Here are some tips on how to introduce a rescue dog to your home.
Just over a year ago I adopted a sad looking boxer x staffy from the RSPCA. I knew nothing about her background other than she was 'shy.' I adopted her because I thought nobody else would adopt her. She sat at the back of the cage not making eye contact, and did not approach - unlike the other dogs who bounced around wanting attention.
I sat with my dog, Zali, for a long time at her cage until she approached me, gave me a lick on the arm, and leaned into me. I took her for a walk around the RSPCA grounds, and spent the afternoon with her, and, of course, I fell for her!
From that day until today, and probably into the future, there have been countless smiles, laughs, and small challenges.
A dog needs direction.
A dog needs a leader. She needs direction, rules and stability. I did not know this when I first adopted Zali. But I've learnt it through the past year.
Here are some hints on how to introduce a rescue dog into your life:
1. Buy the right equipment
Don't take any risks. Don't be relaxed about this. I bought a harness for Zali for when we go for walks or to a café etc. As well as the harness, she also wears a regular collar which has her name and my phone number.
Never assume that your dog will not have a scare and run. Zali hasn't, but I have known of other dogs who have. You must always be aware of your dogs' safety.
2. Experiment with chew toys.
I bought fun fluffy and plastic squeaky toys. None of those are suitable because Zali chews through them too fast. She doesn't eat the pieces, but it just isn't economical.
Get to know your dog and their behaviours. Through much experimentation, I have found that the giant marrow bones are Zali's favourite, and they last for a long time; as well as deer antlers - although they cost a lot, so I don't buy them often.
This is the hard one.
It's important your dog learns a few tricks that will allow you to regain your dogs focus in a time of high excitement. Ideally, you will learn to read when your dog is becoming excited, and prevent it from escalating. Here are the tricks I fall back on when Zali is getting too excited. They are easy tricks and second nature to her now:
At dinner time have your dog Sit, then Wait, until you then say 'ok' (or choose your own word), for her to start eating. This sets up the expectation that you are the leader.
If your dog starts doing something you don't want them to; for instance jumping up at you for attention - don't yell at her, because you are then giving her attention!
Tell her to Sit, Wait, Bed.
Bed is the dog's bed, not yours.
Bed is a safe place for your dog; it's where she'll sleep in the evening or during the day. It's where she'll take her favourite toy. It's where you'll send her if she's too excited.
Sit, Wait, Bed, like I mentioned, are my go to rules to control Zali before she gets too excited, or to bring down her level of excitement. These commands have made a massive improvement to how Zali behaves. Especially Bed.
When I first adopted Zali, she wanted to play 24/7. Once I taught her the Bed command she gradually started to venture off and amuse herself, finding a toy to play with etc.
Adopting Zali is one of the best decisions I've made. She can be a handful sometimes, but that is because in that moment I am not being a good leader.
If you have any difficulties with your dog, it is not your dogs' fault, it's yours. Dog owners don't like to be told this, but, tough!
Always remember that your dog needs a leader, but not a dictator.