So, you’re about to become the proud pet parent of one very lucky rescue dog… Congratulations! You are giving a dog a new start and a second chance at life and we think that’s pretty incredible!
Rescue dogs come into our lives with their own unique histories. Those first few days, weeks and months are crucial for ensuring you and your dog are set up for a lifetime of success.
We want to make sure you and your new furry family member get off to the very best start, so we’re bringing you our top three tips that will ensure you ‘get it right’ when you first bring home a new rescue dog!
If you want to learn all you can before (and after) your new dog comes home, check out our free 7-Day Collection of Rescue Dog Resources!
1: Before Bringing Your Rescue Dog Home
To set yourself up for success and get off to the right start, there are some extremely valuable things to consider before your rescue dog even comes home, such as:
- What do you want your lifestyle with them to actually look like?
- How would you like them to behave in the house?
- Do you have a multi-dog household and would like different rules for your new dog?
The next step in setting yourself – and your new rescue dog – up for success is making sure that you understand your dog, their potential history and where they are coming to you from.
The reality is, your new rescue dog might arrive with some labels. Those labels might come from their past, like ‘naughty’ or ‘overexcitable’. They might be labels attached by others, like ‘anxious’, ‘reactive’ or ‘aggressive’. You may even be told your new rescue needs a certain style of training because of their age, breed or size.
The truth is, you can strip off those labels. They are your dog now. Not a rescue or a rehome, or any of the labels they’ve been given in the past.
Your new dog’s history should not become their story and taking the time to get to know your them, both before and after they come into your home, can really help you start off on the right track.
2: Getting to Know Your New Rescue Dog
When you bring your rescue dog home, it’s all very exciting. It can also be very overwhelming too – for both you and your new canine companion.
The first step in this new adventure is simply getting to know your rescue dog:
- How do they behave and interact with you – and your family?
- Take time to learn what they are comfortable with and what lights them up!
- Remember to observe what worries them or makes them uncomfortable too!
Don’t forget, everything is changing for your dog. They are likely to be a little unsure at first and it may take some time before they gain confidence and begin to truly relax and let their unique personality shine (and any potential behaviour struggles they might have).
3: Allow Your Rescue Dog to Get Settled
In those first few days and weeks, it will be so important to give your new dog space, to keep the pressure off and avoid over-facing them with too many new things.
Remember the golden 3x3x3 rule for rescue dogs:
- 3 days = everything is new and likely overwhelming
- 3 weeks = beginning to settle in (and maybe showing some struggles too)
- 3 months = feeling secure, comfortable and trusts their bond with you
No matter how your dog approaches their introduction to your home, we know every dog is an individual.
By learning all you can about your dog and observing their behaviour when they arrive home, you can be ready to adapt to their needs and give them the time and space they might need to truly settle in and feel at home with you.
BONUS: Strategies for a Rockstar Rescue Dog!
Invest in Calmness
A calm dog makes great decisions, no matter the situation. A dog that has learnt how to be calm and who can relax in any environment is less likely to be reactive or to discover inappropriate behaviours such as jumping up, digging in the garden, barking, counter surfing, pulling on lead and so much more!
Calmness is something you can begin growing from day one and for the rest of your rescue dog’s life – and we’ve got a free eBook to tell you how!
A Reinforcement Rich Life
Using your rescue dog’s daily food allowance to offer rewarding experiences through training and everyday interactions with you, as well as providing enriching activities to keep them physically and mentally stimulated is something we like to call Ditch the Bowl. It’s our way of communicating with our dogs and ensuring that we have a really strong relationship with them. You can find out all about Ditch the Bowl (and more!) in this super blog entry!
Enjoy every moment!
This is probably one of the most important things to remember. On the days when things feel stretching, where you are faced with challenges or are wondering what you signed up for, remember to take time and enjoy the little moments.
Your rescue dog is a part of your family now. They are your dog and they will never set out to give you a hard time, no matter the struggles you might face. They will love you unconditionally and find joy in being with you, so be sure to enjoy every moment and invest in your relationship with your dog!
With the tips, strategies and powerful resources we’ve packed into today’s blog, we just know that you are going to get off to the very best start when you bring your new rescue dog home!
Would you like even MORE tips, tricks, solutions and hacks for life with your new rescue dog? Check out our Sexier than a Squirrel podcast episode: How to Successfully Foster, Rescue and Rehome Any Dog.