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Important Things to Keep in Mind When Re-Homing a Rescue Dog
Dogs, like people, need time to adapt to a new environment and a new routine. I work from home and am lucky enough to control my own day and schedule and be free to come and go as I please.
Having been in the rescue center for any length of time, a dog loses its usual routine. Just like people, dogs have a routine of when they get up, when they go to the bathroom, when they eat, etc. For a rescue pet this will change when they join the dog shelter and then when you bring them home.
Dogs are often caged for long periods of time. In Holly’s case, it appears she was caged from 3:00/4:00pm when the center closed until 9:00am the following morning. A lot of time to be confined for an active dog with no chance for evening walks and nibbles.
Holly forgot herself last night and in the middle of curling up with us in front of the TV, she peed on the living room rug. Try not to scold or yell when that occasional lapse in home training happens. It’s a momentary lapse and will probably only happen once (hopefully!).
Feeding patterns will come once the dog settles into the household routine. Holly, like our last dog, Tippy, prefers to eat when the family eats. We make sure he has his bowl of dog biscuits before we give him table scraps. Don’t expect dogs to eat regularly for the first week, until their routine becomes more familiar. It’s also important that you stick to the food they were used to at the kennel before switching to another brand.
Experts recommend that you keep your dog on rescue pet food until the first bag is almost gone (Blue Cross gives you a bag of the recommended dog food when you adopt them). Then, if you are changing his food, gradually add the new food starting with 1/3 of the new food with 2/3 of the old, over a few days. Then switch to 50:50 for a few days. Then 1/3 old food and 2/3 new food. After a week or so, you should be able to feed your dog only the new food.
Make sure you are not likely to experience any major disorders within the first 3 months of adopting a new dog. Moving house, going on holiday, putting the dog in the kennels, etc. it will disturb it and should be avoided.
Try to keep your routine as normal as possible. In particular, keep your walks at similar times so that your dog quickly gets used to when he will be going out, which will help him regulate his bowel movements and make life easier and more predictable for everyone.
If your dog needs training, there are several things to consider. For basic obedience training, it’s best to wait until the dog has settled in and you’ve built trust between you and family members. For behavioral problems such as aggression or separation anxiety, it may be better to treat them sooner rather than later. Consult your local dog training school or a dog behaviorist for advice.
We were advised not to let Holly take the lead for the first 2-3 months until we had built up absolute trust and authority for her to come to us when we called. A newly rescued dog may charge out and not return when called. When you’re in unfamiliar territory, you can easily get lost or run the risk of veering off the road.
Of course, this is all practical advice. The most important thing of all is to show love and patience to your dog and enjoy the process of getting to know each other. The human-dog bond is one of the most rewarding and wonderful relationships you will ever have, and once you bond, you will have the most loyal and faithful companion you can imagine.
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