6 Ways to Help Your Rescue Dog Acclimate to Their New Home

by | Dog Care |

photo of marley

Are you thinking of adopting a dog from a shelter? If so, there are some things that need to be taken into consideration to ensure your new fur baby acclimates well to their new home:

  1. Start with teaching the dog a couple of simple commands like “sit” or “down.” This early interaction helps to create and strengthen the human-animal bond and helps your relationship with your dog to grow.
  2. Be patient – encourage the dog to come to you rather than you always going up to the dog to interact with them. Understand that although the dog may be new to you, he already has a complex personality. It can be very rewarding to figure out what the dog likes and dislikes and this really helps to build on your friendship with your new pet.
  3. Be consistent. Make sure that every person, everyday and every time is giving the dog the same message. Dogs like rules as they help the dog to better understand their new home and family. A dog that has figured out the rules can relax and it helps to build the dog’s confidence.
  4. Set long term goals and not short term “fixes.” It will take a bit of time to get the dog to understand some things, but once they “get it” they’ll likely never forget it. Besides, your new friend is going to be with you for some years, so it’s worth it to both of you to put in the work now.
  5. Use “Anxiety Busters” such as food puzzles, problem-solving toys, nature shows and DVDs for your new dog to watch while you’re away. This is especially important if you are going to be away for several hours – dogs are bright and they need mental stimulation. Using a store bought food puzzle that slowly dispenses some of their daily dry food gives the dog a project to work on while you’re away. You can also make some puzzles for the dog out of common household items.  For more tips, visit the ASPCA’s fact sheet on Enriching Your Dog’s Life.
  6. Always use positive reinforcement to train your dog. Dogs that are stressed or anxious do not learn well. They need to be calm and focused to really interact with you and learn what you’re trying to teach them. Remember – when you’re teaching the dog a lesson, a trick or a specific behaviour, about half of the actual learning is you figuring out how best to interact with your new family member.

Following these simple tips can ensure that your new rescue dog not only acclimates well to their new home, but also becomes your lifelong furry best friend.

To find an adoptable dog in your area, visit our Community Directory to find your closest Ontario SPCA Branch or Affiliate.