1. Select wisely
This is your most important step. Keep in mind this new dog will be with you for a long time; up to 8 to 12 years!
Unfortunately not all dogs will make a good family pet. The more time you put into finding out about the dog, the more likely it will be a good match. There are some key phrases in certain dog adoption descriptions that you should be wary of:
- Needs a home with no children (may have already been inappropriate with or bitten kids)
- Needs to be a single dog (may be dog aggressive)
- Would make an excellent agility dog (the person saying that is basically saying this dog is hyper-active or gets in lots of trouble or worse)
- Just needs a strong owner or handler (why?)
Many dog trainers offer their services in the selection of a new dog. You cannot worry about spending the money on this service as it could keep you from spending money on trying to rehabilitate a problem dog.
Just take your time, do your homework and you will end up with a wonderful dog who may need some training, but as long as you don't have major behavior problems to fix, you'll be much better off.
2. Be prepared
Before you pick up your newly rescued dog, be sure you have everything you need at home.
- Proper leash and collar
- Crate(s) (two is better than one)
- A dog training class for the near future
- A plan for a well trained dog
- Good dog training books
- As much knowledge as you can get your hands on
3. Have goals
Don't plan for the dog you are getting but actually for the well-behaved dog you want. This is where lots of people make their mistakes. People are often too caught up and worried about the dog's past (feeling sorry for him/her) and what he or she may have experienced. So instead of good training, there may be too much pity for the past and that can cloud your training goals. Althought it can be helpful to know what happened in your dog's past, what really matters is that he or she has been lucky enough to find a good home (with you). Dogs live in the present, not in the past or the future. What matters to them is now. Because of that, they will be learning whether you are intentionally training them or not. Be consistent with your training right from the beginning and your dog will be much more successful in his new forever home.
4. Pick a time you will be around for a few days...
Try to bring your new dog home when you know you will be around so that you can help him deal with the new life he has. Don't bring your new dog home on Sunday and then go to work 9 - 5 on a Monday.
5. But, still plan on being away a little
Best time to bring a new dog home is right before you have a couple of days off from work, but still leave your new dog for short periods of time so he can begin to get ready to be left alone for several hours at a time.
6. Introduce carefully
You do not know this new dog at all. You are trusting the person who adopted him out to you. You have to learn everything first hand so be careful. It's in your new dog's best interest as well that you introduce him to new situations carefully. You are your dog's guardian and its up to you to look out for him. If he makes a mistake because he was put in a situation he couldn't handle, it will be hard on both of you.
Once you've introduced him to new people, dogs, cats, kids, watch. Even if you know very little about dog language your gut will tell you if something doesn't seem right. Again, you are your dog's guardian and protector. Set him up for success!
8. Stick to the rules
Decide in advance what the rules will be. Will he or she be allowed on the furniture? Will your new dog be sleeping in your bed? Consider saving that privileges until after you've done some solid training.
9. Begin gentle training right away
As I said earlier, find your dog trainer right away. Don't wait for problems to arise, try to fend off problems by being pro-active.
10. Have fun
Most important! Enjoy this journey. There is none other quite like it. Over time you and your dog will build an incredible bond from everything you do together.