BRINGING HOME YOUR NEW DOG
Congratulations on adopting your new rescue! It is our hope that your dog settles in well and over the coming days, weeks, months and years, becomes a well-loved part of your family.
Don’t let go of the leash until you are safely inside the house with all doors closed! Keep in mind that everything will be new – sights, sounds, smells, everything! Regardless of your dog’s personality, it will take some time to for him or her to adjust. If your dog seems unphased by the whole ordeal, feel free to unclip the leash and give your dog an opportunity to explore his new home!
If your dog is showing any signs of fear or anxiety LEAVE THE LEASH ON! (In other words, DO NOT unclip the leash and let your dog explore on her own). Use the leash to guide your dog around a limited area of your house. Having the dog follow you on the tour with lots of stops for sniffing will help your dog to relax and give your dog an opportunity to start feeling safe in his/her new environment. TIP: Tie the leash around your waist and have your dog follow you as you move throughout your daily routine. An anxious dog needs leadership and guidance, and needs to know that he or she is safe with you. Tying the leash around your waist and having your dog follow you for the first few days (or longer) is a fantastic way to help establish you as the leader and help create a bond of trust.
ESTABLISH YOURSELF AS A CALM, CONFIDENT LEADER RIGHT AWAY!
A calm, confident approach is best with all dogs but especially your new rescue dog! If your dog is showing any signs of fear and/or anxiety (ie tail between legs, skittish movements, nervousness, etc.) do NOT smother your dog with affection. It is very important that you don’t to reward or reinforce nervous behavior. Instead, stand up tall, put your shoulders back and take a deep breath! Stay calm and relaxed. This is a crucial time when your dog needs guidance and reassurance and he/she will be looking to you for cues. If you are scared and anxious, your dog will be scared and anxious. If you are calm and relaxed, your dog will be calm and relaxed.
KEEP STRESS TO A MINIMUM
Keep in mind your new dog has just landed from another planet! Please do not rush having them meet friends or family members, taking them to the vet or even going for a walk. Allow them to settle in and get used to you and their new life before adding any other changes.
FINALIZE YOUR ADOPTION AFTER 14 DAYS
Our goal is to give your dog the best possible home we can so please, let us know right away if you require any assistance or are having any reservations about the adoption. It is your responsibility to contact us if you have any concerns. If we don’t hear from you after 14 days we will assume the decision to keep the dog has been made and the balance of your adoption fee will be processed. Do keep in mind that there will be an adjustment period for both you and your dog, and sometimes waiting a good week or ten days until your dog has a chance to settle down can help with making a final decision one way or the other. If there is no possibility of the adoption working out we will ALWAYS find another home for the dog.
TAKE YOUR DOG TO THE VET FOR A CHECK UP
In your adoption package you will receive an Adoption Certificate that entitles you to a free vet visit within 21 days of adoption. There are approximately 18 VCA Vet Clinics throughout BC with two locations in the Lower Mainland. You can find the location nearest you at vcacanada.com. If you are unable to take advantage of the free check up, the first vet visit will be at your expense. If any issues are discovered during the vet visit, please let us know right away. To use the VCR certificate you will need to let them know you are using the certificate when you call to book. Make sure to print it off, fill it out and bring a copy of your adoption contract with you to confirm the adoption and date.
REGISTER YOUR DOG’S MICROCHIP
Once you have decided to keep your dog, we will finalize the adoption and send you an email explaining how to register your dog’s microchip. (The chip number is included in your adoption papers.) Once a dog is entered into the microchip registry your name and contact information is linked to that chip number so that, in the event your dog is lost or stolen, you can be notified.
JOIN OUR FB ADOPTERS GROUP!
If you are on Facebook, make sure to join our Adopter’s Group! There you will be able to share your experience and connect with others about theirs.
KEEP US POSTED!
Please keep us updated as to how things are going! Send pictures! Write stories! We share updates with the folks at the shelter where your dog originated from. It is so rewarding for our hard-working compatriots to see a dog that they rescued now safe and well-loved in Canada!
LIVING WITH YOUR NEW DOG
KEEPING YOUR DOG LEASHED (INDOORS)
Keep the leash attached to your new dog even while inside the house at least for the first few days. Street dogs may not be used to a leash so will need time to get familiar with the feel of it. Plus it gives you something to grab onto if they try to bolt out the door!
KEEPING YOUR DOG LEASHED (TO YOU)
If your dog is showing ANY signs of fear or anxiety (or even if they aren’t) tie the leash around your waist and have your dog follow you as you move throughout your daily routine. This is so important! An anxious dog needs leadership and guidance, and needs to know that he or she is safe with you. Tying the leash around your waist and having your dog follow you for the first few days (or longer) is a fantastic way to help establish you as the leader and help create a bond of trust.
Many dogs find being bathed stressful. Your new dog has been highly stressed coming to Canada so unless your dog is dirty, please forgo bathing them until they have settled and are relaxed. Brushing on the other hand, is very soothing and can get your dog almost as clean as a bath does.
KEEPING EXTERIOR DOORS CLOSED
Use caution when opening any outside exit door to your home. Make certain you know exactly where your dog is and ensure there is no possibility of escape. Some street dogs are programmed to escape to open areas when the opportunity presents itself – even if there is no imminent threat so use caution. Better to be safe than sorry.
KEEPING YOUR DOG LEASHED (OUTDOORS)
Since many rescue dogs are used to roaming free, your dog must be kept on a leash until you’re confident he or she won’t bolt. Even if your dog appears calm, a sudden, loud noise could frighten your dog enough to scale a 6-foot fence in order to get away (we’ve seen it happen!) So please, keep the leash on and DO NOT leave your new dog alone outside even if you have a fenced yard.
USING A LONG LINE IN THE YARD
You may want to replace your regular walking leash with a long line while outside. This will allow you to let your dog explore a bit further away from you while still giving you access to your dog if necessary. A long line can also be used as a recall training aid to assist with getting your dog to come when called: call your dog’s name, draw the line towards you, reward with treats, pats and praise when your dog reaches you.
WALKING ON LEASH
Many of our dogs have never been walked on a leash before let alone in a heel! Begin by standing outside your property with your dog leashed at your side. Remain still as he accustoms himself to the surrounding sights and sounds. Then, once he seems comfortable, start walking! Remember to stand tall with shoulders back and take lots of deep breaths to relax. You’ll look and feel more confident and as a result, your dog will feel more confident too.
GETTING IN & OUT OF CARS
Again keep the leash on your dog as they get into and out of your car. Spend time training your dog to stay in the car even with the door open. This is an important safety consideration since the last thing you want is to open the car door to put your groceries in and your dog goes flying out into the parking lot or worse, across a busy street. TRAINING TIP: Train car-staying in a safe area. Hold onto the leash and slowly open the car door while blocking the doorway with your body. Use a stop command such as “wait” or “stay” and slowly back away. If your dog makes a forward movement, quickly take a step forward to block the exit. Then try again. When you want your dog to come out of the car, use a release command such as “OK” or “come” together with a gentle tug on the leash. Make sure to praise and reward! Repeat this as often as you can backing further away each time until you are able to back completely away from the vehicle and your dog will remain in the car until you give the release command. A well trained dog is a safe dog!
LIVING IN A HOUSE
Since most of our dogs have never been in a home before, everything from your furniture to the noise of your dishwasher will be alien to them. Dogs often feel threatened by eye contact so avoid eye contact when you make a loud noise they aren’t expecting like turning the vacuum on or firing up an electric drill. Just go about your chores in a calm and confident matter and your dog will soon learn there is nothing to fear. Remember that your dog will be looking to you for cues so if you aren’t reacting to the washing machine on a spin cycle neither will they!
USING TOUCH, VOICE & ENERGY
Use long, slow strokes when touching your dog. This type of affection will be more calming than quick, jerky movements that can contribute to anxiety. Use a lower, deeper tone of voice to talk to your dog since high pitched voices tend to get dogs excited – or can make dogs more anxious in the case of fearful dogs. Maintain a calm demeanour. Calm owners tend to create calm dogs.
Most rescue dogs will be accustomed to eating a variety of foods so stomach issues aren’t normally a problem. However, if your dog has an upset stomach or diarrhea, try a mix of rice and cooked boneless chicken mixed with 3 tablespoons of tinned pure pumpkin (not pie filling!) Pepto Bismol tablets can also be given – one every 12 hours if the pumpkin mixture doesn’t help and if the diarrhea is severe try a 24 hour fast and/or call your veterinarian.
Just like people, dogs need exercise to get the heart pumping, and keep bones and muscles strong. Exercise also helps your dog’s brain release endorphins which help reduce stress and anxiety while contributing to an overall feeling of well being. Just like in people! And while walks are certainly great for fresh air and stimulation, keep in mind that young, healthy dogs will need a good stretch of vigorous exercise to get those endorphins flowing! Choose an exercise method that suits both you and your dog whether it be running, hiking or dog parks.
Decide what end result you want from your leash training and then stick to it. For example: Do you want to walk with your dog on the right or the left? Most people prefer that their dog walk on their left side but regardless of which way you choose, make the conscious decision to do it one way or the other and then DON’T CHANGE IT. Be consistent. If you have partners, friends or family members who are also involved, then make sure everyone is aware of the rule. Especially with anxious or fearful dogs, consistency and repetition will greatly reduce their stress level.
PULLING ON THE LEASH
Only move forward when there is no tension on the leash. If your dog pulls forward don’t yank back on the leash as this is both ineffective and counter-productive. Instead stop, stay calm and stand still until the tension slackens then proceed. Alternatively you can turn and walk in the opposite direction when your dog pulls so that your dog is always following you. Remember you are the leader, not your dog!
It is not uncommon for a new rescue to have an accident or two indoors until they get used to their new food, new routine and become familiar with their surroundings. Keep in mind they have often been holding on for many hours so when they have to go, they have to go! If your dog has an accident indoors, quietly clean it up. NEVER scold or punish your dog for an accident. Your dog won’t be able to comprehend what he has done wrong and scolding will only confuse him and teach him to fear and mistrust you. Instead, make sure you are giving your dog lots of potty breaks, watch for cues that your dog has to go, and reward when he goes outside. Young dogs may benefit from having pee pads inside the house.
TIP: Although it sounds a bit gross, if your dog has an accident inside, you may want to take a little bit of the mess and place it outside in the area where you want your dog to go. Then, next time you take your dog out, go to that same spot. Your dog will smell their own urine in that area and it will help trigger a response that it is safe to eliminate in that area.
DEALING WITH A NERVOUS OR FEARFUL DOG
Don’t treat your nervous dog’s fears as frivolous and silly. Their fears are very real to them and if you validate them, they will come to believe you understand the perceived threat and will come to trust you to keep them safe. The best way to validate your dog’s fears is to move them away from whatever is frightening them. Eventually they will look to you for guidance about the threat and when they see you are calm, they will be as well.
It is a natural and automatic response to want to comfort our dog when they are afraid. But when we do, we are inadvertently rewarding them for the nervous behaviour, thereby encouraging them to exhibit fear. What we need to do instead is to ignore them when they are scared (so hard to do, we know) and give them lots of praise when they are behaving the way we want them to – calmly and confidently. If they are rewarded for those behaviours they are much more likely to repeat them.
Dogs are better able to self-calm when they are given structure. It is very comforting to them to be given tasks. So when they are behaving nervously, ask them to sit or lie down. It is also helpful to teach them to look at your eyes when they are uncertain about how to react to a scary situation. Get their attention with a treat or a touch so they look at you and say “watch me” at the same time. Once trained, use the command “watch me” whenever your dog begins to behave in a fearful manner. This helps your nervous dog orient toward you as well as helps him disengage from people who are frightening to him.
We encourage you to take training seriously and to begin training your dog within a few days of their arrival. Check out courses in your local area and enroll right away. Even basic beginner courses like those taught at a local pet store can have a huge benefit in helping your dog learn to socialize and get used to being in public situations, all with the added benefit of strengthening the bond with you. Most bad behaviors can be modified if caught early enough so make sure to nip undesirable behaviours in the bud before they become serious problems!
CONTACT US AT ANY TIME
We are always available should you have any questions, concerns, have a story to share, need help or want to help! Do not hesitate to reach out to us at email@example.com.