Many rescued dogs have been sequestered in crates and limited to one environment their entire life. It will be important to expose this type of dog to new things very slowly and methodically. You will find that many of these dogs are fearful of a host of novelties, including, but not limited to, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, skateboards, vacuum cleaners, etc. Let’s assume you have a dog that is fearful of the vacuum cleaner either runs to hide under the bed each time it is brought out, or attacks the vacuum as soon as it is turned on.
It is important to know that when introducing the rescue dog to other canines in the family, the introductions should be done outside. This will bring down the threat level of the dogs and eliminate territorial issues that may crop up in the beginning. You will always want two handlers; one for the rescue, and one for the other dog. As with the introductions to people, it is best to have the dogs on leash so that you can control their movement. Remember, however, that a leashed dog will feel more threatened because it is unable to get away and knows it. Therefore, the process of introductions will take longer and involve more steps when involving other dogs in the house.
It is critical to understand that dogs are not capable of generalized learning. Each new person or dog or object they encounter is a completely new experience. So, to properly socialize a new rescue dog you must expose her to a broad range of social experiences. A quiet teenager is much different for a dog than an exuberant infant or an active toddler, or an energetic five or six-year old child. . . .Even things like height, facial hair, apparel, (hats, sunglasses, different types of shoes, etc.) will be unique, and potentially fraught with anxiety for your new family member. Take the time you need to safely expose the dog or pup to all of these novelties.
Let’s first discuss the process of introducing your new rescue dog to the human adults in the household. It’s important to take the proper steps to start exposing your new rescue dog safely. Instruct people who are new to your dog to show her the proper respect by averting their eyes when first meeting. Giving a fearful dog direct eye contact can be perceived as threatening and promote more fear. Second, it is always best to have the dog on a leash so you can control his movement. However, keep in mind that a leashed dog will feel more threatened, because it is unable to get away and knows it. As a result it will be better to have your guest actually ignore the dog for the first few minutes.
There are many things we learn as professional dog trainers, but one of the most important, and one we share on a regular basis with clients, is how to safely bring home a rescue dog. Many of the dogs on the Suncoast have been adopted from rescue organizations, or are currently in foster homes waiting for their forever family. Whether introducing the new dog to a foster family, or to his forever home, it is important to follow certain, carefully planned out steps, to make a smooth transition.