Tips to Help Welcome Your Rescue Dog Home

4. Introduce Your Pup to Other Pets Slowly

If you have another pet at home, you'll want to introduce your new dog to him slowly. “You want to avoid the situation where you bring the new dog in to the house and the other pet is just right there,” says Mikkel Becker.

It’s ideal if your new dog can meet existing dogs on neutral territory, like the street or sidewalk, where they can go for a walk together, says Dr. Becker. “Don’t make the first greeting in a place with tension.”

Mikkel Becker also recommends letting your existing pet have a positive interaction around the new dog, like getting a treat while your new dog is on the other side of a baby gate.

When introducing an existing cat to a new dog, Dr. Becker suggests keeping your dog on a long leash at first so he learns to respect the cat’s space. With dogs, you can help them create a positive association with each other by feeding your dogs with one of them on each side of a door and giving them a “really high-value, tasty meal” and switching bowls halfway through so they associate each other with good things.

5. Bond With Your New Family Member

Foster a bond with your dog by engaging in rewarding activities, creating consistency and respecting your dog’s boundaries. Make it a point to learn what your dog finds rewarding, suggests Ebbecke. For instance, maybe he likes to play fetch, prefers chicken treats over beef treats or likes walks or car rides. “Then engage in or use the things that the dog seems to enjoy and the dog will associate these great things with their new family.”

Teaching your dog basic cues can also help strengthen your bond and helps establish a line of communication, Dr. Sung says. Taking a training class can help build his confidence as well as reinforce listening to you, which can help improve your relationship.

Not all rescue dogs are skittish, but for those who are, Mikkel Becker says to “make yourself really positive.” Consider coaxing your dog toward you instead of approaching him, by holding a treat in one hand and letting the dog initiate the interaction. “Giving them a choice can significantly increase their confidence."

And don't forget to listen to what your dog is telling you about what he’s comfortable or uncomfortable with, Ebbecke says. Watch his body language and if he appears uncomfortable with something, stop and think about how you can make things less scary for him.

“Remember, this initial phase is about getting to know one another,” Ebbecke says. “If your dog is telling you they’re scared of something, think about why that might be and help them to feel more comfortable, maybe by pairing it with a tasty treat or finding an alternative solution.”

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