Building a Relationship with a Rescue Dog
Starting off on the right foot by building a great relationship with your new rescue dog is the best way to ensure you will have a lifelong and well behaved companion by your side. By building a relationship with him or her, you are demonstrating that you are his confident new leader and will be there to protect and care for him, which is something that all dogs naturally crave. Using food to help you kick start your bonding process is a great tool to use. You should try and hand feed your dog as much as possible, which you can introduce with games and having him come to you, do short training sessions with, etc. This is also a great way to help him learn his new name, or reinforce the name he already has. When your rescue dog learns that you control the food and water, it helps him or her realize that you are the one providing these primary resources that he or she needs and will help prevent any questions of social significance in the household.
Teaching your new addition his role in the family helps him build great confidence, as dogs desire to have a clear and consistent leader. The chances are high that your dog has not experienced clear and consistent rules, so you should set up guidelines for him to follow right from the start. Your dog should have limited freedom in the house initially, as it not only helps with house breaking in this new environment, but it can also be overwhelming for a dog entering a new lifestyle to have endless amounts of space that are now his to figure out what to do with. Your dog is likely to test his boundaries and try to demand things as he is still learning the rules. It is commonly misconceived that rescued dogs that have already been living their life one way cannot change his or her habits, much like the saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”- but that is simply not true. Dogs are incredible at adjusting to their environments, and it is important to keep in mind that each dog adjusts differently from the next.
It is very common that when a family adds a second dog to a household that the new dog bonds immediately with the resident dog. If there is already another dog pre-existing in your household, you will want to make sure to try and prevent this in order to ensure that your newly adopted dog forms the strongest bond with you, his leader. Along with training and playing games, touch is another great way to initiate and cement a bond between the two of you. Touch also is a great way that allows a dog to release stress and sometimes an aid to relaxation. But it is important to know the length of time and areas in which your individual dogs like to be touched, and not go by your own preferences of how you would like to pet your dog. It may be a good idea to contact your local canine training expert to aid you with introducing your new addition to an existing resident dog if you have any questions or concerns.