Homeward Bound: 5 Tips for Helping Your New Rescue Dog Settle In
Adopting a dog is a rewarding and emotional experience. You’ve taken the opportunity to give a deserving animal a new, wonderful life and you’ve earned the right to be proud and excited about your new BFF. Immediately introducing your new pup to all of your friends and family is tempting and almost impossible to resist. But, now that you’re a new pet parent, considering what’s best for your dog is important too. Taking it easy for the first week of your dog’s new life is a great way to help them settle into their new surroundings and get to know you better.
1. Decompression Session
Shelter life is hectic for a dog. Lots of loud noises, bright lights and overstimulation affect a rescue dog’s psyche which in turn has an effect on their behavior. Adjusting to the sights, sounds and smells of a new home is an exciting but overwhelming experience for a dog. The best way to let your dog decompress and let go of the stress they felt while living in the shelter is to give them time to get used to their new environment and the people in it before introducing them to too many non-household members.
2. Routines Rock
Breakfast time and dinner time at the shelter was most likely at different hours than what breakfast and dinner time will be in your home. It’s not necessary to adjust your daily life to try and match the shelter feeding times, but it is helpful to keep your dog on a daily feeding schedule. Your dog will spend less time wondering when their next meal is and more time getting to know you and their new house.
3. A Place for Space
Wanting to snuggle your new dog, be near them all the time and never let them out of your sight is completely normal. If you have a dog that wants to be cuddled, loved on and played with all day… go for it! But, it’s important to consider that not all dogs are the same and your new dog may need some space. If your pup is keeping their distance, don’t overthink it. They’re not avoiding you; they just need some time to build trust and gain confidence. If you have a shy dog, try sitting in the middle of the floor, avoiding eye contact. Keep calm and speak in a warm happy voice until your new dog gains some confidence. As their curiosity takes over they'll come closer. Extend an outstretched hand, palm up, with a small treat in the center. Let your dog take the treat from your palm and if they’re willing, give them a soft scratch under the chin. Practicing this exercise will help your shy dog trust that you are friend not foe.
4. Bathroom Breaks
Whether your new dog is already housebroken or if they haven’t quite mastered the art of going to the bathroom outside, taking your pup for frequent potty breaks is a great way to avoid any accidents and unnecessary stress in the house. It’s important to remember that until your pup identifies your house as their home, they may be a bit disoriented and no matter how well trained they are, they could run off. Using a leash when leaving any fenced area, keeping an eye on your dog when they're alone in the yard, getting your dog microchipped and buying them a collar with an updated tag are great ways to skip the stress of an accidental escape. Need help housebreaking your dog? Check out our article S#*! Happens: 3 Tips for Housebreaking your Dog.
5. Toys, toys, toys!
A dog can never have too many toys! Feel free to go nuts and spoil your pup with different types of toys. As your dog begins to relax, unwind and settle into your home their personality will blossom and you will get to learn what types of toys your dog likes to play with. Whether your dog likes squeaky ones, balls, ropes, bones or interactive toys, it’s important to make sure the toys you give your dog are safe for them to chew with no small parts that they could potentially choke on or stuffing they could eat. Playtime is bonding time. The more you play with your new dog (if they want to play), the stronger your bond will grow and the quicker they will settle into their new life.
What's Mine is Not Yours
Until taught otherwise, our dogs do not differentiate between their own toys, kids' toy and our stuff.