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Rehoming a Nervous Dog

Written by FOTP Team


rough collie looking up

Practical Steps When Rehoming a Nervous Dog

Anxiety is a feeling humans and dogs share. For dogs, big moves are among the most anxiety-inducing of all experiences. If your pet is a rescue or hasn't been properly accustomed to changes, they may find the anxiety of moving even more severe. However, you can successfully rehome your nervous dog. It just takes a little knowledge and faith in your companion.

A lot of things happen in the first few weeks of a puppy's life. These critical days give young animals their first opportunities to learn dog-on-dog etiquette. The socializing an animal does with its mother and littermates forms the foundation of its relationships with other canines.

If you've obtained your new pet from a breeder, you should make sure you know as much as possible about their background. Was he exposed to normal household sounds? Was she given playtime in the yard? Any bit of information can help you ease the rehoming process.

Bringing Home Rescue Pets

Rescue pets are different from those obtained from breeders. Sanctuaries often know little about an animal's background, and many don’t have time or funding to do more than a few essential behavioral tests before allowing them to leave with a new owner. Try to get as much information as possible about your rescue. If they're older than eight weeks, assume you'll be taking on the burden of providing socialization and adjustment yourself for this nervous dog.

Patience is the key virtue of a rescue owner. Older animals adjust much more slowly to new situations than puppies, so focus on consistency and positive reinforcement.

Transferring Owners

Moving your pet to live with someone else is highly traumatic. Sometimes, life circumstances make it necessary to transfer ownership of your canine friend, but you shouldn't take this process lightly. They will mourn their loss for weeks or even months.

Sometimes, trust issues last a lifetime. For these difficult situations, helping the animal adjust is even more critical.

Rehoming isn't easy for any dog. Whether you're changing households, moving in with a family member, or bringing a new pet into your life, you should try to make the transition as comfortable as possible.

Let Them Exercise

Allowing for exercise and movement are the best ways to let your pet dispel anxiety. Anxiety is a natural response that prepares your pet to escape danger. When you let them run free in the yard or at home, they use up their pent-up energy.

Pet Them Reassuringly

Some trainers advise against petting animals when they get nervous. The logic behind this advice is that you shouldn't reward hiding or other anxiety-related behavior.

This is good advice when your pet engages in the same habitual behavior many times, but it isn't applicable during rehoming. When you pet your dog during a scary transition, you provide them with the same comfort you would give a friend or relative.

Bring a Trusted Friend

Wolves are more comfortable roaming around with big packs than little ones. Pets are no different. The more trusted humans you can bring on your move, the more confident and relaxed your buddy will feel. Once they've started to settle in, you can scale back the group activities.

Play Classical Music

Since we can't talk to our canine companions, it's hard to say if they enjoy our music. Reputable research studies, however, suggest classical music is most likely to calm a nervous dog.

Give Them Space

If you've just rescued your pet, you shouldn't try to establish your relationship all at once. The canine-human bond requires trust and space. You can think of your pet as a furry human friend. You wouldn't try to put your hands on a person you just met, so it's best to assume the same etiquette applies to your dog. Let them come to you if they desire your attention.

After a move, it's often a good idea to have a designated safe space where your pup can go rest when overwhelmed. A padded area under a desk can simulate the protection a cave would offer in a more natural environment. Make sure everyone in the house (especially younger children) understand the new dog is not to be disturbed whilst they’re in their safe space. 

Canines are creatures of habit. Big disruptions, therefore, can cause a lot of consternation. Since a move is perhaps the biggest disruption of all, you should let your pet wander around on their own terms. Don't force them to meet any other human or animal inhabitants until they're ready.

Just like people, canines need to eat good food and drink sufficient water to feel right. A rough transition is a poor time to skimp on food expenses. Offer plenty of high-quality food and treats to help your pup develop a positive association with their new environment.

Don't be too concerned if they don't eat food enthusiastically for the first few days. Anxiety can quickly inhibit hunger. Sometimes, worrying canines prefer to take food away from the company of people, so you should leave them alone with their food if they seem uncomfortable.

Canids are often very receptive to anxiety supplements/products/harmony. Even the best-fed pups often miss out on critical fats, carbohydrates, and vitamins they would easily acquire in nature. This can cause undue anxiety and stress.

The best supplements use real ingredients based on modern science. Nootropics and adaptogens like ashwagandha and L-theanine are strongly supported by human subject studies and are perfectly safe for your pooch. Rather than working like drugs, these ingredients simply give your pet what they need to feel calm and in control.

If you've been looking for ways to deal with intractable behavioral and health issues, pet supplements can help. At Front Of The Pack, we design our formulas based on real science using the finest available ingredients. We believe your beloved pet deserves to eat well just as much as you do. Our joint stability, gut health, and nervous dog formulas can boost your favorite companion's well-being.