You’ve made the big decision to welcome a rescue dog into your family. Congratulations! You’re not alone. According to the ASPCA, 2 million rescued dogs are adopted each year.
Whether you’ve already selected your new addition or you’re just beginning the process, you’ve probably already done some preliminary research. You’ve picked a breed that fits your home and lifestyle, asked your friends for veterinarian recommendations, and perhaps you’ve even purchased some of the essentials—food, water bowl, leash, etc.
But beyond the basics, what’s next?
Check out our 7 tips for smoothly transitioning Fido from rescue dog to family pet:
- Prepare the Entire Family for Pup’s Arrival. Everyone in the home needs to be on the same page from the get-go. Routines should be established for feeding and walking, as well as delegating responsibility for the dog’s care, taking work and school schedules into consideration.
- Limit the Excitement for a Few Days. Your new pet will likely feel overwhelmed and overstimulated when he first arrives at his new home. Take the time to introduce him to the family members, including other dogs, outside the home. Once introductions are made, calmly take your leashed rescue into the house for a quiet tour. Show him his food and water bowls, bed, and the backyard or other outdoor space. Give him time to adjust and settle in before bringing friends over to meet him.
- Spend Time Getting to Know Your Dog. This includes time inside and outside the home. It’s important to understand how your rescue reacts to certain stimuli, like strangers, other dogs or animals they see outside on walks, and loud noises. Keep walks short and sweet at first until you learn how your dog reacts to his environment.
- Establish Rules From the Very Start. Where will he sleep? Is he allowed on the furniture? What door should he go to when asking out? It might be tempting to let your new addition get away with some undesirable behaviors as they adjust to their new surroundings, but settings rules from day one will bring your dog a stronger sense of security than letting him make his own rules, especially ones you will want to break him of later on.
- Limit Your Dog’s Access to the House. Giving a new dog with possible unknown behavioral issues—chewing, marking, digging—total freedom of your home and yard could end in disaster. Keep your pup in a secure place when he can’t be supervised. Gradually grant him more access.
- Schedule a Veterinary Appointment. If you adopted your dog from a rescue, they most likely received vaccinations and were neutered/spayed. Even still, it’s a good idea to establish veterinary care early on, especially for puppies as they will likely need multiple boosters and worming treatments.
- Bond with Your New Best Friend! Once the initial settling-in phase is over and all those little quirks worked out, it’s time to nurture the relationship. There are countless ways to bond with your buddy, including walking, playing with toys, making friends at the Fredericksburg Dog Park, training and, of course, lots of cuddle time.
For more information on adopting a rescue, check out these local options:
- Old Dominion Humane Society: olddominionhumanesociety.org
- Fredericksburg SPCA: fredspca.org
- Spotsylvania Animal Shelter: spotsylvania.va.us/195/Animal-Shelter