young caucasian female playing with her siberian husky puppy in the field during the sunset. happy smiling girl having fun with puppy outdoors in beautiful light

Bringing Home Your Rescue Dog

Adoption of animals has become a more desired option than pet store purchases. Many rescue groups work tirelessly to alert the public of unwanted pets and overpopulation of animals. Dogs are the number one choice for a family pet. Rescue dogs often come from the street or are taken from abusive owners. Adult dogs may already have a set personality. The unknown background of rescue dogs can make them somewhat of a mystery. There are some tactics you can employ when bringing home a rescue dog, however, that will make the transition easier on both of you.

Prepare to Persevere

The rescue of any animal should be well prepared for.  Whether you are bringing home a puppy or an older dog, you need to be ready for a long journey. Many dogs acclimate quickly, while others need more time. Be ready from day one to stick with your decision. Building a relationship with any animal takes time. Most shelters and rescues will tell you to allow two weeks for decompression; some animals, however, may take several months. Be prepared for the dog to sleep a lot, hide, and exhibit a cautious attitude. Your home may be the first safe place this dog has had to rest in a very long time. Once the dog begins to trust you, their personality will shine through. Wait for it patiently.

puppy playing tug of war

Stay in Contact with the Organization

If your dog came from a shelter, the staff may be helpful in answering questions on basic care and behavioral issues. If you have a dog that was lucky enough to have been in a loving foster home through a rescue, there is someone available that knows them well. Take advantage of this previous relationship to help you understand your new family member. Stay in contact by phone, email, or social media; this will assure the rescue group that you are committed to providing a good home to the dog, and you will find relief in knowing more about your new dog.

labrador retriever dog on the arm with his tongue hanging out - lazy sweet dog

Research, Research, Research

Your first rescue dog can make or break your attitude toward rescue animals in general. Do not go into the situation uneducated. If you know the breed you are bringing home, learn about their personality and health traits. Try to understand developmental stages and gender-associated difficulties. A social media page or forum with other rescue families can be a big help as well. You may discover that your dog is not the only one having a difficult time adjusting. Read some success stories to see the happy ending that is possible.

dog sitting next to owner using laptop

Bring in Some Help

Some issues require some extra intervention. If you can afford a professional trainer, have one visit your home and assess the situation. Many rescue groups will work with you on the costs; otherwise, they will have to bring the dog back into rescue. This can incur more vet, training, and foster care costs for the rescue. The constant changes are also bad for the dog. Discuss any problems with the group and ask for help with training costs. If they see you are committed, they may provide some donations or set up a paid visit with a trainer they trust. Many pet stores offer puppy classes that can assist with basic training. Reach out for help before the complications become unbearable. The stress will only make the dog’s behavior worse.

couple walking dog through winter woodland

Secure Proper Vet Care

Most rescue groups will properly vet the dog before they are surrendered to you. This will include a checkup and yearly shots. They will have also received an appropriate spay or neuter. Physical ailments can cause a myriad of undesired behaviors. (Try to consider how you feel when you are unwell.) Every dog you bring home should see a vet as soon as possible. Even if your dog is absent of any health complications, it is good to get your dog used to the new vet clinic. This is where you will be taking your dog for annual check-ups, shots, and other care, so it is important for them to learn how to be comfortable with the environment and employees.

veterinarian examing boxer dog in her animal clinic

Don’t Rule Out Exercise

Although dogs will sleep for a large part of the day, they need activity for their mental and physical health. The activity level of your new dog will depend on the breed and age. A good walk or run will give your dog a chance to explore, as well as work out their body. Many destructive dogs will behave much differently when given the opportunity to get their energy out. A worn-out dog will also sleep much better. You and your dog will both benefit from an active lifestyle. If you work long hours, however, consider a daycare program once or twice a week.

happy woman playing on the beach with golden retriever

Sometimes, It’s Not the Right Fit

Proper preparation will help you to make the right decision before you bring any dog home, but sometimes it just does not work out. You and the dog both deserve to find the right relationship, and when you truly care for an animal, you can find solace in doing what is right for them. Most rescue groups will have you sign a contract requiring that you return the dog to them if it doesn’t work out. There are some legitimate reasons why a certain type of dog may not be the best fit for your home. Discuss the options with the rescue group and do what is best for both of you.

black labrador

Rescue dogs can be amazing, loyal family members. It is up to the humans to help bring out the best in their dog. These special animals may need some extra effort, but they’re well worth it. Every dog is different, and will need something specific to acclimate. It is important to understand their unique needs and persevere through difficulties. When you find the right dog for your family, the relationship will be invaluable.

About the Author:

My life long love of pets turned into a dream career in 2005 with my husband John. We had met that same year at a pet store. Together we created  the happy pooch. A site dedicated to dogs being happy. We are proud to be dog owners and want the best for these animals!

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