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7 Tips To Get You And Your New Rescue Dog Off To A Good Start

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I get it. You have a new rescue dog and you want to show him off to the world! You want to bring your new dog everywhere you go, introduce him to everyone you know and have him meet every dog you can.

 

STOP!

 

Slow Down!

 

I know you’re excited, but your new rescue dog is stressed out.

 

Why?

 

He’s trying to figure out his new home and how he fits into his new pack.

 

The first 2 weeks are huge for starting off on the right foot.

 

As soon as you get home take your new rescue dog on leash to his potty spot and let him relieve himself.

 

Then:

 

1) Start small.

Have a small area set up before your new dog comes home. Use baby gates and play-yard panels if necessary.

A small area is comforting in a new place. It allows your dog to smell, hear and see how his new home works without being overwhelmed.

A small space is also easier to work the tips that follow.

Continue the smallness when you take him outdoors to potty.

Take him out on leash to the spot you want him to use.

You can also place a big marker there to mark the spot.

As your new dog relaxes into his new spaces over the next 2 weeks, gradually expand his areas.

When expanding his outdoor area start by walking him around on leash. Allow him to explore and find confidence in his new area.

If it is a secure backyard you can eventually let him off leash.

 

2) Hands off.

If you were in a new place with people you have never seen before would you want to be touched all day? Neither would your dog.

Keeping hands off allows your dog to feel safe.

Constant touching may make your new dog feel like he has to tell you off by barking, growling, or even biting.

 

3) Ignore.

I know this sounds harsh, but it is going to go a long way toward having your new rescue dog’s trust.

In the beginning hang out around your new dog’s small area. Don’t talk to or look at him for now. Go about your business.

If you need to leave the area, go without saying a word or looking at him. When you return be calm and say nothing. No eye contact.

Calmly go about your business. Your new dog is starting to learn that it is okay if you come and go.

This could curb separation anxiety before it even begins.

 

On the second day home try sitting in your new dog’s space.

Calmly sit without looking at or talking to your new dog.

If another person sits with you chat with that other person. Don’t engage your dog.

If you have chosen the type of dog who is all over you the moment you go in, walk right back out and try again in about an hour. Repeat if necessary.

 

When you get to sit and your new dog starts coming to you for pets, kisses, and affection. Don’t give in.

Instead, cross your arms, close your legs, turn your face away and lean forward. You have told your dog you wish to be left alone without saying a word.

If you have a dog who still won’t leave, gently use the back of your arm or even your leg to gently move him out of your space.

Dogs don’t need words. In fact most of their communication is by body language.

After your dog has moved off, relaxed and is laying down, maybe quietly playing with a toy, wait 5 minutes. Then calmly call your new dog to you.

You can even bribe him with a treat if you need to in the beginning, but he should soon come even without the treat.

When he comes you can gently praise and pet him.

Not only are you teaching your dog to trust you, but you have started to train a recall.

 

Play

Once your rescue dog starts getting the hang of all this try playing with him.

Use a toy you have set aside for only playing with you. He gets it at no other time. It’s special.

You should wait until you know each other a bit better before playing tug.

If play gets too rough, stop playing and walk away with the toy.

 

4) Feed after you have eaten.

If you feed 2 times a day, your dog would eat after breakfast and dinner.

Only do a once a day meal?  That’s fine. Feed after your meal.

There is another way to do this that will be explained in another post.

If your dog leaves food in his bowl after feeding, pick it up.

Be sure to not feed treats in between meals if your dog is leaving food.

You don’t want free feeding or leaving treats and bones laying around.  

You are teaching new dog that you are the giver of food.

He has no need to worry about his next meal.

 

5) No walks for at least the first week.

As you work through inside the house tips you are earning your rescue dog’s trust.

Once trust is established (don’t rush this) your trips outside should be easy.

Start small.

A walk around the block.

When your dog is comfortable with this try walking the neighborhood.

Then branch out a little farther.

Your new dog will be happy to go on bigger walks and visit new places because you have set a safe foundation.

If your dog doesn’t know how to walk on leash you can start here.

 

6) After 2 weeks. 

You can slowly begin to introduce your new rescue dog to friends and family if he is ready.

By now your dog knows his home, his new pack, and that he’s safe with you.

He should be able to relax when meeting friends and family.

Have your friends and family completely ignore your dog to begin with.

After your new dog relaxes they can call him to them.

You may also be able to introduce their pets, so long as your new dog is not reactive to other pets.

 

7) 2 weeks and beyond.

Practice grace.

Allow slip ups by both you and your new dog.

Don’t get frustrated.

Don’t yell.

Stop any training and return to the tips.

Be calm and consistent.

Not everything goes by a specific timetable.

Keep in mind that it is your responsibility to think like a dog, not your dog’s responsibility to think like a human.

 

With these tips your rescue dog is learning that you are trustworthy.

His true personality will shine because he can relax and be himself.

That is worth the short amount of time it takes to set a strong foundation.

 

Your turn. In the comments below let us know your #1 tip for introducing a new dog into your house.

 

Live, Love, Bark,

Jennifer

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