Imagine living for days, weeks, even months in a shelter where your home is a kennel surrounded by rows of other kennels and lots of unfamiliar barking dogs. There might be sadness and confusion if the dog was given up by its previous family. Maybe it was living as a stray, struggling to survive on the streets. The animal may have lived with an abusive or neglectful owner.
Then one day, everything changes. Someone new comes to the shelter and takes him or her home. All the surroundings, the people, and perhaps other pets inside the new home are new and confusing. The routine is completely different.
Even if a dog comes from a great shelter or foster home and is entering your loving home, there’s a lot of stress associated with so much change. As the new pet parent, you should be prepared to help make the transition as comfortable and soothing as possible. It’s going to take both time and some patience.
Dogs need a period of time to decompress and get back to a calm state of mind, and the amount of time that requires can vary with each dog. At a minimum, expect it to take at least a full week, sometimes even a couple mo. During that time treat the dog with respect while giving gentle guidance, exercise – walking and playing – and bonding through quiet times together.
Be sure if you do decide to change your dogs diet, that you do a slow transition. Changing a dog's food abruptly can cause diarrhea, sometimes for several weeks. To avoid this, continue feeding the same food provided by the foster home, or mix the old with the new to gradually adjust your dog to a new diet. Instructions on switching to a new food as well as guidelines on how much to feed your dog and how often should be on the bag itself, however most dog food brands also have this information on their website. You can also ask your vet for advice on how to transition or what would be a good quality diet for your dog.
And remember when changing your dog's food: Low quality food can cause gastrointestinal issues, cardiovascular illness, osteoarthritis, poor skin & coat, and even cancer could result from feeding a dog low quality food for extended periods of time. Sure, you might a little money now choosing a low quality product; but if this leads to health problems, the cost of a few vet visits will quickly eliminate these savings and often surpass what might be saved on the cost of food.
Recognize when your new rescue dog dog is afraid. Fear is a powerful emotion that throws training and commands out of the window. Comforting the dog when he is afraid does not reinforce the fear as some believe. Speak in a soft voice, and stroke him gently until he calms down. You’re probably eager to show off your new canine companion to extended family and friends, but give it some time. During the decompression period allow the dog some time to relax and adjust before rushing them into social situations and expecting them to interact with strangers. We recommend you keep your dog home for at least two weeks to get adjusted to his new life transition, then slowly add small trips and adventures little by little.
If you have other pets, make those introductions slowly. Initially it’s best to let dogs get acquainted away from home, on a walk or in the park. The established dogs may feel more territorial in the home. If the animals seem to get along, let them continue their meet-and-greet in the back yard, supervised by you. When you feel comfortable – and only then – let them be together in the house. If you have any hesitation, keep them separated indoors and repeat the outdoor meetings until they all fully adjust.
Every dog will make the transition to a new home at his or her own speed. It can take a shelter dog 6-8 weeks or even more to fully adjust to a new home. Don’t worry if the behavior doesn’t fall into place right away. With love and patience, it will happen.
Even if the dog is house trained, expect some accidents when you bring a new dog home. The stress of change to a new environment and the associated anxiety can lead to training lapses. Set the dog up for success by taking him or her outside frequently and rewarding with lavish praise and a treat each time they eliminate outside. If you catch the dog in the act, don’t punish. Pick him up and take him outside to finish and praise and reward then. If you don’t catch the dog in the act, never punish him after the fact. The dog simply won’t remember the accident and will not understand why he is being punished. If the dog does something you like and want him to continue doing in the future, lavish praise and a treat will communicate that he should do this again.
Training isn't just knowing how to shake and rollover, you should make sure your dog learns the basics like sit, stay, and knowing their name. It may not seem like much, but it's an important skill to have when you need your dog to pay attention to you in the right situation.
You can learn your basics and more advanced training in our Drool School program.
Every dog needs grooming - whether they have short hair, long hair, hypoallergenic, shed a lot, etc. Grooming isn't just just brushing and shampoo - you should trim hair, clip nails, and brush their teeth too! Does brushing your dog's teeth sound silly? It shouldn't, just like you, your dog's dental health is important too. You should also make sure to have the teeth professionally cleaned by your vet once a year for deep cleaning and examination to prevent gum disease that can go unseen and untreated. If you are uncomfortable grooming your dog, be sure to research a groomer in your area and schedule regular sessions.
Another thing you should always keep in your arsenal of dog supplies: a flea comb and blue Dawn dish soap. Even if your dog doesn't have fleas, sometimes accidents can occur like going out to the park and it happens. Flea combs easily remove fleas and a quick bath with Dawn soap kills them fast. It's always good to keep your dog on flea/tick prevention though to keep the fleas and ticks at bay. Fleas & ticks are not only uncomfortable with the bites and potential infection, they can exasperate to tapeworms and develop dermatitis.
Loosing a dog can be scary, dangerous, and tragic. Many times owners get their dog back, many times it never comes and wait years to never see your dog again - or could even be too late if they cross rainbow bridge while lost. No one wants that to happen to their pet. So what can you do to prevent this from happening to you?
All cats, dogs, and ferrets that are four months of age or older residing in Lee County for at least 30 days per year must be vaccinated against rabies and licensed by Lee County. If your pet's rabies vaccine is still current from another state, you only need to purchase a Lee County license, which will expire when the rabies vaccination expires. The ordinance may differ in other counties and states.
This ordinance enables Lee County Domestic Animal Services to return pets to their owners when they are lost. It also ensures that all pets receive a current rabies vaccination, which is necessary for public health and safety because this fatal disease is transmissible to humans.
Not only is a license required by Lee County, but a pet license and a microchip is the best proof of ownership you can have in case a pet is lost or stolen.
You can buy a Lee County license one of three ways: