So you’ve adopted a dog – congratulations! You’re probably feeling happy, excited, and a little nervous. Obviously, you want your new pooch to settle in perfectly and feel at home right away! This may not happen exactly as you envision it, however, there are a few things you can do to ensure your new dog’s transition into your home goes smoothly.
Here are some tips for helping your rescue dog to settle into your home smoothly, including the very important 3-3-3 rule.
Helping your rescue dog settle in
Make them feel comfortable
Rescue dogs are a special case for settling into new homes because usually, we can never know exactly what kind of background or history they have, or what they’ve been through before. If you’re adopting a puppy then you have a little bit of a clean slate, but an older dog might have particular characteristics and nuances that you’ll discover as you go along.
All you can do when you first bring your dog home is to make sure that they have everything they need and make them feel as comfortable as possible, from their own safe bed to a pet first aid kit. To help your rescue dog feel secure, make sure they have an indoor space that’s just their own (and preferably near you), with warm, soft, and comfortable bedding that will make them feel right at home.
Bond with them
You’ve likely brought a rescue dog into your home looking for a new best friend, so it’s only natural that you’ll want to spend ALL your time with your dog. Although your dog may enjoy this in the future, it’s important to remember that they’re still getting to know you, and may feel a little unsure of you at first. Offer them gentle pats, a little bit of grooming, some walks, and a few games, but don’t be offended if they get overwhelmed and instead just want to lie down in their crate or bed. Give it time!
Introduce your dogs carefully
Just like moving house is stressful for humans, moving house is also stressful for dogs! This is especially the case for rescue dogs, who may have had many different homes before yours, and may also be struggling with the adjustment from their kennels. This is why if you already have a dog at home, it’s best to wait a few days before introducing them to your new pooch so that everyone can settle down and be in a relaxed state of mind when introductions are made.
Introduce your dogs on neutral territory (ideally at the shelter beforehand or on the nature strip at the front of your house) as this can ease tensions and prevent territorial aggression. Make sure to supervise carefully and provide both dogs with lots of treats, cuddles, and pats when they behave well. Take them for a walk together and give them plenty of opportunities to smell each other and become acquainted.
Take note of the 3-3-3 rule
If you are interested in a pet career, then the 3-3-3 rule will be especially useful. Nonetheless, it’s important to all pet parents too. Here’s what you might be able to expect from your experience bringing a rescue dog home at three days, three weeks, and three-month intervals.
In the first three days at home with you, your dog may:
- Feel overwhelmed by their surroundings
- Not feel comfortable enough to be himself
- Not want to eat their food or drink their water
- Be scared and unsure of what’s going on
- Shut down and curl up in their bed
- Behave definitely and test your boundaries
In the first three weeks at home with you, your rescue dog may:
- Start to settle in
- Feel more comfortable
- Figure out his environment
- Get into the routine you’ve set
- Let their guard down and start showing their real personality
- Start showing ingrained behavior issues
- Figure out this is their new home
After three months at home with you, your dog may:
- Feel comfortable at home
- Have built trust and a true bond with you
- Have gained a complete sense of security with their new family
- Embrace their new routine wholeheartedly
Making your rescue dog feel at home
Bringing a new furry friend home can be overwhelming, and you’ve likely spent weeks preparing before the ‘big day’. Although it may not always go as you planned, all you can do is make sure your dog feels comfortable, knows their new routine, trusts you, and feels secure in their new home. When they start coming out of their shell, consider treating them with a new toy or try out some fun kong recipes to treat them. Every dog is different and every experience will be different, but after a few months, your rescue dog is bound to be loving life with you, and thank every chance they get for taking them out of the kennels.
About the Author: Emma is a professional writer and blogger, with two furry friends and a lot of pet behavioral and pet health knowledge to share. She has written for numerous big animal magazines and health sites, and is a regular contributor to The Catington Post.