Taking on a rescue dog
There are so many things to consider when taking on a rescue dog. She has such a cute little smile ( I know it looks a little toothy and could be perceived as being scary). It took a few days for this ex-street dog to figure that she was “home” and her face says it all, over and over again.
I remember the first time I saw this little smile after her epic 4 day non-stop (apart from toilet breaks) road trip from Bulgaria to the UK, it melted my heart.
Making the decision to take on any rescue dog is brave, courageous and super kind.
Some of the challenges with a rescue dog I experienced.
It isn’t without its challenges and the first 6 weeks with this one (Missy is on the right) were super tough, especially for her as she figured out all sorts of new things, situations and house rules.
- Having her own bed – she didn’t like us tidying or cleaning it at first. The first couple of days wee’d all over it, she soon stopped that when she realised it was hers and we were taking care of her ?
- She learned about sharing toys after stealing all of the cats and Marshall’s, as well as anything else she could pilfer or steal such as socks or old toilet roll tubes ?
- Marshall, also an ex-street dog does not like to share food and learned to sit patiently waiting for his supper to be prepared and placed on the floor before eating. Missy learned very quickly that she too must wait. Marshall only had to tell her twice before she worked it out. ?
- Walking on a lead was super scary at first and we built it up with tiny micro walks, over and over the same route, extending our walk by 5-10 mins each day as long as she was relaxed until she learned walks meant good times! ⭐️
- Trips in the car took a little while to figure out as she was terrified of the whole thing until we took her to the beach and that changed everything ?
- Not going to the toilet overnight in the house was the biggest challenge, she got there after about 6 weeks. Patience and kindness went a long way to helping her understand ?
How to help a rescue dog adjust
There were many other factors that helped her settle in, which included lots of quiet time, letting her set the pace and most of all gently encouraging her to grow in confidence, with lots of love and play have made all the difference. Every dog will be different and these are some of the things that worked for Missy.
- Regular meals
- a routine
- being mindful of everything that is new to her such as kitchen cupboard drawers that open, plastic bags for putting rubbish in, card boxes for games, and the doorbell
- that us humans have human and doggie visitors,
- humans eat at a table and dogs eat from their bowls on the floor,
- dogs are not allowed on the dining table (that was interesting as she had never been in a house before)
- if she rolls in fox poo she will have to have a bath (we only did that twice – she HATES the bath)
- that puddles on the road are not the end of the world,
- she may not know what toys or games are
- do things slowly
- learning that actually going out each day can be heaps of fun!
Finding out that she loved to be brushed was a big game-changer, as this meant we could brush her at any time after a ‘scary’ or ‘stressful’ experience and if all else failed, she could always have a nap and we could try again the following day.
The biggest takeaway from taking on a rescue dog?
Patience is KEY to everything, your rescue dog must be allowed to set the pace, and given space to decompress after each scary, stressful or new experience in the form of a time out, a shake-off, a nap, or a whole sleep before attempting it again.
LOVE in abundance is going to be the magic in the transformation, once your rescue dog knows this is their forever home and that they aren’t hungry or scared they can start to let their personality shine through. Come out of survival mode and really start to shine. Watch out for the terrible twos, and teenage tantrums all at once as they catch up on their development too.
Life with your rescue dog is short and to be enjoyed so make time to allow this to happen, understand it won’t happen overnight, and give your dog the time and space to process their new life.
While life with your rescue dog may be shorter than you’d hoped as they are fully grown when they come to you, or the stress in their early years takes a few off their life expectancy, they will be so grateful for the second chance you gave them and you will see that in their behaviors as they blossom.
What next for you and your rescue dog?
For help with your rescue dog, I do recommend working with a positive-based dog trainer (and can recommend a couple that works in person and online) and booking an animal communication session so that you can both learn to understand one another, explain things and find out answers to each other’s questions.
If in any doubt get in touch and book a complimentary chat over a cup of tea with me Ruthy.