Inviting a new dog to become part of your family is very exciting. However, if your new pooch is a rescue dog, your relationship will need to begin on a different footing than would be the case with a non-rescue dog. Remember, any dog from a shelter or pound may have been let down already, which means they might have trouble trusting a human again. The first thing to remember is: you can’t blame them. Rescue dogs will learn to trust and can be as loving, comfortable and happy as any other dog (perhaps even more so), given time. However, it may mean you’ll have to spend a bit more time and effort cultivating a trusting, loving bond with your rescue dog. 

The good thing is that anybody can bond with their dog, and it can be highly rewarding and fun. If you give bonding a chance, you’ll have a new bestie in no time. 

If this is your first dog, there are some important things you should know about dogs and other animals:

  • Water– dogs need drinking water as much as humans do - it’s essential.

  • Food– dogs need healthy food as much as humans do - it’s essential.

  • Home– dogs need a safe place as much as humans do - it’s essential.

  • Care– dogs need caring as much as humans do - it’s essential.

  • Treatment– dogs need medical attention as much as humans do - it’s essential.

Preparing For Your Rescue Dog

Be sure to have the items you’ll need to have a dog - things such as a big bag of dog food designed especially for your new pooch’s build and breed; things like dog shampoo, a feed and water bowl, a bed, poop bags, treats and a collar with an ID tag. Set some ground rules, if you have a family and don’t forget to doggie-proof your house. A new dog will feel insecure in a new environment and they might react by chewing whatever they can find. The secret is to think laterally and prevent the problem by keeping anything chewable out of reach, as you would with a child. Also, be prepared for a few accidents in the first few weeks while your dog adjusts. Even if your dog has been toilet trained in the past, the confusion about the new surroundings may mean a little present or two on the lounge room floor.  

Bonding With Your New Dog

One of the best ways of making a rescue dog feel comfortable is to simply spend time with them. If you work from home, then you’re one step ahead because your dog can be with you all day. Many dog rescue organisations won’t allow a dog to be adopted unless it will be living in the house with the family. If you can’t accommodate a dog in the house, then adopting a rescue dog may not be for you. Remember, your dog isn’t a commodity, and is not in your life so it can simply bark if someone tries to break into your house, or to wait all day for you to come home and then watch you open the mail, vacuum the floors, or eat your dinner as if he or she is just a piece of furniture. Your dog has feelings, so in that regard, it’s important for you to show your new dog that you care, just as you would a friend or other member of the family.  

Training Your Dog is a Bonding Activity

Obedience training is also vital in strengthening your bond. Local councils often run dog obedience classes, or you can always pay a dog trainer to come and teach both you and your pet - yes, you because it’s no good just teaching your dog to behave without teaching you. There are online dog obedience classes as well, but a class offline means you get to spend time per day with no distractions, just you and your dog learning new commands together. After your workday is done, spend time with your new dog playing, teaching them to fetch, pull on a rope toy, or just go for a walk in the park. If your dog needs to learn to walk without pulling you over then that’s a good way of bonding - teach them to heel. 

Have Lots of Fun Bonding

Dogs love to explore, so once the heel command is under control why not change routes. Doing this gives your pooch a chance to sniff all the delicious scents other dogs have left behind and exposes you and your bestie to new areas. Include other family members so everyone can bond and have fun. You can also arrange ‘play days’ with other dogs which will teach your pup to be sociable. As you probably know, meeting other dogs can be a bit scary, so go slowly and with confidence. If you’re nervous, your dog will pick it up and might attack the other dog to protect you. Another great bonding activity is simply cuddling up with your pooch on the sofa, the floor, or anywhere and giving lots of pats and baby talk. Rubbing his or her belly is always a favourite. 

Give Your Rescue Dog Lots of Praise

You’ll need to flood your rescue dog with lots and lots of loving praise. And not just a casual ‘good dog’, although there’s nothing wrong with that. With a rescue dog, you will need to raise the level to lavish praise by making a big fuss over even a minor thing. Dogs are just like humans and they need to be told just how wonderful they are and often.

Touch is Everything to a Dog

The more you pat and pet your dog the happier they will be because to a dog, nothing means more to them than touch so, pat your pooch and you’ll be strengthening the bond. A good idea is to make sure you set aside a special time every day when you give your rescue dog some extra love and affection. 

Written by: Alex Morrison

He has been an SEO Expert for over 10 years. In this time he has worked with a range of businesses giving him an in-depth understanding of many different industries. He has used his knowledge and experience to work for clients as diverse as CNS Locksmiths, Cosh Living and Me Bank to help them reach their business goals.

Megan Seccull