Bringing a new rescue dog home with you from the animal rescue is both wonderful and a little bit scary. You’re adding a new member to your family, and it’s going to be a bit of an adjustment to get everyone settled in. That can be unnerving for families as well as exciting. If that’s how you feel, you can imagine how your new pup feels!
Whether you’re bringing home a puppy or an adult rescue dog, he needs to feel welcomed to understand that this is his new home. You want his transition from “new dog” to a member of the family to be an easy one. Here are a few ways to make your new rescue dog feel at home more quickly.
Bringing Your New Dog Inside Your Home
You smile and reassuringly tell your new dog that this is his new home. He barks or turns his head, but he doesn’t really understand what you’re saying. It’s going to take a little time for him to feel at home. Here are some things you can do to help this process go more smoothly.
1. Stop for a Potty Break
Even if it was only a short drive, you want to encourage your new dog to stop and go potty before entering the house. It’s a good idea to take your time and make sure he does all his business before taking him inside. Some dogs pee when they get really excited or terrified, so emptying the tank as a preemptive measure is a good idea for both of you.
You don’t want your new pet’s first trip into the house to be upset by everyone trying to clean up a mess. Dogs recognize tone and emotions. If you get upset about an accident, the dog might end up afraid of you or skittish about his new surroundings — which is not how you want to introduce him to his new domain.
2. Give the Guided Tour
You want your new pet to feel at home and comfortable to explore, but you should keep the dog on his leash and show him the various rooms of the home when he first arrives. You need to take time and let him sniff some things that he finds interesting so he can get acclimated.
You want to encourage your new dog to enter each room and talk to him in calm voices as he explores the new surroundings. It’s a good idea to secure anything breakable or that you wouldn’t want a dog to get into. You want to make sure that all the toilet lids are down, for example, and that heirlooms or breakables are on higher shelves. This is also a good time to show your pup where you’ll set his food and water bowls.
3. Make a Smaller Area
While your home may not seem that large or confusing to you, it likely is to your new furry friend. Imagine if you were as small as your rescue dog and try to see your home from his perspective. This process would likely be overwhelming, especially if there are other pets or people in the home.
It’s a good idea to introduce your new pet to only a portion of your home. You want to block off some rooms — such as a study or a bedroom — and allow your new pup to get the feel of the main areas of the home first. If you have a two-story home, you might consider confining a new dog downstairs until he becomes comfortable, then introduce him to one new space at a time once he feels a bit more at home.
Introducing Your New Fur Baby to Family and Friends
Once news gets out that you’ve added a new dog to your family, everyone will want to meet him. All these new people can be overwhelming for a pup who is also getting used to a new home and new rules or schedules. There are some ways to make introductions easier, including:
4. Leashed Introductions
You’ve likely already gotten to know your rescue pup pretty well by the time you start introducing him to friends and neighbors. If he’s easily excited or aggressive when nervous, you might consider handling introductions to family, friends, and strangers while your dog is on a leash. This allows you to easily remove your pet from the situation if he becomes uncomfortable. It also helps you keep him from jumping up on anyone.
Some dogs are naturally friendly with everyone, while others might be skittish or less keen on outsiders. It’s always best to keep a close eye on your pet and follow his signals. Remove him from the situation if he seems uncomfortable, but allow him more room to get to know the new person if he seems happy or curious.
5. Stay Calm and Use Soothing Tones
Your dog takes his cues from you and your behavior. When introducing him to new people (or even when meeting strangers on the street), you need to remain calm and use soothing tones. If you get too loud or squeal in delight, your dog may become frightened or overly excited and jump up on the new person.
Bonding With Your New Rescue Dog
You’re already in love with your new rescue pup, which is why you made the commitment to adopt and offer him a forever home. There is still some bonding to be done between the pup, you, and your family, however. Here are some ways to make the process a little easier for everyone.
6. Be Careful of Too Much Affection
You want to spend your days with your new friend petting and loving on him, but he may not be up for that much affection. Some rescue dogs come from tough backgrounds and need a little more time to learn to trust you and your family. It’s a good idea to offer affection, but don’t force it on your new pet.
7. Pay Attention to the Signs
Your new dog will signal when he’s ready for affection and bonding. Since you’re in the getting-to-know-each-other phase, take your time and watch your new pup for signs that he wants more attention or that you’re giving too much. You want to follow his lead during this phase while he’s settling in and learning to love you back.
Settling In Is a Process
In a year, you likely won’t remember the challenges you went through in bringing your rescue dog home. You’ll be well into the days of loving each other, chasing balls, and taking long walks. In the meantime, though, you need to take your time to get to know each other and practice patience. It will take time, but the result will be a stronger relationship between the two of you.
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