Assisi Animal Sanctuary is Northern Ireland's largest independent animal welfare charity providing shelter for up to 200 companion animals - cats, dogs and rabbits.
Charity Reference No: NIC104594.
Bringing a new dog home from a Sanctuary isn’t just as simple as giving it ‘extra’ love and a comfy bed at night, it is much, much more than this. Rescue dogs can be challenging, quite often they have come from bad situations and are bringing their own baggage from past experiences into their new homes. Some dogs settle in to their new homes straight away while others take a bit longer, they may throw various behavioural problems at you and leave you at your wits end. It is always better to expect the worst, this makes it easier to deal with the problems as they crop up. Ask for help too, you haven’t failed the dog if you have to ask for a bit of guidance.
Do not expect the dog to be grateful. They don’t understand that we have rescued them.
If your dog recently passed away don’t expect your new dog to behave in the same way your previous dog did. They are as individual as we are. It is usually best to go for a different sort of dog.
If you are having personal problems or are harbouring emotional issues for any reason don’t take on a dog who also has ‘baggage’. It will be no good for either of you and could make a difficult situation worse.
Be prepared to work hard. Research dog behaviour, look into training classes and local socialisation classes and have time set aside for attending these when you bring your new dog home.
Treat your new dog like he doesn’t know anything and begin as you mean to go on. Having a good routine is key as it helps increase the feeling of security and will allow the dog to settle in quicker. Don’t be harsh but boundaries do need to be set from the very start, it is much easier to relax the rules than to get tough when things get out of control. To start with keep the dog in just one or two rooms, preferably the room with access to the garden for toileting. Many dogs will not be house trained so being close to the garden will help with this training, most dogs catch on within a couple of days of reward based training.
Be aware of the ‘settling in period’ where the dog may appear to be very well behaved, it could be that it is unsure and is not yet confident enough to try and test the boundaries. After a few weeks you may see a change in the dog and it may begin to test the boundaries, not every dog will do this, but it is something to be aware of. With careful guidance those that test the boundaries should quickly settle down again.
During the first few weeks keep everything as low-key as possible, try not to fuss over the dog too much, don’t shower him with excessive attention and love and make sure any visitors do as you ask. If there is too much going on this can confuse the dog and put too much pressure on him which can lead to anxiety issues. The aim of keeping everything calm with a consistent routine is to make him feel comfortable with what is going on and develop greater emotional independence.
As your dog settles in over the coming weeks your bond will grow stronger as you experience new things together. Your dog will look to you for guidance and support, reassure him when he needs it and show him the right way. Overcome the problems as they crop up and enjoy the experience. The end result is very rewarding.