Sunshine Golden Retriever Rescue would like to thank you for choosing our rescue to adopt your next furry companion from. Without adoptive homes like yours, rescue would not be possible. Your new family member has had a hard life and has gone through many transitions. To help ease acclimating your new dog to its new home, we have provided some important information for you.
Many of our dogs arrive to their new owners via transport from the south. This transportation occurs over the course of a few days. Each dog rides in its own crate and has constant access to water while en route. The transporters stop to check on the dogs every few hours as well as to provide exercise and potty breaks along the way. Be mindful that some rescued dogs are quite uneasy after transport, while others are no worse for wear after their journey north. Take it slowly and follow your dog's lead. They don't speak our language and we don't understand their “woofs”, but each dog's respective behavior will be a clear indicator. Please respect and appreciate that these are rescued animals and we will never know all of their triggers, if any. Fortunately, you are the last chapter of their rescue stories.
Take care to introduce your dog to new things slowly, recognizing that everything is new and unfamiliar, including the climate and region to which they are being transported. Some dogs are not hungry right away, while others have ravenous appetites. Some are itchy upon coming to a new region, so we suggest initially feeding a hypoallergenic or limited ingredient dog food. (Some commercial brands include: Taste of the Wild Grain-free formulas, Natural Balance Sweet Potato & Venison Formula, Potato & Duck Formula, Sweet Potato & Fish Formula.) Feed wisely, slowly, and routinely, and know that in a few days' time your dog will acclimate to its new routine.
Again, when your dogs arrive, please be patient and understanding as they transition into your loving care. Know that some dogs are more hesitant and need a longer timeframe to acclimate than others who might get off transport ready to run and play and romp and jump straight into your heart! For at least the first 2 weeks, avoid adding any additional stress to the dog’s new environment. Keep things at home low-key and refrain from hosting any gatherings or taking the dog into over-stimulating situations such as dog parks, pet stores, etc. There will be plenty of time for this once your dog settles in.
Also, allow a few days to bond with your dog after his or her arrival. Ideally, a few days off from work will allow you both to become accustomed to one another. Do not take for granted that the dog will be OK left loose in the house when you go out. Use short trial periods to gauge what will work best for your dog. A dog cannot do damage unless you allow that to happen. Watch your new dog during the transition period. When you can't supervise, keep him/her in a secure are such as a kitchen, crate or other protected area with chew toys that he/she can occupy him/herself with and where he cannot do damage. Eventually the dog will learn what is acceptable and what is not. Dogs need to earn their privileges which include free range of your home.
However with that said, your new family member is just that - a family member. Do not isolate him/her in a garage, basement, or any other place that is separate from where the family stays and spends time. Being with people brings security and helps the dog become socialized.
Even if your dog was house broken, anxiety and stress can cause regression. You should be prepared for toileting accidents, so have pet specific cleaning products on hand. During the first two weeks, keep your dog close to you so that if he/she starts to eliminate indoors, you can correct it immediately. Otherwise, the dog may relieve itself in other rooms. If you don't catch the dog in the act, there's no use in scolding because the dog won't remember or make the connection. Try to maintain a routine; for example, take your dog outside first thing in the morning, when you get home from work, within an hour after the dog eats, just before bedtime, and following vigorous play. Young puppies may need to be taken outside every two hours.
Exercise & Safety
Dogs, especially larger dogs, need a lot of exercise. A tired dog is a happy dog. The amount of exercise each dog needs varies, so watch your dog’s signals. If your dog is destructive, it is possible that he/she is not getting enough exercise, socialization, and is therefore bored. Keep your dog on a leash in ALL unfenced areas. This can prevent tragedy. Dogs have a natural prey drive and could chase an animal, a ball, children who may be running. Accidents happen in split seconds…
Be sure to walk your dog with a slip lead collar or harness that fits snugly and that they cannot escape from. We strongly urge you to get your dogs micro-chipped as well. After all, many came into our rescue as strays, and too often we do not know how they wound up at the shelter.
SGRR Note: Rescue dogs must all be considered flight risks for their safety. While these dogs may be less inclined to want to rush out as they settle into their home, it is a good reminder that it is MOST important that potential adopters understand that every precaution must be taken to assure a rescue dog's safety. This includes keeping them from bolting out a door ahead of you. It is for this reason that SGRR's Adoption Contract requires that all dogs be leashed in unfenced areas. Rescue dogs are treasures and it is up to us to protect them.
Introducing a new dog to the pack: Introducing a new dog into the home can be a lot simpler when it's done correctly. Don't get upset when the resident dog tells the newcomer to "bug off." This is how the new dog learns the house rules. Eventually they should become fast friends.
~Keep it friendly - It may be possible to introduce the dogs in a relaxed manner by just letting them sniff and play, as long as both are known to be friendly with other dogs.
~Take it slow - Start off cautiously by taking them for a walk together on neutral territory such as a park and not your yard. When they show friendly behavior toward each other or begin to ignore each other, move the exercise to your back yard. Finally, allow the dogs to be together in your home.
~Watch for signs - Be aware that wagging tails do not necessarily mean that dogs are happy to see each other. A straight up tail that wags stiffly is a dominant sign that may signal aggression. If one dog's tail is tucked down between its legs, that dog is afraid and nervous. This calls for a gradual, well-supervised approach to avoid making the dog even more fearful. If a dog's tail is horizontal and wagging in a relaxed fashion, it's all systems go!
~The dominant dog will emerge - When the dogs eventually meet off-leash, one of them is going to need to establish dominance. This is a normal and necessary step in a dog-dog relationship, but sometimes the process can look and sound pretty scary. The dogs will maneuver around each other and may even scuffle to the point at which one dog ends up on his back, with the other dog standing over him. There may be some nipping and grabbing of the neck or throat. Try not to worry too much when this happens. It is normal for dogs to engage in such roughness. Once the dominant dog establishes himself, he probably won't feel the need to repeat these maneuvers.
~Support the dominant dog - Once the dogs are together, make sure that you support one dog as dominant (in almost all situations, this should be the resident dog). Show him that he is "number one" by feeding and petting him first and giving him the favorite sleeping area. Don't expect the dogs to share. Sharing isn't normal for most dogs. Feed them separately (across the room) and don't give high value chew items such as rawhides and pig ears until the hierarchy is secure.
Setting Your Dog Up For Success
As mentioned above, dogs can be possessive of treats and toys. We do not recommend you feed high value to safeguard against resource guarding -- and be mindful of feeding if you have multiple dogs. It is your responsibility to be prudent and help your dogs acclimate to one another. Separate them always until you are certain that they have no issues at meal time or with bones/treats/bedding, and anything and everything that they might have to now navigate together. This is of paramount concern. These dogs can be excitable and unnerved -- or happy tail waggers. Still, so many of them have unknown pasts and we must always seek to set our dogs up to succeed and not fail.
Do not kiss your dog or place your face at his/her eye level until the dog understands that you are the boss. Otherwise, you are telling him/her that you are equal. This is also means that if your dog is allowed on your furniture, he will see himself as on the same level. Until your pet understands the family structure and his/her place in it do not do anything that will let him/her think you are both on the same level.
Your dog will need time to adjust to the rules and schedules of your home. He needs to know you are boss and will respond to your guidance. Your dog wants to please you and will obey, but you must be consistent, otherwise he will take charge. Do not send mixed signals. If you tell him something stay with it and make sure he does what you want. If you are dealing with any behavior that is not acceptable, or have any questions, ask a professional immediately. The longer inappropriate behavior is allowed to continue, the harder it will be to correct. Many adopted dogs have not had the fortune of being socialized yet. Their baggage may include unacceptable behavior. Re-educate your dog with the help of books and qualified professionals.
Owner knowledge is the key to a successful adoption. Loving care, leadership, routine medical visits, and obedience training are essential. Expect the best, but prepare for all possibilities that might show up in your dog. Each animal is unique and will handle the stress of transport and/or joining a new home individually. Our volunteers are here to help you and your new dog for the long run and we are happy to assist you in any and every way.