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The First Three Weeks

The first, second, and third weeks with a new rescue dog in your home are crucial for building trust, establishing routines, and helping them adjust to their new environment. Here's a general overview of what each week might look like:

First Week:

  1. Focus on settling in: During the first week, give your rescue dog time to acclimate to their new surroundings. Provide a designated safe space for them with a comfortable bed or crate.  The rescue recommends a wire crate and an area that can separate and secure from the rest of the house. A mudroom or kitchen can work with baby gate (s).  A foldable playpen with an open bottom will also work. This will be the secure area where your dog will decompress. It's a place of rest and familiarity.  This area should also be easy to cleanup if there are potty accidents.

  2. Establish a routine: Set up a consistent daily routine for feeding, potty breaks, exercise, and playtime. Dogs thrive on routine, and it helps them feel secure.

  3. Bonding and socialization: Spend quality time bonding with your dog through gentle interactions, petting, and speaking in a calm, reassuring tone. Allow them to explore your home gradually while supervising them.

  4. Basic training: Begin introducing basic commands like "sit," "stay," and "come" using positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise. Keep training sessions short and positive.

  5. Potty training: Focus on consistent potty training by taking your dog outside frequently, especially after meals, naps, or play sessions. Praise and reward them when they eliminate in the appropriate spot.

  6. Expect anxiety:  Your dog may smell, sniff and explore and may want to "mark". Marking is not a sign or potty-training, but it's a way for a dog to make the area more familiar. As a dog become more familiar with an area, marking will decrease. Use a belly band on male dogs (a wrap around a dog's belly) to continue introducing your new dog to new areas of the house without the risk of soiling your home.

  7. Supervise and correct: Supervise your dog when it's not in the decompression kenneling area.  Your dog is learning house manners and will need verbal corrections.

  8. Keep it small and simple: Limit interactions to only people/dogs living in the home.  Adjusting to a new situation is stressful, and your dog can be overwhelmed. Scared and overwhelmed dogs can do unpredictable things.

  9. Learning through separation: Keep kids and other dogs separate and only allow interactions supervised. This allows all household members to slowly get acclimated without the pressure to bond.  Even separated, your new dogs and other family members are learning about each other.

  10. Train and rest: Dogs while decompressing, need as much rest as training.  Bonding and socialization is a form of training that can tax a new dog. For every hr of training, give the dog an equal amount of rest in the kenneling area. 

  11. Give them rest and time: With slow pacing and gradual introduction, your dog should be completely comfortable in the kenneling area at the end of week 1.

Second Week:

  1. Reinforce routines: Continue to reinforce the daily routines established in the first week. Consistency is essential to help your rescue dog feel secure and understand expectations.

  2. Gradual exposure: Introduce your dog to new experiences and environments gradually. Expose them to different sounds, sights, and people in a controlled manner, ensuring their comfort level. Increase the supervised access time to other areas of the home.

  3. Leash training: Begin leash training by introducing your dog to a properly fitted leash and collar or harness. Start with short walks in familiar areas and gradually increase the duration and distance.

  4. Obedience training: Expand on the basic commands introduced in the first week. Work on reinforcing their understanding of commands, focusing on positive reinforcement and consistency.

  5. Socialization: Begin controlled interactions with other friendly, well-behaved dogs or people to improve your dog's socialization skills. Consider supervised visits to a dog park or controlled playdates.

Third Week:

  1. Strengthening routines: Continue to reinforce daily routines and consistency. Your dog should be more comfortable and familiar with the household's expectations and their place in it.

  2. Advanced training: If your dog has grasped the basics, you can introduce more advanced training exercises, such as heel, lie down, or leave it. Consider enrolling in a positive reinforcement-based obedience class or work with a professional trainer if needed.

  3. Increased exercise and mental stimulation: Provide your dog with increased physical exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and promote their overall well-being. This may include longer walks, interactive toys, or puzzle games.

  4. Continual socialization: Continue exposing your dog to various social situations, different environments, and new people or animals. Encourage positive experiences and monitor their reactions to ensure their comfort.

  5. Regular veterinary care: Schedule a check-up with a veterinarian to ensure your rescue dog is up to date on vaccinations, receive any necessary treatments, and discuss any health concerns.


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