Bringing a new rescue dog home is a transition period not only for you, but also for your new four (or three) legged family member. It can also be a very fun and exciting time for you (you just got a dog-who wouldn’t be excited?!). Keep in mind though, that for your new dog- this is a time of adjustment and learning about a brand new space. We will discuss some common issues that might come up and how to address them. This is not an extensive list of common issues, we are merely scratching the surface. It’s also possible that none of this will apply to you-that’s great! However, for those of you it does apply to, working with a trainer can go a long way in setting you and your dog up for success.
If you can help it, keep your dog on the same food diet they were on before they came to you. This can help prevent an upset stomach (diarrhea and/or vomiting). Also know that your dog might not eat for the first day while being with you. Add some chicken broth or boiled chicken to your dog’s meal to encourage them to eat. Your dog should not go for more than two days without eating-if they do, contact your vet.
Always trade something of equal or higher value if you are trying to take away something from your dog (rawhide, bully stick, new toy, etc.). If your dog is growling, barring teeth, or barking at you when you get close-toss some high value treats from a distance to distract your dog so that you can work on resource guarding by creating a positive association with your proximity to them while they have something yummy in their possession.
Even if you were told your dog does well with new people-bring out the cheese and the hot dogs and toss those high value treats on the floor whenever a new person comes in the house. Remember that your dog has been under a lot of stress lately-animal shelters do a great job at providing a safe space for dogs, but it’s still a loud and scary environment for dogs to be in. Pairing new people in their life with yummy treats will help in forming a positive association. If your dog is fearful of strangers-allow them to work at their own speed, never force them into a situation.
Some dogs may go to the bathroom in your home the first couple of weeks-this doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t potty trained. It could be a sign of stress. Be sure to take them out for plenty of short walks to allow them time to use the bathroom several times. Always praise them for going outside and never punish them for going inside. Remember they’ve been going through a lot of stress lately between all the transitions, so it will take some time for your dog to get adjusted to their new schedule.
If your dog seems to be fearful or nervous around you-try your best not to be offended. It will take time for you to develop a bond with your new dog and earn their trust. Be patient, take it slow, and in case this wasn’t clear already-treats can make you a pretty exciting and positive person. Don’t push your dog to be pet or to interact with you. Let them come to you when they are ready, this will help build a more trustful relationship with you in the long run.
Similar with strangers, even if you were told your dog does well with new dogs-bring out the cheese and the hot dogs to ensure a positive interaction between new doggy friends. Avoid having your new dog interact with dogs while on leash, greeting dogs on leash often sets them up to fail. A natural way for dogs to greet is in a circular fashion while sniffing each other’s butts-the leash doesn’t allow for this greeting and often results in scuffles. If you are going to introduce your dog to another dog-do it off leash.
As we said at the beginning, these are just a few common situations you might find yourself in. Signing up for a Basic Manners Class, Growly Class, or private session are all great ways to talk through more specific behaviors you have questions on. You can look at our class offerings here: https://www.paws4training.com/classes/
Here are a few of the local rescue organizations: