For those of you who have never adopted a dog, I can tell you a little bit about it. I have adopted six! Fergie, Biscuit, Macey, Baxter, Skippy, and Bentley – three girls; three boys. Seven if you count Cocobean who was the runt of the litter and was not adopted until 11 weeks. All were between age nine months and four. (Except Coco the puppy). All different breeds, all different sizes and personalities. But they have a common denominator: they’ve been displaced at least once or twice before finding a forever home.
Generally, rescues go from their home to either foster care or a temporary kennel. They may even go to a second place temporarily before arriving at your home. Most have had at least two homes prior to you. That’s tough. Some dogs easily love and adapt, while others need lots of encouragement.
You can almost feel the anxiety that they feel going to their new place where they don’t know the people or the surroundings. Imagine a child being taken from their home and going to the next place and how scary it must be to change homes. Our pups are no different. You can’t explain what’s happening.
But they do understand tone of voice and touch. And being pack animals, dogs innately want to please. They need and respond to a leader. They also love routine. One way to help is consistency.
Out to potty
Take rescues out regularly, give them a treat, and praise them each time they go potty outside. Because rescues are in a new surrounding, they don’t know the proper place to relieve themselves, and out of fear, they might have accidents. This is temporary. Be patient. Consistency and praise are the keys to success. Once they understand the rules, they are eager to please. I know this personally over and over.
Show leadership every time you are able
This includes having them sit until you give them their food. That way they are taking a little command from you. This shows leadership. Remember, they love leadership. Also, have them wait a second or two at your feet when you open the door to let them out; either go first (leading) or have them wait for your command. Again, this is you giving them commands so that they respect you. This all works toward having a well-behaved dog who will look to you for commands and respect others.
When you play toy with them, ensure that you are the one tossing it, so you are giving the command to go fetch. If the dog constantly brings you the toy and you pick it up and toss it (you reacting to the dog), the dog is giving you the command. But if you hold it for a second and say, “wait,” and then toss it, you are giving the command. These little behavior changes you make all build leadership and respect, thus resulting in a well-behaved dog.
Most importantly, give lots of praise and lots of love. Enjoy.