All my dogs are rescues, and every one of them has a story. As with people, part of a dog’s emotional make up is based on past experiences. Sometimes you inherit a dog that came from a wonderful home, but sometimes a dog has a "checkered past."
No matter what happened before, your adopted dog has no way of knowing what the rules are at your house. However, with a little understanding and TLC, you can help your newly adopted dog feel comfortable and become a part of the family.
The first few days with your new friend may be somewhat busy. Many times after you adopt a dog, the first thing you need to do is give Rover a bath. If you suspect fleas or other infestations, a bath may be even more important.
Combing and washing your dog is a good opportunity to start the bonding process. As you brush, be very careful and patient. Talk quietly to the dog and tell him how wonderful he is, but also spend some time feeling around and examining the skin and fur closely. Is it matted? Is the skin irritated? If you find lumps, inflammation or other problems, take the dog to the vet for treatment.
Tending to the dog’s physical health is important, but you also need to take his emotional needs into account. Give your dog time to adjust. Remember everything and everyone in your house is going to be completely foreign to him.
If you have other dogs, don’t trust the canines together alone for a while until everyone gets used to each other. You can use dog crates or baby gates to block off rooms while you aren’t around to supervise.
Feed the dogs separately and don’t let them share toys. Dogs can be extremely possessive about food or toys and "play fighting" can turn into real fighting quickly. (That’s an extra vet bill you really don’t want to have.)
Also realize that your dog has no loyalty to you yet and might try and run away. Be especially vigilant about keeping doors and gates closed. And always put the dog on a leash. Shelters are filled with "repeat offenders" that escaped from their new adoptive homes.
Be extremely careful with children and the new dog. Small children can do unexpected things and the new dog may not understand. Even a hug can seem threatening or frightening to a dog who is unaccustomed to it.
Give the dog a lot of time to settle in and adjust to all the new experiences in his environment. Don’t try to force the dog to be your best friend immediately. The dog has probably been under a lot of stress and it’s not fair to expect instant love. Sometimes dogs bond really quickly, but other dogs take a while to be convinced you are worthy of their affection. But if you prove yourself a patient, predictable, and fair human, your new dog will come around.