Our entire goal at H-E-A-R-T is permanent rehoming of our dogs in need. That starts with our adopter’s commitment. With these tips you will set your new dog up for success to be a wonderful addition to your family.
Gather Needed Supplies – We have developed a first time Husky owner shopping list to guide you here: http://a.co/5lZ0Qic
Dog-Proof your house by looking for and removing hazardous items and valuable items that the dog could chew.
Setup your house for the dog’s arrival. Determine where the dog’s crate, bed, and bowls will be placed. Decide where food, treats, and supplies will be stored. Determine the house rules for the dog and make sure all family members know what they are.
Decide what the dog’s schedule will be for walks, play, training, feeding, and potty time and who will be responsible. You should try to keep this as similar to the schedule the foster has them on for easiest transition into your home.
Determine ahead of time where the dog will ride on the way home. It’s best to have two people if possible; one to drive and the other to pay attention to the dog. Bring towels just in case the dog gets car sick.
Bring the dog straight home – try not to run errands on the way.
No welcome-home parties. Limit/discourage visitors for the first few days so that your new dog isn’t overwhelmed.
When you arrive home let the dog sniff around the yard or outdoor area near your home on a leash.
Introduce your dog to your family members outside, one at a time. Keep it calm and low-key. Let the dog be the one to approach, sniff and drive the interaction. Offering a treat can help the dog to associate family members with good things(food!). No hugging, kissing, picking up, staring at, or patting on the top of the head during the initial introduction – these things can be scary for some dogs.
Stay close to home initially. No major excursions. You need to learn your new dog’s behavior before you can predict how the dog will respond to different stimulus. Establish a walk routine in an area you are familiar with. Structured play in the yard is also a good form of exercise, bonding, and training.
Bring your dog into the house on a leash and give it a tour of the house. Try keeping the mood calm and relaxed.
Bring your new dog outside often. Dogs don’t generalize as well as we do, so even though your dog may have been house trained in its previous home, your dog needs to learn your house rules, which includes a house training refresher.
Make sure your new dog gets ample “quiet time” so that your dog can acclimate to the new surroundings. Be observant of the dog’s responses and go at the dog’s pace.
If you have a resident dog(s), it may be better to wait before introducing them to the new dog. If the new dog has just arrived off a transport it’s best to give them a day or two to decompress. Then, introduce them on neutral territory, walking them together until they’re more interested in their surroundings than each other, and walking them in the door together. Leashes stay on! Let your dogs drag their leashes around the house. This allows you to give them verbal commands and stand on the leash if they don’t comply. It’s a much better concept than going hands-on for redirection. The leash can also help you to separate them if need be. Remove items from the household that can be catalysts for conflict – treats, toys, bones, food bowls, etc. These should be introduced slowly in the weeks to come once the pack order has been established. Food bowls go down and get picked up after meals. It’s always best to feed your dogs in separate areas, even using a crate if need be. Dogs typically share water without incident though. The entire goal is to successfully socialize them. Don’t leave them alone together until you are absolutely sure it is safe to do so. Watch and manage all interactions between the dogs initially.
Naturally, the first thing you want to do with your new dog is... everything! We KNOW you are so excited and you want to share your new addition with everyone you can. And after all, isn’t socialization one of the most important aspects of dog ownership? Yes. BUT before all of that comes the bond and trust between dog and owner. To be successful when fostering or adopting a rescue dog, time is needed to adjust to you, your family, your home, and other pets in the new environment. Your dog should be comfortable in the new environment before introducing them to new people, other dogs, new places, or taking them out on big adventures.
Every dog is unique and adjusts differently. We recommend the "Two-Week Introduction Method” which is a time frame that resonates in a dog’s mind. It mimics the whelping box when first born; when the puppy’s eyes are not open and he relies totally on the mother’s ability to take care of them. By smelling, sensing, and listening, the puppy starts his journey into the new world. New adult dogs come into our homes the same way. This is a new journey. By giving the dog a “time out,” the dog can learn his new world, his new people, and begin to relax and blossom. While we all want to run out with our new dog and show everyone our new pet. We can forget that everything is completely new to the dog and he is likely in a puppy-like state of mind. He needs to explore, learn the rules of his new life, and become comfortable with his new family and surroundings.
The voices in his new home may have different tones and pitches and maybe even accents. Cars might be new; leashes and handling might be new. The home environment might be new as well - single family home, townhome, apartment building. It can be overwhelming. The dog wonders, “Who are you? Where did you come from? Where are we going?” And while we know the dog is HOME and safe, the dog doesn’t yet know it.
The best practice is to crate the dog in a separate room and limit their exposure to the environment. Doing this for a few days will allow the dog to get used to the sights, sounds and smells of your home without being immersed in daily life 24/7.
Leashing is an option. This also teaches the new safe zone when the dog is around you and other humans in the home. This also stops the dog from reacting if you have to get them off of something like the couch. You are not reaching in and grabbing onto them. Just tug gently on the leash, say "off" (or whatever command you choose to use) and there you go. No conflict!
No obedience training should be done for the first two weeks -- just fun exercise. Use lunge lines if you have too big of a yard. If you have a large enough yard, do not leave the dog alone in the yard. Leash walking in the neighborhood works. But stick to the same path when walking! Huskies will notoriously go into flight mode in a new environment. God forbid the dog gets loose, having an established path will be the first place to look for the dog.
No car rides – this can be too much change and stimulation. No pet stores or dog parks either. Only take the dog out if he needs to visit a veterinarian.
No new buddies! Dog parks and meeting new friends for playdates can be overwhelming at first. Do not introduce the dog to other pets outside of your home for the first few days to a week. The time frame of this will depend on the dog.
If you have a current dog, take things slowly. The dogs do not need to be together 24/7. For the first weeks, they can be side by side in the crates. They should not be nose to nose for this can cause them to can feel defensive. The current dog will also need time to adjust to having another dog in their territory. Allow the dogs short time periods together to get used to each other with breaks in between.
Once exercise/yard time is finished, put the dog back in his crate. Let them absorb, think, and rest. If the dog goes to his crate on his own, he is telling you, “I need a time out." Allow them this time. By having the dog out for long periods of time, we are forcing the dog to keep accepting all new things. By putting the dog in his crate, we are asking them to accept a few things and then go think and absorb. When we let them out later, we can introduce a few more things so it is not overwhelming on the dog.
Ignore bad behavior. Ignore crying and/or barking. If you run to the dog each time they bark, whine, or cry, you are teaching the dog that doing those things gets your attention. The dog must learn to be secure when you are not there. Use the leash to correct jumping, exploring counters, etc.
Praise good behavior gently. For example, the dog is sitting nicely next to you. Touch or softly pet the dog “good boy/girl." Let them know that you appreciate GOOD behavior. This makes naughty behavior not so fun if you ignore THAT. Praise the good!
In about two weeks you will see a change in the dog and begin to see his honest and true personality. Keep in mind that every dog is an individual and may take more or less time. Giving them structure will give them the chance to be well behaved and “reboot” themselves these first few weeks. Once the adjustment time is over, dogs relax and their true personality begins to shine through! Take the time to let them learn about you as you are learning who he is! This method works on shy dogs, confident dogs, abuse cases, dogs who were previously chained, rowdy dogs, all temperaments! You will gain their trust and show them, calmly and fairly, what this new world is like. With this time and routine they will relax and feel safe.
Two weeks may seem like a long time, but it’s nothing compared to setting them up for being a wonderful part of your family for the next 10 years! So, give them a chance to show you who he can really be!