You bought a cute collar, flea comb, dog crate, customized ID tag, dog food, bowls, training treats, toys, blankets, towels, and a grooming kit. It seems like you’re now ready for a new pet you’ve adopted from the shelter. Or are you? More than the items a dog needs, note that a rescue needs special care and compassion. And that’s what matters more.
Every dog needs love. But rescue dogs need it more because they may have been deprived of it before, either intentionally or inevitably–maybe the dog was left with no one after the death of its owner. Now that you’re its new family, you’ve become that light of hope–someone who will cherish the pup’s precious life. So having said that, how can you make a rescue dog feel at home as soon as possible?
If you’ve never lived with pets before, start by pet-proofing your home. Pet-proofing includes keeping away poisonous plants, chemicals, toys, human foods, and other potential hazards out of their reach. Dangling cables, shoelaces, and slippers attract many dogs. Make sure you conceal all these. Cover trash bins and toilet bowls at all times to deter prying paws.
Beyond pet-proofing, creating a cozy and comfortable space exclusive for your new dog matters. Ideally, it should be the quietest area of your home as dogs get anxious with harsh noises. Prepare a dog crate with clean, soft blankets and bowls. Make it as comfy as possible. Once settled in, observe if your new dog prefers a different place around your home, so you can place the crate there instead.
Learn More About the Dog’s Past
It is difficult to address a rescue’s special needs without learning about his past. So, try to get more information about his case. Was he abused and abandoned by his former owner? If you adopted him from the shelter, some of his basic needs might have been addressed already, including the necessary vaccines. A stray living on the streets, on the other hand, is a more complex case. If you rescued one, the best thing to do is to bring him to a vet first to get a thorough health examination and determine his health needs.
You’re surely excited about being warm and affectionate to your adopted pet. Bringing your pet home after safe travel is the first step, but that’s just the start. But during the first few days, especially during the first meeting, avoid hugging or kissing the dog, or even patting his head. It is enough to be calm, caring, and friendly. Once you get to know the dog’s demeanor and he starts warming up to you, you can slowly show more physical affection.
To help your dog settle into your home, give him a thorough walkthrough of his new surroundings. However, it is recommended to make the tour a gradual process. For the first few days, allow the dog to roam around within just one or two rooms. Then, gradually, allow him to see the other areas around your home. Keeping your dog on a leash, let him familiarize himself with the new sights and scents. Limit the tour to just the space where he’s allowed to rest, roam around, play, and relieve himself.
Dogs are innately creatures of habit. So, establishing a routine as soon as you take a new dog home can help him adjust easier and faster. Without a routine, dogs can feel as if they’re left in the dark, wondering when their next meal will be. It can increase their stress and anxiety, which will be counterintuitive to your purpose for adopting a rescue.
Set specific times of the day for feeding, going for a walk or playing with them, and turning the lights out for bedtime. Additionally, potty train your dog in a specific area where you want him to relieve himself. Once he adjusts to the set-up, give him some back rub and a few tasty treats.
To prevent stomach upset, feed your dog the diet he used to eat for at least 14 days before switching to a new one. And if you do plan a diet switch, take it slow. Gradually mix the old food with the new diet.
A cheerful “Good boy!” or “That’s my baby!” always works when encouraging positive behaviors and teaching a few tricks. And of course, don’t forget those tasty treats they look forward to.
There’s a wide range of options available in the market, but as much as possible, try to opt for natural treats that are not only tasty but also good for your dog’s health. Besides relieving boredom and preventing destructive behavior, premium quality natural treats promote proper digestion, strengthen the immune system, and boost your fur baby’s energy.
Because rescue dogs usually deal with some sort of trauma, they might misbehave at times. When that happens, be firm to correct the behavior but in a kind, tactful way. If he chews on things around your home, just tell him to stop doing it. And if he follows the command, give a treat and praise.
Introduce Family Members Gradually
Don’t overwhelm your dog by introducing him to all the family members all at once including your other pets, especially if you have cats. It’s best to introduce your new dog to one family member at a time. Orient your little kids to be gentler with the new pet. It’s okay to feel excited meeting a new family member but let them know that it’s a no-no pulling at the dog’s fur.
If you’re not sure how to deal with some of his behaviors and habits, consulting a professional animal behaviorist will come in handy. While there’s a wealth of actionable tips online, professional behaviorists will surely offer expert and more detailed advice based specifically on the assessment of your dog’s case.
We could talk for hours going into the details of helping your adopted pet adjust. But we’ll always come back to the heart of everything—make your home the best home sweet home your new dog has ever had. Let that principle motivate everything you do, and your dog will also love you as the best family he has ever had.