Rehomed dogs – Expectations and Reality

Everyone knows that worldwide there are millions of dogs in the most awful predicament.  The lucky ones are rescued, rehabilitated and await homes in shelters – so, why not be

Rehoming a rescue dog can be extremely rewarding

Rehoming a rescue dog can be extremely rewarding

their saviour?  Rehoming a dog is a richly rewarding experience for both parties, but there is a caveat – know what you are in for and be prepared.  If you are not, this is to the detriment of the dog of course and you.

Can you do this?

Seriously, question this! The majority of people want to help and not many (right minded) people can walk past those faces in the shelter without a twang on the heart strings. If you’re to successfully rehome a dog though, you need to seriously sit down and consider whether you have the experience, know-how, time commitment, emotional resolve and possibly financial input to help your new family member.  You might be shelling out for behavioural assistance, training, vet fees and peripheral services such as walkers plus your new one may need much of your time.

Be aware that what you’re told, may not be the whole truth!

I know, scandalous! Most larger shelters are excellent when it comes to rehabilitating dogs.  They take time to behaviourally assess them, see what they are like with other dogs, children, other animals, how they are in a home environment, when left etc. They can give you this info.  There can be occasions however when a shelter simply (though well meaning) has too many dogs and needs to rehome before the next dog comes in.  In these cases, the info may be sketchy or not completely true.  I have been in contact with so many rehomed dogs who’ve been placed in new homes, supposedly house trained and they clearly are not, leading to them being returned – sad.  Which leads me onto…

He may not yet be house trained

Yes do not expect this.  Can you take the time to train this skill?  It may take a little longer with an older dog who may have never established the behaviour or who may have always been kennel raised, roamed the streets etc.  If you’re extremely house proud, remember there will be accidents and your new dog will not ‘get it’ straight away.

He will take time to settle

Most rehomed dogs need time. They may be emotionally stressed by aversive experiences that have occurred prior to you rehoming them or they may simply have spent a long time in kennels.  Don’t expect them to simply slot into a busy, lively family life.  Your dog may display a few ‘peculiar’ behaviours in the first few weeks, he may not want to engage with you, he may bark a lot, he may not like being left.  He is likely stressed and just needs quiet time and calm.  You may need to see qualified behavioural advice if issues persist.

Try not to overcompensate

This is normal human behaviour.  Try not to go over the top for defecits your dog may have experienced in previous homes.  Don’t go overboard on showering him with crazy gifts, fawning over him just because he never had any of that stuff before.  We all love our dogs, but smothering him will overwhelm him and could pose issues later on.  By all means buy him lovely things (that’s why we have dogs!), but try not to go nuts!

Don’t compare dogs

This is so easy to say & not do.  If you have had a dog before, especially one recently lost, try not to compare the two.  Understand that your new dog (never a replacement of course) is here in his own right, he has his own thoughts, his funny ways, little quirks and that’s ‘him’.

Give yourself time

I think this is one of the most important things I can say.  Rehomed dogs need time – with you, them and you, together.  Also, they are individuals.  You will receive advice from people around you, how they did things with ‘their Fido’ etc.  The clue here is that it’s THEIR dog, you have yours.  Advice is great, but it must be tailored to the individual, so keep working with, listening to your own dog and doing things your way and you’ll have a great life together!

About Anna Francesca Bradley

Anna Francesca Bradley MSc BSc (Hons) is a UK based Provisional Clinical and Animal Behaviour and Training Council, Accredited Animal Behaviourist. Anna owns Perfect Pawz! Training and Behaviour Practice www.perfectpawz.co.uk in Hexham, Northumberland UK, where the aim is always to create and restore happy relationships between dog and owner in a relaxed way and using methods based upon sound scientific principles which are always force free and fun.
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