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Tips for bringing a rescue dog home

Her name was Chevy, and she was the ugliest dog I had ever seen. Her fur was practically non-existent, and her skin was pink and spotted. But she kept standing up every time I passed her crate. So I asked a shelter volunteer to get her out so I could see her.

I sat patiently in a waiting room while the shelter volunteer leashed Chevy up and brought her around. The instant the volunteer opened the door she barreled towards me and hurtled her 50 pounds into my lap. I was sold. I was taking the world’s ugliest dog home with me.

Fast forward eight years. That once ugly dog has grown a thick white coat of fur, and is now named Ellie Bean. She is no longer ugly, but is most definitely the silliest dog I have ever met. I have found her lying under her dog bed, running around the yard with a trashcan she put on her own head, and laying behind the curtains.

Living with my rescue, like any pet, has not been without its challenges. Ellie was a little over a year old when I got her, and it took awhile to get her to feel safe in her new home. That was difficult for me at times, but I never regret adopting this fuzzy goofball.

Whether you are adopting an older dog or bringing home a puppy, these tips for integrating your new dog into your home will help make the transition smoother:

  • Be patient! Your dog does not know your house rules, and may have had very different ones before, (or never even lived inside).
  • Channel your calmest thoughts! Dogs get stressed too! Your pup may behave very differently once you bring them home. Keep visitors to a minimum and focus on acclimating your dog to their new home. And know that stress affects dogs in very different ways. They may shake or shiver, hide, or in Ellie’s case vomit. Give them their space and use a calm, soothing voice to speak to them.
  • Reward good behavior! This might seem pretty common sense, but it goes a long way. It will help your dog learn the house rules quickly. But beware of giving your dog too many treats, or they will pack on the pounds! Many pet stores have small treats specifically for training purposes.

Bringing a pet into your home can be one of the most rewarding experiences. I now have two rescue dogs that are night and day in personality, but add so much to my everyday life.

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