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Friday, January 25, 2019

10 Tips for Introducing a Rescue Dog to Your Family and Home

Photo by Paul Schultz (Flickr)

Rescue dog adoption is a cause that's near and dear to my younger daughter's heart. In fact, she's so enthusiastic about the cause that we now volunteer together at a local dog shelter, where we play with the dogs, feed them, and introduce them to potential families. We also recently started training adoptive families on how to prepare for successful integration of their new furry friend. We recommend these ten tips that equip families like yours to introduce a rescue dog properly and successfully to your home.

Gather Supplies

Shopping for pet supplies is one of the fun aspects of dog adoption! Don't wait until after you bring your new dog home, though, to hit the pet store. Purchase everything you need in advance. Suggested supplies include a collar and a leash, a crate or safety gates, a bed, food, treats, bowls, toys, grooming tools, waste bags, and other items recommended by the rescue organization or your veterinarian.

Dog-Proof Your Home

Your new dog will be curious about its new home and will want to explore. To protect your pet and ensure its safety, remove potential hazards from all of the areas your dog can access. For example, place chemicals, plants, and valuable collectibles on a high shelf, secure power cords to the floor or baseboard, and cover electrical outlets.

Set up the House

We recently redecorated our guest room at home, and my daughter points out that like we created a cozy, welcoming, and functional space for guests, you'll want to do the same for your new dog. Spend some time deciding where you want your pet to eat and sleep, create pet-friendly spaces, and choose a convenient space to store its food, toys, and leash.

Agree on House Rules

If my daughter had her way, we'd rescue ten dogs, and they would all sleep on her bed. On the other hand, I think dogs should not sleep with their humans. This decision is just one reason you and your family members should sit down and negotiate house rules. Your rules may include areas where the dog is allowed, which commands you'll use, and behavior guidelines you want to enforce with your new pet.

Plan a Dog Care Schedule

If we ever adopt a dog, my younger daughter has vowed to do all of the dog care. I appreciate her enthusiasm, but I know I'll have to help sometimes, too. Likewise, your family should decide on a dog care schedule that fits your dog's needs. Plan who will be responsible for the dog's meals, walks, play, potty time, and behavior training each day, and ensure that everyone knows how to do each job correctly and safely.

Acclimate the Dog Slowly

I know it's easy to expect your new dog to feel at home instantly, but a move is stressful and overwhelming for your pet and for your family. Give your dog time to feel safe in your home and to feel comfortable around each family member with these steps.

  • Let the dog sniff around the yard and house.
  • Introduce it to the potty area, its bed or crate, and food and water bowls.
  • Allow the dog to approach each family member on its own terms; don't force interactions or touching.
  • Ensure that your children know the right way to approach the dog.
  • Provide solitary time for your dog to relax.

Begin Training Immediately

While you do want to give your dog time to settle in, you also want to ensure that your pet understands the house rules and expected behavior. Successful training will start right away and can include firm boundaries of areas the dog can access, a command list that each family member uses, and a daily routine of activities.

Establish a Daily Routine

A predictable daily routine can help your pet adjust to your home and improve bonding. Consult with the rescue organization and try to follow that same schedule with your new dog, including meals, potty breaks, walks, play time, and sleep. You can always adjust the routine if needed once your pet is acclimated to your home and family.

Limit Excitement

With all of the adjustments to a new home and people, your pet may feel overwhelmed at first. My daughter always recommends that adoptive families try to limit loud noises, forced contact, and interactions with strangers for at least a few weeks. Use this time to get to know your dog better, improve bonding, and foster feelings of security and safety.

Exercise Patience

Your new rescue dog will eventually become a trusted part of your family. However, it needs time to bond with you and your family. Plan to be patient as you get to know your dog's body language, habits, and preferences.

As my daughter says, adopt a rescue dog and you save a life. To ensure that you and your new family member properly and successfully bond, follow these ten tips. What other tips could help families introduce a new dog to their home?

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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