Settling a Rescue Dog

Rescuing a dog can be so easy or it can be a worrying time. Dogs end up in rescue for a hundred different reasons and the majority of those are not the dog’s fault. If you are looking towards rescuing a dog or already have a new best friend in your midst, read on.

Some dogs can wander into a new home, find their place and carry on like they have always lived there. Their behaviour can be perfect in no time at all. Other dogs struggle with change and take a few weeks to settle whilst some dogs (this is usually the minority) have been through traumatic life events which make them more unsettled for longer.

In The Beginning

Initially when you settle a rescue dog into your home it’s vital not to overcrowd the animal. It’s easy to want to be touching the new dog all of the time. Watching him, talking to him and wanting him to be happy and settled are all things we naturally tend to do when becoming the caretaker of a new dog.

All of the behaviours which we do to make a dog feel secure often have the opposite effect. This is because our body language often contradicts the body language of the dog. When we make eye contact to improve communication dogs do it as a challenge. Whilst we touch other people as reassurance, touching a dog can place an overload on his emotions and make him highly stressed.

Constantly watching and talking to a rescued dog will probably not reassure him and is far more likely to make him more insecure. Watch out for calming signals such as licking lips, yawning and looking away or even trying to hide. Calming signals are the dog’s way of saying he is unhappy. It’s important to adhere to his requests in this situation and leave him be for a while.

Unless he comes to you, the best thing to do is completely ignore the dog. This is more relevant if the dog is worried and scared. Always respond positively if he comes to you because he may be looking for reassurance but never force your attentions on him as he may just need some space to adapt.

As Time Goes By

As time goes by you will get to know your new dog properly. His or her personality will shine through and the period of unsettlement will vanish. Any poor experiences may stay in the dog’s mind, this s especially true if his previous life was particularly traumatic, but his confidence will grow and your relationship will blossom.

Settling a rescue dog in your home is one of the kindest things you can do. Imagine no-one wanting you and having nowhere to go? That’s how thousands of rescue dogs feel every day. You may not change the world by rescuing a dog but you will change the world for one.