Why Rescue Dogs Need Special Care
When you make the choice to adopt a rescue dog, you’re committing to care for an animal that has been neglected, spent time in an abusive situation and/or lived as a stray. Naturally, rescue dogs tend to be a bit more guarded toward humans, so fostering an environment in which the dog can let his guard down and eventually feel a sense of comfort and normancy is of the utmost importance.
All dogs are different in terms of demeanor, and the variety of disposition is even greater within the rescue dog community. However, there are tips and tricks that will help any rescue dog owner acclimate their new best friend to a new environment and life.
Finding a Shelter
Acquiring a dog these days seems trickier than ever. Purchasing a canine from a pet shop can draw the ire of the dog-activism community, but acquiring a rescue dog is not without its pitfalls either. There are several criteria that should be adhered to when deciding upon a shelter. All shelters have their differences, but taking the time to find a reputable dog adoption center is well worth it, as your relationship with them will likely be ongoing.
Once you’ve located a trustworthy shelter, be prepared to fill out a questionnaire and other paperwork, followed by an interview process to assess your viability as an owner. This is a good thing, as it shows that the shelter cares about where it places its pups. They want to make sure that you and the dog are an ideal match before signing over custody.
Bringing Rover Home
Like any dog – rescued or otherwise – owners should purchase a leash, collar, food, bowls, toys, and other essential items before picking up your pup for the first trip home. Rescue dogs, considering their sense of instability in a new environment, need to be treated with special care during their acclimation period.
Calmness is key when it comes to introductions, both to the home and people. It’s recommended that the dog is introduced into the home when it’s empty and quiet. Let him sniff around and get a lay of the land, keeping him on a leash if it feels necessary.
When it comes to introductions, they should be conducted one-at-a-time, and outdoors if possible. This will limit the feelings of anxiety and prevent the dog from becoming rapidly overwhelmed, possibly reacting in a way that goes against their nature. Other pets should be introduced to the new, furry resident with caution, and shouldn’t be left alone together until a true sense of comfort has been established.
Lastly, don’t venture too far from home at first. The dog’s sense of place will arise from familiarity, and this familiarity will help to calm his nerves in the new environment. If the dog seems overwhelmed at any point – and even if he doesn’t – give him some alone time and free space to collect his sense of peace.
When You Have to Leave
Rescue dogs know the sense of abandonment far too well. That’s not to say that you should feel guilty about going to work; you shouldn’t. But understanding that a rescue dog yearns for companionship means taking steps to assuage the anxiety created by your weekday routine.
For one, make sure that you leave ample food and water for your dog. It’s ideal to establish a bathroom routine, too, whether that means installing a doggy door or an indoor area. Hiring a dog walker to take your pooch out during the day and check on their food and water is also recommended, as it can create a welcome distraction from the solitude. Eventually, your dog will come to understand that your absence is normal, but they can’t help but miss you, it’s just what dogs do.
Adopting a rescue dog is noble, but it also comes with some added responsibility. Rescue dog owners have consciously decided to be the source of love and stability so many rescues lack, and living up to that responsibility is crucial. Finding the right shelter, being prepared, staying calm, and making sure your dog has a good routine for when you’re gone will help to foster the unmatched sense of love which that dogs can provide humans, and vice versa. It creates the foundation for a lasting friendship.