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SOCIALIZING YOUR RESCUE DOG
Suggestions for adopting a second hand dog

Whether your new dog is a rescue with an unknown history, or a re-homed dog who came from a loving family, the important thing is to make haste slowly.

It will pay off for you to take it easy on everything. If you are introducing the new dog to an existing pack, take a couple of days for everyone to calm down before you leave them alone together, or indeed, even expect them to hang out calmly in the same area. Play “Jolly Dog” every time you see the dogs sniffing under the door or standing near the fence or baby gate calmly looking at the other dog, praise like crazy and give a few treats to each dog. When you are ready to introduce them, insist that the dogs make eye contact with the person holding the respective leashes before you give them permission to go and socialize. If the dogs are not calm at the gate or fence, or refuse to make eye contact with the human holding the leash, get professional help immediately.

Use much the same procedure for introducing the dog to new children! Dog should be on leash, children should not be allowed to mug and molest the new dog, no matter how excited they are. Insist that the dog make eye contact with the person holding the leash, and pet quietly, one at a time, as a reward for showing that trust. Have the dog earn those treats and petting by sitting. Free food and petting on demand are what we feel like doing for the dog, but it’s not in the best interest of your family structure.

Take your time on everything! It’s a common human trait to overreact and try to give the new dog everything it was missing in its’ life, all at once. For the dog, this is bewildering and can lead to severe separation anxiety. It’s far better to make lots of rules and stay very consistent in your treatment of the dog. You can always give privileges as the dog earns them. Start out by using a dog crate and keep the dog there at first, not only when you are gone but also when you are home. The dog does not get to come out of the crate until it is quiet and you have time to supervise. Try tethering the dog and keeping it on leash with you for the first several weeks. After all, you don’t know what kind of experiences your new dog has had in the house, or indeed, if it has even been in the house. Tethering and staying on leash around the house is very important to avoid “marking” behavior. Even a girl dog will urinate on things to mark them for her own. If your boy dog has recently been neutered, it can take up to six weeks for the testosterone to leach out of the body, so that urge to mark might be present for a long time. It’s always a good idea to prevent a problem, rather than just trying to correct it.

It will help if you feed the dog in the crate, but don’t expect it to eat well for a few days. Don’t bribe or add extra goodies to the food, and PLEASE only leave the food down for 10-15 minutes. This seems harsh, but it will get your relationship off on the right foot…being the provider of the food makes you a very powerful person in the dog’s life. If you know the kind of food the dog has been eating, get some, and if you feel like changing the food, do it slowly to avoid digestive upsets.

E-Mail: clcjmy@comcast.net