Helping Your Newly Rescued Animal Adjust

We get lots of great questions from adopters asking for advice on their newly adopted pet. This article may help with the adjustment period for you and for them. All of our animals have been rescued and we most times do not know their history. But we do know how to help. This article addresses a lot of the behaviors that come out once they are in a new home. Thank you Mercola Healthy Pets for the great article.

Many dogs get dropped off at shelters more than once, often because the behaviors that were behind the first relinquishment continue in the new home.

Common reasons for the initial abandonment most often revolve around the owner’s inability or unwillingness to give the animal an appropriate level of care, and include:

Lack of obedience training
Lack of adequate veterinary care, including spaying or neutering
The owner did not anticipate the time and attention a dog requires each day
Housebreaking issues

Specific behavior problems described by owners who returned their adopted pets to shelters include:

Fearfulness
Once stray dogs that persist in straying activities
Puppies with more and bigger behavioral problems than older dogs
Excessive barking
Aggression toward other dogs

Dr. Becker’s Comments:

Most canine behavior problems can be resolved with effort, time and patience.

When a dog is surrendered more than once to a shelter, it means at least two sets of owners weren’t able to help the poor pup make the transition from rescue dog to family pet.

Each successive surrender decreases a dog’s chance of finding a suitable forever home. That’s why it’s so important for adoptive pet parents to understand what their new dog may need in order to reach his full potential as a beloved family pet.

New Home Jitters

Each rescued or adopted dog will react a bit differently when introduced to a new home, but common behaviors can include:

Fearful body language and facial expressions
Finding places to hide
Wariness and general inhibited behavior
Lack of appetite

This conduct may or not linger as your dog adapts to his new family and living situation. You should keep in mind your new pet’s personality and temperament may not emerge on his first day home, or even during the first week or two.

Acclimating a Rescue Dog to a New Environment

The safer and more comfortable your adopted dog feels in his new home, the less fearful and anxious he’ll be, and the quicker his true temperament will reveal itself. If you haven’t had a pooch in the house before, consider watching my video on how to puppy proof your home. Even if you adopt an older dog, you may still have to make your home a safe environment for the new addition.

It’s a good idea to put his bed and a few toys in a slightly out-of-the-way spot where he can still see and hear his new family, but from a safe distance.

If you plan to use a crate as a safe place or bedroom for a dog that hasn’t been crate trained or is fearful of small enclosures, be careful not to force the issue right off the bat. Many dogs have had negative experiences in a crate. I recommend you view my crate training video and read the accompanying article for lots of tips on how to successfully crate train your dog.

When it comes to attention, affection and new experiences for your dog, set a slow, consistent pace. Lavishing excessive attention on your new addition can set her up for separation anxiety behaviors when you must leave her later on.

It’s preferable in the beginning to have a slightly bored pup than one that is over-stimulated. Mealtimes, in particular, should be in a calm, quiet setting. This is especially true with a dog that doesn’t have much appetite in those first days at home. Continue with your normal daily routine, new pup included, from the get go.

Daily walks and other forms of exercise, and playtime with favorite toys are critical to the physical and mental well-being of all dogs, but especially a new furry adoptee or rescue.

If your dog isn’t leash trained or has bad leash manners, consult with a positive-reinforcement dog trainer immediately to begin working on forming new, appropriate manners.

Building a Bond

Bonding with your adopted pet means building a trusting relationship with her. This will happen primarily through your interactions with her and the way you respond to her – especially when she misbehaves.

Anyone who adopts a dog from a shelter or rescue organization should anticipate certain behavioral problems and gather the resources necessary to deal with them.

The majority of behavior problems in adopted dogs stem from a lack of proper socialization and training, so those are good places to start.

Physical punishment should never be part of the equation. It’s not effective long-term, it can cause harm to the animal, and it will tear away at the still-fragile bond between you and your pet.

Addressing Behavior Problems

Dogs learn desired behavior through positive reinforcement. There are dozens of techniques you can learn to effectively control your dog and eliminate problem behaviors.

Consistent daily exercise
A species-appropriate diet
Good veterinary care
Socialization, obedience training and behavior modification as required

The sooner you address your pet’s behavior issue, the better the chance of a satisfactory resolution to the problem.

Referenced from http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2011/02/03/helping-rescue-dogs-transition-to-new-homes.aspx

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