When bringing home a rescue dog, what you do in the first few days are crucial to helping your new family member adjust to their new surroundings.
While it’s exciting to bring home a new pet and give a shelter animal a new life, remember that your dog is suddenly in a strange place and will likely need time before they feel secure and safe.
Bringing home a rescue dog can be overwhelming at first, especially if you’ve never rescued a pet before. You might be wondering how long it takes a rescue dog to adjust to a new home or how you can help your rescue dog feel comfortable in their new surroundings.
Follow these four tips for bringing home a rescue dog to help your new pet get adjusted.
The first tip for bringing home a rescue dog is to prepare in advance for their arrival. Purchase all the supplies you’ll need including a crate, treats, beds, food, leashes and collars, toys, and grooming supplies.
Set up the dog’s crate with plenty of comfortable blankets. Determine his designated sleeping and eating areas beforehand.
Remove all potential dangers to your dog including chemicals, children’s toys, electronics, dangerous plants or foods, and other items he could chew up or choke on.
Finally, inform all family members of the rules for the new dog and teach them to interact with the dog safely. (This is especially important for homes with children.) Decide which rooms your dog is allowed in and which furniture he’s allowed to use.
2. Be patient
If you’re wondering how long it takes a rescue dog to adjust to a new home, know that it won’t happen overnight. Getting a rescued dog comfortable in a new environment takes time and patience, especially if the dog was previously abused or neglected.
Keep things calm at first. As tempting as it might be, don’t introduce your new dog to a bunch of friends and family immediately. Allow your dog to bond with you and get used to your family and other pets first.
You should expect that your rescued pet may act differently at home than they did at the shelter. Your dog may be nervous, timid, and they may even refuse to eat at first. These are usually temporary behaviors that should subside with time.
Observe your new dog carefully for signs of stress or discomfort. If you notice them becoming anxious, be patient and comforting. Speak to the dog in a slow, calm voice while stroking them gently until they calm down. A bit of whimpering, especially at night, is common at first.
3. Make them comfortable
When bringing home a rescue dog, you should do your best to make sure he’s comfortable while he adjusts to his new home so you can build his trust. Reward your dog’s good behavior with treats and praise.
If you can, take a few days off to help your pet adjust. When you do need to leave, start by leaving for short periods only. Put soft things in the crate for your dog to cuddle with while you’re gone. Don’t make a big deal about leaving and coming home. Slowly increase the time you’re gone as your pet gains trust that you will come back.
A great tip for helping your new dog adjust is to play music or leave the television on to keep your pet company when you’re gone.
Let your dog get situated for a few days and then begin to establish a routine for him. A routine will make your new dog more comfortable and let them know when to expect bathroom breaks, meals, and sleeping time.
4. Prevent bad behavior (and expect mistakes)
Do your best to prevent bad behavior from occurring, but know there will probably be accidents and other mistakes. Put away any rugs or other furniture you don’t want ruined while your pet is being house trained and adjusting to their surroundings.
Use dog gates, crates, and leashes to teach your dog how to behave. For example, you can use a lead halter to teach your dog to walk with a leash.
Don’t leave your new dog unsupervised, especially where there are things available for him to destroy or get into.
Some bad behavior in shelter pets is normal, especially at first. Examples of these behaviors include accidents, chewing, barking, leash pulling, jumping up and sometimes aggression. If you need help handling your dog’s behavior, especially aggression, consult a dog trainer.
When it comes to bringing home a rescue dog, you can never be too prepared. Arrange your home ahead of time with plenty of comfortable areas for your dog to relax. Be patient, and know that some mistakes are bound to happen. But most importantly, be excited that you are adding a new beloved member to your family and giving them a new chance at life.