by Jessica Brody
Tips for First-Time Owners on Bringing Home a Rescue Dog
As a first-time owner, bringing home a rescue dog presents its own specific challenges. You’re bringing home a pet that has already lived a great deal of its life, complete with its own experiences - both good and bad. A rescue dog has gone through a traumatic event or two before they get to you. Either they were picked up as a stray or abandoned by their owners. They’ve spent some time in a shelter - which is stressful even in the most caring of facilities. The most important thing is to be patient with your new dog, as fully acclimating to their new home may take some time. Just like humans going through recovery (which dogs can actually help with) or some other stressful life event, dogs require proper care and guidance to help them get through it.
Take them on a home tour
Part of making your dog feel at home is letting them get acquainted with every part of their new living space. When you bring home your rescue dog, one of the first orders of business is taking them on a full tour of the premises.
You should know that there is a certain way this should go. Don’t just let your dog roam freely around the house.
“Do not let her sniff or wander around. Use the leash to keep her at your side. Spend a few minutes in each room before moving on to the next, and make sure each time you go first into the next room. Every door is an opportunity to establish your leadership, you go first, the dog waits your invitation to enter or exit,” says famous dog trainer Cesar Millan.
After the tour is over, you should limit your dog to one specific room or area - at least at first. This can help settle them into their new routine without overwhelming them with the vast
expanse of a brand new house.
Establish rules and boundaries from day one
Dogs like structure. Rules allow them to make sense of their world and prevents them from being confused about how to properly obey their owner. From day one, your new dog needs to know what it can and cannot do around the house. Discuss these rules with everyone in your household to make sure you’re on the same page. Letting the dog do something one day and admonishing them for the same thing the next is a sure-fire way to create a nervous, unhappy dog.
Begin training from scratch
There’s really no way to know how and to what extent your rescue pup has been trained. That’s why it’s best to assume you are starting from the ground up.
“Treat your shelter dog the same way you would a new puppy coming into your house. Assume he has never had any training. Even if he has had obedience training in the past, he may need a refresher after all he's been through. Your best bet is to expect that he knows nothing,” says TheSpruce.com.
Teaching your dog commands not only helps them to be better behaved but also promotes bonding between pet and owner. Don’t be afraid to use plenty of treats as you go - but be sure to only give praise and rewards for good behavior. Don’t use it as a bribe to try to quell bad behavior.
Rescuing a dog is one of life’s great pleasures. Taking a neglected or forgotten dog and watching them grow into a happy, healthy dog is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. But you need to know that with rescue dogs come specific challenges. You may be getting a wild card, and establishing rules and beginning training on day one can help you overcome these obstacles.
Special to Kings Canyon Veterinary Foundation
by Jessica Brody
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com