This is a partnered post.
If you’ve opted to get a dog from a shelter, rather than a breeder, then you’re already doing something very admirable. Though they may not be as immediately sociable as other dogs, you’re offering this animal a loving, healthy environment that they’ve been deprived of for most of their life. Helping rescue dogs settle in takes a slightly different approach to ones from breeders, so here are a few pieces of advice to help you through the process.
Dogs, as you probably know, are very outward with showing signs of affection. Domesticated breeds have evolved alongside humans for thousands of years, and when a dog likes you, they let you know about it! However, your rescue dog may have a history of bad experiences with humans, and it can be hard to get them back to a state of relaxation and trust. Aside from their distrust of humans, they’re suddenly being moved from one familiar environment to a strange, new one. Don’t feel that you’re incompatible if they don’t greet you at the door straight away, or won’t touch the chicken jerky dog treats you’ve left out for them. It’s crucial to give a rescue dog all the time they need to really settle in. With enough time to adjust, they’ll become wonderful pets just like the ones you’d adopt from a good breeder.
Tone It Down
Many rescue dogs will take to their new owners fairly quickly, but only in an environment that’s easy to process, and comfortable to them. Take things easy for the first month or so after bringing them home. After adopting a dog, many people want to show them off to everyone they know, and invite a lot of friends over to see their new pet. This can confuse your dog, and trigger a lot of unhealthy stress in them. Remember that they’ve come from a very institutional environment in the shelter. They were familiar with the staff, and got used to the rhythm of feeding and other kinds of care. When they’re surrounded by people, all showering them with attention, they won’t know who’s who, where the food is, and who they’re meant to be bonding with. It’s fine to show people your dog, but take it slow.
Take It a Room at a Time
It’s generally a bad idea to open your whole home to a rescue dog from the minute you bring them home. They’re going to be tentative and anxious at first, having come from a fairly confined and regimented environment. They’ll be much better off exploring the new place at their own pace, rather than being guided from room to room on a lead. By letting them get to know their new home at their own pace, you’ll help them relax, and give them the confidence they’ll need to really settle in. Some shelter workers recommend creating a smaller, dog-friendly environment in your home, which your new pet will be able to settle into immediately. One little nook of the kitchen or living room is usually a good idea.