Many people rehome dogs. This is such a brilliant thing to do, puppies are often indescriminately bred and many dogs need homes for myriad reasons. Rescue dogs are loving and can fit in as well as any puppy given the time and opportunity.
So what are the golden rules during the first few weeks? How should you go about settling a new hound into your house?
The best way of answering this is to try and put it into human terms. Imagine that you are invited to a friends home for dinner, you don’t know the couple well and feel a bit compromised but nevertheless despite a few reservations you agree to join them for dinner. So what would be your reaction if you were told exactly where to sit, when to eat and when you could visit the loo. I am betting you wouldn’t feel very welcome, and I am thinking that you would not repeat the experience.
Dominance theories still abound even in this modern day and age-despite the amount of evidence available. Dogs do not want to take over your home, that they do not need abrasive and brusque handling. Many people and unfortunately some trainers are still quick to dispatch incorrect information, and can make a dogs first days uncomfortable and even distressing.
Dogs need lots of things, but first of all when being rehomed they need understanding. They are often stressed and have trouble learning new things in this condition, as we all are. They need to be able to trust the new people they live with and need to absorb the rules of the house-and while they are doing this they need peace and quiet, and the chance to explore. Please do give them a chance to get this.
I regularly go to a greyhound rehoming kennels and one of the most frequent reasons for returning greyhounds is that have snarled or growled when they are woken up.
Greyhounds in particular have often lived in kennels all of their lives, they also often share a kennel with another dog-this means that they often don’t sleep well as space is limited. They very rarely have the space to stretch out and sleep as they should be able to. If a dog cannot sleep stretched out he will not get proper REM sleep, and rest is essential if they are to function properly in day to day life. The other factor here is that greyhounds often grumble and growl at each other when they disturb each other-it just becomes a habit. So when they go home, sleep should be undisturbed-and without the notion that humans should sit down next to or disturb them. If this does happen the reaction they have practised since they were young are repeated – they are liable to snap or growl. This is not an aggression problem, full stop.#
Actually all dogs should be allowed to relax and sleep without being disturbed and receive the respect they need when asleep, but this becomes more immediate on rehoming what is not needed arepeople over reacting and returning them to kennels.
Comfort is another factor, and large comfy beds is (a) quiet place/s are essential-the more rest your new dog gets the better he can learn to live with his new family.
Food is another factor in a dogs introduction into his new home,the effects it can have on both behaviour and the uptake of a new life cannot be underestimated. Good food can help a dog to settle, prevent hunger and problems with digestion and basic facts at your fingertips are important. You do not have to be a canine nutrionist to read a label and to monitor the dogs response to food. Avoid colourings in kibble, as they can cause behavioral problems such as over stimulation and if colour is added it is an indication that additives and preservatives have been added unneccesarily. Many dogs do well on raw food but this is in no way essential but find a food that your dog likes and split it into 2 meals so that he always has something to look forward to during the day-this also helps with any house training that you need to undertake.
Building confidence is a big part of a dogs first few days in a new home. To do this allow your dog to explore both his/her new home and his new environment. Take him on introductory walks in the nearby countryside and show him his new life. It makes a super introduction and is a good stress reduction technique.
Rules should be kept to a minimum for the same reasons.
Remember the above scenario of the dinner party, reams of rules just causes confusion and are stressful. The gradual teaching of life skills is a brilliant thing,which should be undertaken with time and patience remember discipline is for humans!
Take things slowly and do not assume that a new dog is about to take your home apart one brick at a time! Find some nice diversions in the way of toys like kongs and mentally stimulating chew toys that he can settle down with.
This is not a definitive list of what is needed when rehoming a new dog and it will regularly added to as time goes on, but my main message is to take things step by step when you adopt a new dog-and teach him to enjoy his new life and make your aim to build a bond, he/she will thank you for it. I guarantee it!
If you require any help with rehoming a dog or what to expect during the first few weeks please do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org