Dog Training 

10 Mindset Changes To Prepare To Bring A Rescue Dog Home

Much will change when you bring home a rescue dog, both for you and your new furry family. These 10 simple mindset changes will prepare you both for success.

By Katya Lidsky

So you’re ready to adopt a dog, or maybe you’ve already decided on one and are about to bring him or her home. Congratulations! Buckle up for a transformative journey and love like you may never have felt before.

To ensure you have the best possible experience adjusting to your new pup, here are some tips that can help meet expectations and prepare for the ups and downs of dog love.

1. Stick to the basics.

Of course, when you add a rescue animal to your family, you want them to feel as happy and comfortable as possible. The problem with doing this with a feral abandon, however, is that you could inadvertently reinforce an anxious or anxious state of mind in your dog. When a dog comes to a new home, he will try to find out his new surroundings, who you are, and who he is now in relation to his new pack. This can be a scary time.

So remember to stick to the basics – go for walks, have healthy meals, and give love when your dog is calm. Don’t give him access to the couch or your bed because privileges are much easier to grant later when everyone has gotten used to each other and settled in. It’s a lot harder and a lot more work to undo a habit that you no longer want. Keep it simple, let things unfold, and get to know your dog with limits.

2. Routine is king.

Your adopted dog needs care, tenderness, and affection. In order for your dog to transition into your lifestyle as smoothly as possible, he also needs a routine. Try to be consistent about when your puppy takes toilet breaks, when and how you feed him, and where he sleeps. Play a bonding game around the same time each day, use the box when you leave the house, and combine it with a fun activity like a stuffed Kong or bat stick to keep them busy. If you stay consistent, your dog will understand the new normal faster and easier and will feel safe.

3. Give them time – rule of 3.

There is a rule of three in rescue: for the first 3 days, your new dog will likely feel overwhelmed by all the changes. He cannot eat or drink or relieve himself if he goes outside and maybe shut down. Give it a few days to adjust and decompress, and know that in three weeks or so your dog will begin to show the colors of his true personality. Often the quirks appear and sometimes behavioral problems can also occur. Don’t worry, your dedication will make all the difference in teaching your dog to live with you.

By playing training games and participating in bonding activities designed to keep your dog’s mind in balance, your dog will accept his new home, identity in it, and build a solid trust. They say it takes about three months so that your dog fully understands his new place in the world. By stimulating him mentally and exercising him physically, things will go much smoother.

4. Slowly and gradually the race wins.

Dogs learn best slowly and gradually over time. It can be a chore. It can definitely test your patience. But that’s how dogs build associations. However, because dogs are not good at generalizing, they can learn something at home that they don’t practice in the park, for example. You need to teach them again in this new environment with these new distractions. Gradually, with continued practice, your efforts will pay off and you will help your dog reach his or her full potential.

5. No free food.

When a dog first comes into a new home, use the feeding time to practice basic commands like “sit” or “sit”. Inserting a moment to work and bond with your dog is great for your relationship. Even five minutes a day, while you have your morning cup of coffee to interact and engage, is very important to your dog. Over time, these practice points create patterns of mutual respect and develop the feedback loop between the two of you. With every moment you share, you deepen your communication.

6. What is your energy transmission?

Dogs don’t carry the past or the future with them as we do. That is why we love them for their ability to always be present at this moment and invite us to join them. Since dogs don’t rely on words and sub-texts, much of what they ingest comes from our energy. Check your mood when you are with your dog. Are you rushing them? Scared? Annoyed? Is this feeling really about the dog or someone/something else? You can always focus on your pet, touch soft fur, and relax with him in the present moment.

Remember, especially when you are walking your dog, the leash is a direct line of energy so any discomfort or nervousness will be felt by him. The good news is that you can change the nature of her and your own experience by falling into yourself and taking breaks so your dog can smell so you can both enjoy a nature walk.

Another tip: Try to keep a journal for five minutes before going for a walk. Once these feelings are identified and processed, you will not be projecting them onto the dog.

7. Track to see how far you have come.

Dust off an old notebook and take notes! Sometimes simply tracking what problems you and your dog had in the beginning and how they were overcome can do wonders for your story, reminding you of what you’ve achieved together, from establishing patterns around the house to tackling unwanted behaviors, from the small wins to the big paths you’ve come close to. From time to time it’s nice to see in black and white how hard you’ve worked and achieved everything, side by side, hand in paw.

8. Expect dips.

Dogs have personalities. They are individuals with needs, desires, and opinions. Sometimes they will express it and you will not like it. Sometimes they don’t realize what is bothering them and you will get frustrated if you take the guesswork. Expect break-ins from time to time, whether from accidents around the house or when your dog doesn’t like every person or animal he comes into contact with. Make a commitment to set them up for success. Get the help of a certified dog trainer on a positive basis and don’t give up.

When you work through the hard stuff, love grows. The effort you make corresponds to the love you will feel, and just like other people, no relationship is perfect. The work is required. The work is worth it.

9. Everything you focus on grows.

Pay attention every time you touch, talk to, or even look at your dog. Whenever you interact with your pet, say: can I have some more, please! So pay attention to your dog’s behavior and state of mind as you reinforce it through touch, words, eye contact, or even closeness. Sometimes we think we are clearly saying no; for example when our dog jumps up on us as soon as we walk through the door. But in truth, if you touch, look at, or talk to your dog, even if you say, “Stop jumping on me!” You actually reinforce the behavior.

Instead, try turning your back and just removing all of the amplifiers if your dog is offering something that you don’t particularly like. But – and here is the teachable moment – the second your dog relaxes or shows the desired behavior, exactly when you turn back to smile, scratch, and praise calmly. Offer him all the love coupled with what you like to let him know what you want your dog to do more of. Easy to say, harder to do. Just pay attention to what you want and ignore what you don’t want.

10. Observe what comes up inside you.

Dogs can trigger us. They offer love and companionship, sure, but sometimes they drive us crazy. Sometimes it’s a training problem, you need to implement behavior training protocols. In other cases, however, it is not about the dog. Sometimes we get stressed and don’t get the fulfillment of our needs or the support we crave. When this happens, taking our dog for a walk can seem like a chore. But a paradigm shift can help you here. Because in these cases it is less about your rescue puppy than about the dynamics of your life. Acknowledge and be honest with yourself. You deserve to ask about what you need. And your dog deserves to be a dog.

When you and your dog grow together, you offer yourself a special relationship that is second to none. Remember to have fun while you become an imperfect, messy, glorious family. Much luck! We are always there for you when you need us.

Katya Lidsky is a writer, host of The Animal That Changed You podcast, and an all-round dog-obsessed person. She lives in Austin with her family and an endlessly changing foster family (much to the chagrin of her husband). She hopes to meet you one day either at the shelter or at the dessert table. She will be with one or the other. Follow her at @KatyaLidsky.

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Much will change when you bring home a rescue dog, both for you and your new furry family. These 10 simple mindset changes will prepare you both for success.


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