The Rescue Dog's Transition
So you’ve decided to do a great thing and rescue that dog that has been returned back to the shelter on more than one occasion. How do you introduce this guy to his new environment, dog-brothers and sisters, and home dynamic? Very delicately.
Most families hold on to the back story of abuse or neglect and coddle, baby, and over spoil their new rescue not realizing this will fuel those problematic behaviors he was surrendered for originally. Doting on an overly aroused, pushy, reactive dog will only get you more of the same. Additionally, if you currently have a couple of dogs within the household, there already is a hierarchy set amongst them. A new dog will disrupt this if not given proper guidance and structure while advocating for the current dynamic.
Routine and rigorous structure are of utmost importance for no less than the first month in the new home. Dog privileges, couch time, affection, play, must be earned through good, consistent behavior. Routine needs to be established so the new member of your pack isn’t left guessing or filling in the blanks where you haven’t communicated your intent.
EVERYTHING should be scheduled and controlled from the minute you wake up to when you lay back down. At no time should the new dog be able to make decisions or choices on his own regarding ANYTHING. No free-roaming. He should always be kept in command, in either a Down, or Place. Practice massive amounts of Permission Based Training (Waiting for Food, Thresholds, Crate Manners, Controlled Heal, Place Duration). Crate your dogs when you are unable to fully attend to their business. No free roaming should be allowed. Play time is left for the outdoors in a controlled setting while advocating for each and every dog.
Only when you get consistent, AMAZING behavior, all of the time, should you start doling out rewards strategically: affection, play time, free-roam. If any regression toward bad choices occurs, dial back the amount of freedom.
This type of intiial structure is far more important for your new dog's state of mind than your cozy bed, treats, hugs and kisses, and endless toys could ever be when transitioning into his new home.