What to Expect from a Rescue Dog
Your new dog may have been abandoned, found as a stray, surrendered by a previous family, abused or neglected, or from a puppymill. The dog had to adjust to life at a foster home and is now going home to a new, unfamiliar place with strangers. Kind of scary if you think about it!
Being gentle, considerate, kind and patient will help ease your new dog into his/her new life with you. Some rescue dogs may be very friendly at first while others may be reserved until they get to know you. Let the dog come to you – don't force him/her to do anything until you better understand his/her personality and behaviors.
No dog is going to be "perfect" and due to their past history, rescued dogs may require special consideration. Rescue dogs have a higher chance of being very reserved or submissive at first due to their past history, but then tend to "come out of their shell" within 1-2 weeks. Don't feed pets in the same room together until they are showing no aggression or jealousy at mealtime. A dog that has been starved, or forced to give up food to other dogs in the past, may be very protective of the food you give it.
*WHERE AM I? * Your dog might be afraid and unsure of his new surroundings. If he appears to be scared, keep him in a small, quiet area to start, and take it slow. Don't allow children to bother the dog if he is afraid; fear can result in nipping. Instead, give your dog plenty of time to adjust to his new surroundings, taking it one step at a time. Don't give up! Don't leave your other pets or small children unsupervised with the new dog until they are used to each other.
*OOPS! I'M SORRY * Even a potty trained dog can make mistakes in a new home! Expect this to happen. He doesn't know which door to go to or how to ask his new family what he wants. Keep a very watchful eye on your new friend and *confine him when you can't watch him*. The worst thing you can do is to physically reprimand a dog. This teaches the dog that he must go someplace you can't see him to eliminate. A firm "no" when you catch him in the act and placing him outside or on papers will teach him where it is appropriate to go. Some experts say not to place the dog exactly where you want him to go when you take him outside, but nearby and calling it over to that place. *The main thing is to reward good behavior and use firm verbal cues for bad behavior.
*It is not advised that you let the new member of your household free reign of the house when you are away for long periods of time. Use crate training as a positive way to confine your new dog for short periods of time.
*NEW RULES * Your new dog had a whole different set of rules in his previous home. He may have been allowed to sleep in bed or beg at the table. It's up to you to teach him your rules. Teaching proper behavior takes time and patience.
*ADJUSTMENT PERIOD * Allow several weeks to adapt to his new surroundings and up to four months to fully adjust (older dogs may take longer than young ones). Adopting a pet is a lifetime commitment. We assume that you will make a patient and concerted effort to achieve a successful placement. Sometimes rescued dogs may exhibit behavioral problems that could include house soiling, destructive behavior, mild aggression toward other pets or humans, submissive urination, clinging behavior, licking behavior, and hiding or cowering in bed. All rescued dogs will exhibit some behavior when entering a new home. Most of the time, bad behavior is of very short duration as the animal becomes used to its new surroundings. SGF and/or your dog's foster parent will advise you regarding any behaviors that have been observed while the animal was in foster care.
These are some of the situations you may possibly run in to with your rescued dog. For the majority of adopters, however, after an initial few days of adjustment they find that they have adopted a truly wonderful little dog that wants nothing more than the touch of your hand, the sound of your voice, and the love of your heart.