We love our dogs here in New Orleans. From the dog-friendly venues in the French Quarter and the art district to the annual Krewe of Barkus parade, we celebrate and cherish our canine companions. This is especially apparent in the nearly twenty animal shelters in the city alone. But before we can bring our rescue dogs to the Quarter or the parade, it’s important that we find ways to help rescue dogs adjust to their new homes.
Give Them Time
Change is hard for everyone, especially someone coming from a difficult or even abusive situation. While some rescue dogs are quick to warm up to their new situation, others can take up to three months before they are comfortable enough to show their true personalities. Time and patience are the foundation of helping rescue dogs adjust to their new situations. Also, don’t be concerned if your dog seems shy or skittish around you in the beginning. Just like human relationships, bonds take time to develop. Be patient, offer treats and affection, and in time, your dog will come around.
Create a Stress-Free Environment
The best way to establish that trust and bond is to show your dog that its new home is a place of safety and security. Dogs are comforted by routine and structure. From day one, start doing things like setting ground rules and walking your dog at the same time every day. Try not to overload your dog with new faces and experiences before it has come to understand its place in its new home.
Be Vigilant for Health or Emotional Issues
Most shelters will be able to tell you of any health issues before you bring your dog home so that you can prepare your house accordingly. Even if they haven’t told you about any health issues, it’s good to keep an eye on a dog afterward to see if it has any physical difficulties or if there are certain foods that it responds to negatively. Providing a living space that is easy to navigate and gentle to any health issues will help a dog feel comfortable at home.
The emotional pains will be a little more difficult to prepare for because some of them won’t surface until you’ve brought your dog home. You may find that your dog responds to certain people more negatively than others because they remind it of someone who abused it, or certain movements or settings may cause it greater anxiety. Being aware of anxiety triggers for your dog can help you take steps to mitigate its fears, such as offering extra comfort, giving it treats or CBD oil, or avoiding the situation altogether.