Congratulations on rescuing your NEW BEST FRIEND! We are sure he will be a wonderful addition to the family. We have put together a quick guide of all of the basic things to consider and do in the first few weeks so that Fido and you not only adjust to living together but enjoy being together as a family. The most important thing to remember is the RULE OF THREE.
This can vary from dog to dog. Some dogs might fit in quicker and others might take a bit more time… the general idea being to give them time to settle in and feel part of the family.
What to do BEFORE you bring Fido home
There will naturally be a lot of excitement on Fido’s welcome to the family. It is beneficial to have everything that you and Fido need before he arrives. This will help to make a smooth introduction into the household. So, before Fido comes home:
Family talk on HOUSE RULES! Super important, everyone in the family needs to be on the same page on what Fido is and is not allowed to do. If one person lets him jump on the couch and the other shouts at him for doing so, poor Fido won’t know what is going on and that can make him very nervous. Start as you mean to go on, it’s harder to change a behaviour once it’s been allowed, rather than preventing it from happening in the first place.
Check that the outside area is secure, with no gaps in the fence or under the gate that Fido could slip through while exploring!
Homework for everyone in the family - make sure nothing is left out that you don’t want to be a possible chew toy. Fido won’t know when he first arrives what is acceptable to chew on and what is not. This includes TV and computer cables and such. Make sure he cannot have access to off-limit things.
Get shopping for a collar with an ID tag and/or harness and lead.
More shopping! Get Fido his own food bowl and sufficient water bowls if you have more than one dog.
Fido will need his own dog bed and blanket. Place these in Fido’s special area that he will be sleeping in.
One or two toys- maybe a chew…don’t go wild yet, he and you probably will need time to figure out what he really likes.
Correct food for Fido. If he doesn’t eat right away - don’t panic. It’s a big change and he may just need a day or so to adjust.
Yeah, Fido is coming home!
It’s the big day! If possible, it should be done on a weekend or when someone can be home for the first day or so to help show Fido the ropes and settle in.
Collecting from the shelter.
Bring Fido's collar/harness and lead with you and ask the staff to put it on before they bring him out.
Have a blanket in the car in case of accidents (remember he doesn’t know what is going on and could be a little scared). It's also helpful to have someone come with you to help reassure and keep him calm during the trip home.
Don’t forget to take his vet card with vaccine and microchip details home with you to put in a safe place! If he has just been neutered then he may be feeling a bit groggy and tender…so handle gently! Give Fido the space to relax and recover from the operation, this may take a few days.
You have another dog at home.
Although they have already met during compatibility, this is now your other dog’s home turf so it is well worth the effort to take this extra time. Do not bring Fido straight into the house. Have Fido and your other dog (both on leads) be re-introduced on a neutral ground such as on the road outside or a nearby park. You can start with walking one in front of the other and then swapping around, gradually letting them greet if their body behaviour is relaxed.
Once both dogs are more relaxed, take them back to the house STILL ON LEADS and walk them together through the entire house and garden. Again, if both dogs show signs of being relatively relaxed, you can let them off their leads. Here is where you have to keep a close eye, depending on whether Fido and your other dog run off happily to explore together or if Fido may be overwhelmed and seeks out a quiet place to think things over. You and the family need to give both dogs the space to settle in, watching out for any sign of a possible fight.
SIGNS OF TENSION in a dog are lip and nose licking, yawning, avoiding-looking the other way or physically trying to move away. If the dogs are displaying these signs do not force an interaction. Give them space to adjust to one another in their own time and pace. If you find one dog being a bit bolshy and getting in the other's face, either wanting to play or being too sniffy, then gently call this dog away and distract it. If this is happening, the other dog may give a quick snap. This is normal dog behaviour to say: “Hey, I am uncomfortable here. Give me space”. The other dog, if they have good manners, will understand and back off. It is when they don’t that, that you will need to gently intervene. If there are signs of increasing arousal or aggression, separate both dogs completely for an hour or more to let them calm down and then slowly bring them back together.
Show your new dog where their bed is and where the water and feeding bowls are. Feed the dogs at a decent distance apart, especially in the beginning, to make sure they are no flare-ups over food or treats.
Fido and the Family
In the first few days, your dog is going to be unsure and perhaps a little overwhelmed (think how you felt on the first day of a new school or job). So it is important not to overcrowd him and to give him the time and space to explore and start to feel comfortable. It’s important that if there are children in the house, they also understand this and that they do not try and rush to pet and hug him. Let Fido come to you instead of cornering him.
Definitely DO NOT invite all your friends around right away to meet him. We know you are excited, but let him get to know you and his new home before bringing in even more new things for him to adjust to.
For the first week, don’t take him to the park or out for walks. Rather play with him in the garden, building that bond between you. This is also the time to help him get used to his new name, don’t worry he will learn it!
Interacting and bonding with your dog
It is understandable that you would want to smother your new dog with love and attention. However, remember dogs are like humans, some are more outgoing, while others may be more reserved. Combined with being in another new environment, it can be overwhelming and your dog may not be ready for full on contact (although some dogs will be throwing
themselves at you). It’s all about reading the signals your dog is giving you and responding appropriately.
Allow your dog to wander around the home at his own pace. If there are areas you do not want him to access, keep the door shut or use baby gates.
Let your dog come to you. Sit on a couch or seat, as that is less intimidating than standing and gently call your dog over. If they are still a bit shy or nervous, toss some high value treats on the ground near you and eventually give treats from your hand. If you have other dogs, make sure they are not in the room to prevent any competition over resources.
Dogs generally do not like to be approached directly at the face or over/on their heads. Rather gently stroke the side of their head, a rub at the base of the ear is often welcomed, and slowly up and over their shoulders. Some dogs are hesitant at being touched on their lower back by their tail, so take the stroking slowly and build up to these areas.
To see if your dog is enjoying the interaction, after a few pets stop and see what they do. If they remain next to you or lean in, they are giving you the nod of approval to carry on. If they move away, then the interaction was enough for now. They are not rejecting you; they are just slowly getting used to you… so don’t take it personally.
In the early days especially, let your new dog know that you are entering his space. Do this by gently entering. Using a happy voice, say ‘Hi Fido’ when coming into his space, so as not to surprise him. Try not to approach him from behind without warning. Some dogs come with baggage and they don’t know yet that they are now in a safe and loving home. Children should NEVER be left alone with dogs unsupervised and must be taught the correct way to interact with the dog - no hugging, pulling their ears and tails, disturbing the dog when sleeping and definitely NOT sitting on or riding the dog.
Fido and Marking aka Toilet Training
Prepare yourself for house toilet accidents and possible cases of marking. The stress of the move and new environment can contribute to this, so instead of punishing Fido, help him to learn the correct toilet behaviour by:
Managing the environment in not giving him free-reign of the house when unsupervised.
Take him outside at regular intervals, especially on waking and after feeding.
If an accident has happened, clean the area thoroughly with Sunlight liquid or Biogen Classic. Don’t use a cleaner with ammonia as this is similar in smell to urea and can attract them back to the spot. To make extra sure the smell is gone, you can wipe the area with vodka or rubbing alcohol.
Be patient. Remember, Fido doesn’t understand the difference between your indoor tiles and the concrete floor of the enclosure where he used to be.
If an accident has happened DO NOT shout, smack or rub his nose in it. He doesn’t understand what he has done is wrong. Take a deep breath and remember - Ignore the Bad and Reward the Good!
Finally, it could happen that while you are super excited at having a new friend, your dog is hesitant to come to you and may even shy away. Don’t take it personally, they are just very nervous of a new environment and need some time to take it all in. By the end of the first week, they should be feeling a lot more comfortable and by the second week they should be feeling more settled in. Give them a bit of space and time and they will soon be settled and be a happy member of the family and will give you a thumbs up for doing such a good job!