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Bringing Home a Rescue Dog: Help Fido Feel Comfortable

Melair Holterhoff Martinez, CMA,  Sr. Mortgage Advisor

August 1, 2022 — 6 min read

Bringing home a rescue dog is exciting, but adjusting to the sights, sounds, and smells of a new home can be overwhelming for a dog. You want everything to be perfect, from introducing your rescue dog to other pets and kids, to learning how to get a rescue dog to trust you, your dog will require time to adjust. In the meantime, there are things you can do to make the transition as smooth as possible. If you're bringing home a rescue dog, or if you're planning to in the future, use these tips to prepare your home and your heart for a furry friend.

Introducing a Rescue Dog to Pets and Kids

The love between people and pooches can be wonderful, but it's important to proceed with caution when introducing a rescue dog to kids and other animals in the home. Here are the three biggest things that you can do to help them feel more comfortable.

Teach kids to pet animals gently and don't leave them alone together.

Kids often love animals but don't always realize if they're pulling too hard on a dog's ears, tail, or coat. When introducing a rescue dog, teach children to approach the animal from the side and stop with enough room to let the dog approach them. If things progress positively, your child may offer their hand for the dog to sniff; this allows the dog to watch the child and greet them on their terms.

Meet other dogs on neutral ground.

Putting two dogs close to each other without an introduction can be a recipe for disaster. When introducing a rescue dog to another dog, make sure you start with both of them on a leash and on neutral ground. You must establish distance between them at first so that they don't feel threatened by the other's presence. If you're introducing a rescue dog to a dog that already lives in your home, you may want to use a baby gate to keep the two pets separate. Over time, if the dogs appear to be getting along, take the dogs on a walk near each other, but not side-by-side. The dogs should be walking in single-file with one person leading each animal. If possible, keep the animals about 10 feet apart--this will allow them to get used to each other without feeling overwhelmed.

Let the dogs interact on their own terms.

When the animals are ready, let them meet each other with leashes dragging and in the middle of a wide-open space. This will help to ensure that neither animal feels cornered. Additionally, the dragging leashes permit the animals to meet without being overly aware of their owners' presence. Every couple of minutes, separate the dogs--you don't want them to get too worked up or feel the need to assert their dominance. In general, they will display body language that indicates where the meeting is headed. Family introducing a rescue dog to other animals.
Positive body language:
  • Playful pawing
  • When a dog's rear end is pointed up and their front end down (they want to play)
  • When a dog is loosely wagging their tail, it indicates that a dog is feeling comfortable
Negative body language:
  • Stiff muscles, raised hackles, and bared teeth indicate the dogs are not getting along
  • If a dog's tail is tucked between its legs, it means the animal is unsure of how to respond to the other dog

How to Get a Rescue Dog to Trust You

You're eager to begin life with a new family member, but it's going to take time for your rescue dog to feel comfortable in its new space. However, it's also an extremely rewarding experience. If you're wondering how to get a rescue dog to trust you, here are a few strategies to help:

Offer them a comfort object.

Often, it helps an adopted dog feel more comfortable if they have access to a familiar blanket or toy. Before bringing your animal home, take an item to its existing home or rescue center, then take it back to yours.

Rock the routine.

Your dog's eating routine may be different from the routine you want to have at home. While you don't need to adjust your schedule to match the shelter's routine, it is helpful to keep a regular feeding schedule when bringing home a rescue dog. They'll spend less time wondering about their next meal and more time getting to know their new home.

Socialize slowly.

From the second your dog walks through your door, they're flooded with new scents, sounds, and sights. During the first few days, give them plenty of quiet time to help them acclimate to their surroundings. Your dog should need at least a week of transition time, but watch how they respond and proceed at their pace. When introducing new people or experiences, start small and don't do it all at once.

Stay calm.

Typically, our four-legged friends take emotional cues from us and are more perceptive than we give them credit for. Those first few days, you'll probably feel excited. However, your dog will probably feel anxious, and offering too much stimulus will be too much for them to handle. So, if you're wondering how to get a rescue dog to trust you, for that first little keep things quiet when your dog is around.

Make positive associations.

Positive associations help your dog feel like their home and everything that comes with it is the most wonderful thing in the world. From trucks to vacuum cleaners, be quick with praise and have treats at the ready. Young bot hugging new rescue dog in sunny backyard.

Pet Supplies for a Rescue Dog

Before bringing home a rescue dog, it's important to collect the necessary pet supplies for a rescue dog, including:
  • Supplements and medications, if required
  • Food and food dishes
  • Floor and carpet cleaner
  • Puppy pads, if required
  • Leashes and collars
  • Beds and crate
  • Stair guards
  • Toys
When introducing a rescue dog to a new home, it's also necessary to put away chewable valuables and household items, particularly if your dog is arriving home around the holidays. While celebrations are fun for humans, they can be dangerous for animals if we don't take precautions, such as using electrical cord covers or avoiding plants that are harmful to pets. Now that you're pup and ready, what home loan question do you have? We're committed to helping you and your pet find the perfect home loan option for your life. Contact your local Mortgage Advisor today.
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