You’ve been to the shelter, picked out your new family member, filled out all the paperwork and now it’s time to head home. Rescuing a dog (or any other animal for that matter!) can be one of the most rewarding things you can do. We’ve put together some tips on how to bond with your rescue dog.
Give it time
This whole experience is completely overwhelming for your new family member. YOU may know that he is safe and loved but it may take some time for him to realise that. If he isn’t jumping around tail wagging the minute you get home, relax. There are heaps of new smells, sights and sounds for him to get used to in your home – many of which you won’t even be aware of. Give him space to explore safely. If he is particularly nervous, introduce him to new parts of the house a little at a time, let him get comfortable in one room or area before opening up the whole of the rest of the place.
Food can be used as a way to bond with your new hound. Many behaviourists suggest hand feeding as a way to bond with your dog, and this can work for some. Instead of putting a full bowl of food down in front of him, feed small handfuls at a time. The food will activate pleasure centres in your dog’s brain and he will start to associate you and your smell with happy, relaxed feelings.
The best way to bond with your dog is to put on those walking shoes and get out there. Walking and exploring the world together provides some quality one-on-one time and lets your pooch get used to his new neighbourhood. Lots of praise during your walk in high pitched tones will increase the bond between the two of you and before long walkies will become the highlight of your days!
Play is a great way to establish a relationship with your dog. Find out what he likes best. Some doggos love a good old tug-of-war with a rope toy, others may like a more traditional game of fetch and some may just want to play chase. Work out what sets that tail wagging and set time aside to play every single day
It will likely take your new dog 7 – 10 days to relax. During this time, his cortisol (stress hormone) levels will be high and he’s likely to behave strangely. There’s no way to predict how your new family member will react when he comes home – some will be hyperactive, others may retreat into themselves whilst some may chew, howl, whine or sleep lots. Have faith that this is just his adjustment period and things will settle down once he settles in. If the behaviours continue, there’s methods to stop excessive chewing, barking, digging and more on this blog!
If you’re going away or have a long day away from home, book a Mad Paws sitter to take care of your newest family member