previous home, so be ready to train him all the cues you would like to communicate to him. Its possible that the dog had been used for a job in it’s previous home, like hunting. So the dog might spend the first day exploring the garden smelling every scent possible and will probably do the same in your home.
Its very common that a dog would have been bought into the shelter by their previous owner, because, for whatever reason, they are unable to keep the dog any longer. This is a sad circumstance for every party involved, and the dog would’ve been waiting for the owner to come back and get them for a while. To give this type of dog a new home is a wonderful thing, as they regain their trust in people, much like an abandoned dog. Although the dog would have been used to living in a home before, may still need to readjust. They might have been staying at the kennel for some time, where a toilet trained dog suddenly finds that he has to eliminate inside his kennel although he isn’t used to doing that (would normally ask to go outside), so time will be needed to readjust back to home life.
Every house has different rules, different furniture, different sounds and different smells. What his last owner may have thought was acceptable behaviour, you may not. Just like any new rescue, you need to show them the way and make the transition into your care as stress free and easy as possible for the dog.
Wherever your new rescue has come from, he/she will need time and patience. Every dog is different, so we can’t expect that a new dog will behave the same as any previous dog in the past. Rescuing a dog is one of the great gifts of life, but like all things, it doesn’t come without challenges.