Rehabilitating your new rescue dog can be much more of a challenge if you do not know what to expect. However, opening your home and heart to an abused or under-socialized dog can be very rewarding. This is the first step in saving another deserving life. The rescue shelters can become overwhelmed when they are suddenly required to house large numbers of dogs. This usually occurs when the rescue involves a puppy mill or a hoarding situation. So allowing your home to be a foster home for these dogs is a win-win situation.
Rehabilitation is equal parts love, caring, and patience.
The rehabilitation process is an intricate part of the rescue. Dogs need to feel safe and comfortable around new people as well as other animals. This rehabilitation does not take place overnight. However, with the right amount of patience and encouragement, it does happen. People find a new purpose in life all the time, at least the lucky ones do. This is no different for dogs and with the proper stimuli coupled with the proper environment they too find a new purpose in life.
Your intentions may be pure and you are only trying to help a new rescue but the dog does not know that. With this in mind, there are a few things that should be prepped before you bring your new rescue home.
Preparation is key in these situations and it should be approached with that in mind. This is not only for the new rescues safety but for yours as well. I suggest obtaining everything you might need beforehand. It is always better to have something and not need it than to need it and not have it. Might I suggest a few of the things to consider?
1. Large amount of food treats
2. A couple of leashes (chain and a traditional)
3. A good collar (i.e. Martingale)
4. A harness
5. An I.D. tag
6. Appropriately sized crate
7. Tie-out kit
8. Dog food
9. Puppy pads
10. Industrial/heavy duty gloves
11. Exercise Pen
12. Gate or gates (baby/doggy)
Understanding what you are getting into will help you be patient.
Chances are, your new rescue may not trust any humans and that is to be expected. In other words, it is okay in the beginning. Not all dogs will have the same level of need but they do usually share common behaviors. Some of these behaviors can include a fear of the outdoors, loud noises, and people. You can possibly expect some biting and a difficulty with house-training.
You can possibly expect other issues with your new rescue as well. They may not know how to go to the bathroom outdoors, allow you to pet them, or accept you feeding them by hand. They may not come when called, walk on a leash, allow you to hold them, or play with toys. All of these behaviors are normal under the circumstances. Again, not all dogs will have the same level of need but it is safer to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
You should also be aware of the fact that many of these dogs can have medical issues as well. These dogs usually come from a neglectful situation and it is important that you ask the right questions. So if you are fostering or adopting a dog from a rescue group or shelter, be sure to ask what sort of exams, tests, and treatments have been done. These shelters would be happy to share this information with you because you are all interested in the safety of the animal.
Your patience, love, and dedication will pay off.
This will be a journey and I dare say it will not be easy, but it will be rewarding. You have to remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. There can be a noticeable improvement in your rescue dog one day and the next day he or she may seem to be reverting. This too is expected. Each dog can and will be different, so there is no one size fits all. However, in general, you will have to assess each situation as it unfolds.
Each dog and each situation are different. Sometimes a dog will become a normal household pet. Other times, a dog may always need some type of special care.
Nevertheless, whichever outcome you and your new pet arrives at, be proud that you have made a difference. You have saved a life.