Anxiety in rescue dogs

3 Essential Tips for Welcoming a Rescue Dog

“Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.” 
Karen Davison

If you’ve ever thought about getting a dog or are already a seasoned owner, you’ll know that choosing the perfect addition to your family is rarely easy. As well as thinking about the practicalities like affording the time and cost, knowing where to find your dog can be tricky. Globally, thousands of dogs are rehomed from rescue shelters every day. They’ve often they have had a tough time and could have suffered the loss of an owner, neglect or even abuse.  While dogs’ cognitive abilities aren’t as developed as ours, they certainly share our emotions of anxiety and fear, which can be triggered by change and uncertainty.

Finding themselves safely in a rescue shelter is their first step towards more happy tail wagging, but what happens when you bring your rescue dog home? How can you help them settle into their new environment?

1. Take it Slowly

Although you may be desperate to shower them with affection and play, they may find it overwhelming and show signs of fear or aggression.  Give your new friend a space they can retreat to when they need some alone time. Some breeds like the confines of a crate or basket, others not so much. You could give them a chew toy or something to snuggle up with and make sure they can see what what’s going on around them. Try things out until your dog seems content and then respect their space. 

2 .Stick to a Routine

Anxiety in dogs can be tempered by helping them know what to expect. Try to give them their food at the same time and in the same way each day. Knowing you have guaranteed meals in the pipeline is enough to curb anyone’s anxiety, right? Train them to be respectful at mealtimes too. We have manners round here.  Sit. Wait. Now eat. Keep your distance until they’ve polished off the last morsel so they can enjoy their meal in peace.

3. Be Patient

The bond between dogs and humans is one of mutual joy. Like any lasting friendship, it will take time to develop.  In your first months together, let your rescue dog take the lead and approach you for strokes and nuzzles. Try to resist the urge to pick up and cuddle until you’re sure it will be well received. Dogs’ tolerance for affection varies as much as humans’,  so adapt your behaviour to suit their temperament. Before long, you’ll be woven into each other’s affections for life.

Rescuing a dog from an uncertain future and helping ease their anxiety takes plenty of love, respect and time.  Lay the foundations carefully for a rock solid relationship. It is so worth it. Everyone loves a happy ending.