A note from your new SAVA'S SAFE HAVEN dog
I have finally found you! I have waited so long to be part of your family. However I will need your help during these first weeks, as I will no doubt be feeling sad and frightened. I have been at the shelter for many months/years.
I have just lost my home again. At the Sava's Safe Haven shelter I had got used to the smells, sounds, and the other dogs some of whom became my friends. I will also miss my care giver & the volunteers who spent time with me. I will now be in a new world and have different routines to learn. Some of my friends have never had a home. But, I can do this. This is my job for the first few weeks I am with you.
Please help me!
When I first arrive please do not let me out of my crate until I’m in a secure area, (preferably inside your house) as I may be very scared & want to escape!! The last thing I want is to get lost, so please ensure you let me out of my crate in a secure environment. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.
I will arrive with a microchip already inserted. It is imperative that you register this chip with your local authorities PRIOR to my arrival. In the unlikely event that I get lost, this will help you to find me quickly.
IMMEDIATELY upon my arrival at your home, please have my new collar waiting for me & please ensure it has a tag attached with your home phone number. If I get lost, this will ensure anyone who finds me can call you & we can be re-united as soon as possible. Make sure I have other required tags like a dog license or rabies tag.
Give me at least two weeks for us to get to know each other and for me to feel like I am truly at home. Please do not venture out with me on busy streets and areas with lots of dogs and people my first week. It might overwhelm me and I will get scared.
Picture me as an empty bucket. I am a bucket that holds stress. I added to the bucket with each of the changes I mentioned. It takes weeks for some of the stress hormones to leave my body. Add to all that stress, the fact that I was not socialized well as a puppy which means I may not have learned the necessary skills to adjust to new things. My bucket is already nearly full! If it overflows I might overreact to events and growl, snap, or bite. Please do not worry if I do not sleep in the new bed you gave me right away or want to go for walks. I have not had a bed and the new sounds might frighten me. And please do not yell at me or punish me in a negative way, as I might become more fearful. And if I chew on something I am not supposed to it is because I do not understand so give me something else to focus on and chew that is acceptable. Please help me progress but do not rush me or push me into doing things.
Let me briefly meet your other pets, one at a time.
Always try to introduce me to your other pets (for the first time) - somewhere away from your home. It is not a good idea to introduce me to your other pets in their home. They might get aggressive with me as it is their home first. A local park or similar would be a great place to introduce us. If I am nervous about them inside my new home, let me get used to them through a barrier like a baby gate. When I calm down, then let us be together with you right there to keep me safe.
Put me on a leash and show me around our home. Let me sniff and look. Let’s do this together without your other pets. Then they can come in the house.
I expect to be kept away from some areas of our home until I can show you that I can be trusted not to chew on your furniture or your clothes, or use the inside of our house as a toilet.
Don’t let me outside on my own or off leash!
I have lived at the shelter for a very long time & it will take me some time to realize that you are my new family & this is my new home. You can get a 20-foot leash: good for training the "come" command. When we go for walks, please don’t let me off the leash until we bond & I want to stay safely near you. Please don’t let me outside on my own because I don’t realize that the shelter isn’t just around the corner & I may be tempted to find it!
Give me a place that is all my own where I can rest in peace and know I am safe.
Please make a house rule that when I am in my “special place” no one is to bother me and other animals are to be kept away. I will appreciate it if you make my place comfortable and quiet, and give me something to do while I am there, like toys and something to chew. This would be a good place to feed me until I am comfortable around others in the family while I eat.
PLEASE DON’T CRATE ME! I am not used to being in such a confined space & crating is not something I’m likely to enjoy. Please allow me to settle into my surroundings without being crated. If you need to separate me, you can use a baby gate which is a healthier confinement alternative. Make sure that I can't get my head/paws caught in gate, can't chew through or knock down the gate or jump the gate.
Feed me what I am used to eating for a few weeks before gradually changing my diet.
The stress of changing homes again may make my tummy unhappy with new foods. At the shelter I got dry food which I’m used to. Of course a little tinned food mixed in will be a treat for me & I’m sure I’ll enjoy many more tasty foods as I gradually settle into my new diet. A healthy natural diet without a lot of chemicals and fillers is better for me.
Start right away with the routines I must follow.
Take me out to potty using the same door each time and taking me to the same spot outside. Do this often so that I can quickly learn where to go and so that I won’t have accidents in our house. But I might have one or two at the beginning. Start right away showing me house routines like where I will sleep at night and what I should do when you are eating dinner. Please tell me how good I am when I do what you want. I need positive reinforcement not negative reinforcement.
Show your children how to play politely with me and always be there to make sure we are being polite with each other.
Dogs like me who’ve grown up at the shelter, or spent time on the streets usually aren’t used to being around children. Closely supervise children around me at all times & don’t let children near me when I’m eating. Sometimes I can get too excited or too tired and forget my manners, just like children can.
Please supervise us both and separate us if either of us gets out of hand.
Let me stay home for the first two weeks I am here so that I do not have to meet new people and dogs, or deal with new places and activities.
I know you want to share me with family and friends, but that will have to wait. I first need to feel relaxed and fully at home with you, willing to engage with you, both when I want and when you want me to. Until then, please do nothing to add to my stress. If strangers of any age come to visit, please explain that they will have to leave me alone for now. And please tell your friends not to bring their head in front of my face or place their hand over my head. It might scare me. Once I can trust that I will remain safe, introductions to other people and animals should be done slowly, allowing me to make the choices about whether or not to interact.
When you do have to leave me at home please start doing it gradually so I get used to you being away from me, like maybe an hour then two.
If I am shy you may have to introduce me gradually to every new person, animal, and place with which I come in contact. People can gently toss small treats to me (I would suggest something yummy like small pieces of boiled chicken). You can tell children that I am like a stranger from another country who does not understand your language, doesn't know how you do things, needs help understanding the rules of this new place, and that you are teaching all of this to me. It will be a while before they can play with me. If I begin to show signs of stress, either quietly remove whatever triggered my behavior, or take me far enough away to allow me to relax. Please wait for me to do so. Stand quietly with me: do not pet me or try too hard to comfort me. I might misinterpret this as praise for acting frightened. Talking quietly to me and remaining calm will convey to me that all is well and that I can relax.
I also might suggest a flower-essence mixture called Rescue Remedy. Most pet stores carry this product.
Just a few drops a day may help me to relax. It is not a drug and is perfectly safe. It just has a calming effect. It was originally for people and now they have one for pets.
Vet Check Up
It is a good idea to take me to your veterinarian within the first couple of weeks to get me checked over. I have flown a long way and now in a different environment so I want to be a healthy dog. Please do not be surprised if your veterinarian finds something that Sava's Safe Haven did not.
Sava's Safe Haven is limited right now by what they can and cannot do with the clinic facilities that they have. Older dogs may have arthritis or skin issues or dental issues. Sava's will send a health certificate stating I am in good health and vaccinations are up to date when I leave.
Take me to a training class
And more importantly take me to a positive reinforcement training class that will not scare me or that use choke chain or pinch collars. I need to build trust and confidence. I don’t want to be scared anymore.
Be patient! Remember that I want to do what is right: I just don’t always know how.
If you have problems with my behavior, or you are unsure of anything, please ask for help.
With your help, I can do this! I can stay with you for the rest of my life.
Contact us if you need help!