What Are The Top Three Priorities for Your Rescue Dog?
Adopting a rescue dog is one of the most rewarding experiences in life. Not only do you get the satisfaction of knowing you have saved a life, you also win the loyalty of a grateful dog. With so many pups in shelters and foster care, adopting a dog is a way to make the world a better place.
This article will explore three main priorities for helping your new pack member experience a smooth transition to their new home: Safety, confidence and basic house manners.
If you are an experienced dog owner, then you have likely already dog-proofed your home. If you are new to having a dog in your abode, then follow these tips to make sure your new friend does not get into dangerous trouble:
- Stow away cleaning products and other chemicals – The household is full of potentially dangerous products that could be the cause of a deadly accident if your dog gets into them. Herbicides, pesticides, fertilizer, household cleaning agents, pool/spa treatments and even beauty products like lotions or soaps should be stored out of reach of your dog
- Learn what foods are toxic to dogs – Dogs have different food sensitivities than people. Do some research to learn what foods are strictly off limits and take special care to make sure they are kept safely away from your dog. Common culprits are grapes, raisins, chocolate, avocado, onion, garlic, chive, Xylitol (an artificial sweetener used in some people food), and raw yeast dough
- Eliminate physical hazards – If you are adopting a puppy or young dog still in the teething stages of development, then take a little extra time to look for potential physical hazards like electrical cords, children’s toys that could break apart and become choke hazards, or other tempting chewables
The shelter is a stressful place for any dog. Helping your dog to feel confident in their new home is a major priority for making a smooth transition. Here are some general tips for creating a supportive environment for the newest member of your pack:
- Look for opportunities to reward your dog. Don’t miss chances to reward volunteered behaviors that you like. Keep some high value food treats (cut into tiny pieces) in some baggies or airtight containers in several locations. If your dog is doing something you like (laying down, staying off the couch, sitting at the door before a walk, etc.) then be sure to let them know you appreciate that
- Actively teach desired behavior, redirect from undesirable behavior. Rather than being heavy on punishment which can teach your new pal that he is not safe in his new environment, make an effort to teach good behaviors and reward them. Expect some mistakes along the way, including a few accidents in the house as your dog adjusts. Stay calm and patient
- Set up a reliable routine. Most dogs are fairly adaptable to most schedules. Setting up a basic routine for things like meal times, walks, and training sessions is a great idea to immediately give your new dog a sense of security in their new environment
When dogs enter a new home, they are particularly tuned in to figuring out what is acceptable behavior. Dog trainers know that the first week of living in a new place is a great time to teach the house rules because of this optimal training window.
As already mentioned above, seek out positive ways to show your dog the right way to act, rather than getting too focused on what they are doing wrong. Here are some more specific tips for instilling great house manners right off the bat:
- Reinforce House Training – It is not uncommon for even well house trained dogs to have some accidents when they go to a new house, particularly after the stress of the shelter. Take your dog on some extra walks and give them rewards when they eliminate outside to reinforce the basics of house training
- Crate Train – Many professional dog trainers encourage people to crate train dogs, and this can be particularly important for a dog that is new to your household. Having a soft and warm place in a crate all their own is a great way to give a dog a sense of safety in a new environment as well as keep them out of trouble when they are left alone in the house. Crating can also prevent excessive barking when you are gone
- Decide What Works & Be Consistent. There are no rules set in stone for what constitutes basic house manners for your dog. You get to decide what works for you and your family. However, it is key that you and the rest of the people living in your household are clear on what counts as good behavior and are consistent with rewarding and/or scolding
It is a sad reality that many dogs end up bouncing back and forth to the shelter, not because they are bad dogs, but because they landed in homes where their people just were not prepared to help them be successful in their new environment. I hope this guide will help you successfully welcome your new family member to their forever home!
Mat Coulton has worked with dogs for just under a decade and is the founder of WileyPup.com, a doggy lover’s website that provides great tips and advice for pet parents everywhere. Love your pup but not so much their breath? Check out this article on Fighting Doggy Breath & Toothpaste for Dogs.
Here is a pic of Mat below from WileyPup.com with his cute doggie. Mat is being featured on our amazing dog blog with a few guest posts coming in the next couple of weeks.