Wednesday 22 April 2015

Rehoming a Rescue dog

We all see the photos of dogs - needing homes - or in  - council dog pounds (desperately needing rescue) - or the ones abroad who have spent most of their lives on the streets or lying old and broken in shelters - and we want to save them all.

In Rescues dogs are brought in - some as strays - others rehomed by members of the public and though a form is filled out by the previous family - not all give 'nothing but the truth' - some even put behavioural problems as the reason for rehoming - needing a reason to give their 'family pet' up - others - they have no time - or - the dog is old  - a new baby and the list goes on.  Most Rescues assess the dogs as best as they can but when we take on that dog - senior - unwanted puppy - and sign those 'adoption papers' we take on the responsibility - the care and the readjustment of that 'new family member'.

Imagine - just how that dog feels - either coming in from the streets (they must have had a family once) or being 'abandoned' by their family - then comes into a new 'temporary home' - new scents - new people - just beginning to trust - settle - and then we come along - and another journey - another new destination.
Scarey - stressful - a few accidents (even though they are toilet trained - not aggressive - and were very friendly when you first 'fell in dog love' at the animal center).

Being rehomed is stressful for any rescue dog - and it takes time and patience for them to feel safe and secure and also feel they are not YET again be 'moved on' - your dog is like an 'orphaned child' that has no
'sense of belonging' - and the initial settling in period could trigger conflicts with new owners early on if not properly understood and gently introduced into their new surroundings  and time for bonding and behaviour assessment.

When you first get your dog home - Do not overcrowd him - of course friends and relatives want to meet the new addition to the family - but not on the first day or even not for a few days - just let him or her settle in with you - and the immediate family - make sure doors and garden gates are secure (some dogs are great escape artists - thats how some of them got to be found as strays- or with street dogs from abroad their fear of the unknown makes them excellent  houdinis). Your new dog might have a pretty low social competence and hardly any confidence in #newsettings  and though you might have had a meet and greet with your other dog (s) at the centre - in your home environment the reality of being confined in a different setting  with lots of different sounds and people can be a whole different ball game - dont leave toys out or food - observe both your dogs behaviour and the new dog - watch their interactions - if the rescue has given you any advice please heed it - also most rescues in UK and from abroad send a qualified home checker to see you before you adopt - if you have other dogs they will meet them and give feedback to the rescue - some dogs are rehomed as 'the only pet' - and even if they are fine with other dogs in the park can not share their 'home' with other pets - even visiting ones especially on 'first days of being in the new home'.

One of the mistakes we can make - especially with initially shy or nervous dogs is to keep invading their space -  -" wanting to make up for the 'previous unknown life they have had'' or 'pressuring them to 'obey rules and setting boundaries - too soon - or they are not ready to 'take in' just yet. This not done on a gradual basis could make them regress and bring out a fear based defensive reaction not necessarily to you but other dogs or people

I have three rescue dogs - two from UK and one from Greece all females and all had their own stories to tell
and they are great dogs but it took time - and there were frustrations - they all have their individual traits  - and their trials and tribulations before their final forever home - were - unknown but their scars showed through.

The early phase of a rescue dog's rehabilitation can often be hard - tough on the owner - scary and unknown for the dog  - sometimes an adoptor can feel 'What am I doing wrong' 'Why does he not listen to me' 'I can not give up on him but .....'  'Do I give up' - As a home checker - I always say if you need help or just a little friendly boost or advice on any behavioural problem no matter how small contact your home checker or the rescue - take things gradually  - be realistic with your goals  placing less pressure on yourself and most importantly the 'rescue dog' you have  brought into your family because they deserved a chance of life.

If you feel you need a one on one training ask the rescue or your vet if they can recommend a good trainer - or a good recommendation from a friend - check if the trainer has full pet business insurance - ask their experience - and most trainers will be quite happy to give you a run down of what the assessment and training session will entail.