Adopting a rescue dog is a noble act and can be one of the most rewarding things you ever do in life. Rescue dogs come in all breeds, ages and stages of life. And often, the history of a rescue dog is unknown. They may have been born in the wild, they may have been abandoned, they may have been abused, etc. Bonding with a rescue puppy may be relatively easy, but bonding with other rescue dogs can pose a number of challenges. Nevertheless, bonding with a rescue dog is not impossible – it is very achievable – and you can make a best friend for life!
When you first bring your rescue dog home he may be nervous about his new surroundings and new people. Start slow, allow your dog to explore its new surroundings and show him where his food and water are, as well as how to get outside for potty breaks. If you do not know the history of your dog or know he has possibly been abused or neglected in the past and may have aggression, take petting slowly. First, say your dog’s name so that you have their attention. Offer your hand so that they can sniff it and get used to you. Once they see that you are not being aggressive or abusive, your dog may allow you to gently and slowly rub or pat them. Don’t start with the top of their head but, rather, pat their back, side or belly if they offer it. Once you have established that you are trustworthy and not abusive and your dog seems relaxed you may be able to move to their head. Pay close attention to your dog’s reaction and body language, particularly during these first few encounters and if your dog seems agitated, aggressive, or unhappy, take a break from petting and try again at a later time.
During the first few days and weeks it is ideal to bring your rescue dog with you wherever you go. This will help establish that you are trustworthy, dependable and a constant positive fixture in their life. They will learn that they can rely on you and slowly but surely your bond will be established. Additionally, play with your dog in a fun and non-aggressive way. Take them on walks, take them in the yard or to a dog park and play fetch with them and use a happy voice with a smile so that it is a positive experience for them. It is important to understand that initial bonding may be quick but it also may take time depending on your dog’s history. With consistency, time, and affection your rescue dog will adapt to his new surroundings and happy new life!