In my previous post, I described the process of getting out rescue dog Forest from Hungary and how it all works. Now I want to talk about her!
The First Day
When we first got Forest home, she was understandably very nervous. She had a look around the kitchen and living room, then climbed onto the sofa and made herself look as small as possible. We left her for a bit and then sat on the other side of the sofa. After a while, she ran across, tucked herself under my arm, and stayed there most of the night. She spent a while hiding her head in the sofa cushions as well. We tried to feed her and she accepted some chicken, but turned her nose up at brown rice. The compromise was hot buttered toast!
For the first three nights, Forest slept in the kitchen as we weren’t sure if she was toilet trained or destructive. She was luckily an absolute angel and very well toilet trained. When we came down on the first morning, she had curled into the tiniest ball imaginable and hid in the tiny gap between the shelves and the wall, it broke my heart a bit (despite having her own comfy bed less than a metre away).
The First Week
We walked her on the second day as it became apparent she didn’t like the garden. She walked happily to the park, a bit nervous, but we coaxed her along when she looked scared. When I stopped to tie up my shoelace, she tried to hide under a bench and curl herself up again, and later we thought she had stopped to sniff but was actually flattening the grass to make herself a sort of nest.
She met the cats on her second day, and they definitely looked more shocked than her. She loves them and just wants to play with them and be friends. They tolerate her.
On the third day, we took her to Chatsworth for some new smells and to see what she thought of the car. She looked worried in the car but really enjoyed Chatsworth and even rolled in some duck poo (lovely!).
It took her just under a week to get comfortable with the long lead and also to be happy off the lead in the garden.
We also took her to Pets at Home in the first week, where she enjoyed everything except the sliding doors. She especially liked going under the shelves to pick up dropped treats!
We took her to the vets around a week after we got her just to check she was okay and see what they had to say really! They tried to claim she needed a foreign dog blood test, but this is already done by Wags n Wet Noses so was totally unnecessary. This definitely reassured me that they are really looked after and thoroughly tested before entering the UK. It’s also obvious many aren’t, so expect the vets to be pessimistic!
The First Month
On the 10th day, we took Forest to a secure field for a run and to also work on her recall a bit, as well as getting her used to more new things. This is the day her carsickness started, and we now know not to feed her in the morning if we are going somewhere!
Since then, she has also visited many cafes (for takeaway!) and been to most of the major parks in Sheffield as well as a lot of the Peak District. She seems tireless and can be walked for 12 miles quite happily, but would also happily stay in bed for an hour.
We also noticed around 2-3 weeks in that she has a rather stubborn streak and will sit and refuse to walk if she wants to. She also doesn’t like it if we turn around or go a different way. Luckily she is light enough to be picked up and carried!
It was around the one month mark where her personality and playfulness really started to shine through. She is really just a big puppy! When the alarm goes off in the morning, she will pounce on the bed and is so excited for attention. (She sleeps at the foot of the bed in her own bed, which she finally uses) though would rather lay sprawled on the floor like she’s been shot. She also started to be interested in squeaky toys and started stealing other things – toilet rolls, shoes, paper etc. She would still prefer to chew paper and plastic than real toys!
We also had a dog walker/sitter come to visit after a month. This was the first person who’d actually been into our house to meet her, and Forest was very nervous. We all sat on the sofa and Forest sat by our feet, slightly guarding us and trying to get reassurance. She sniffed the woman’s hands and laid next to her on the sofa, but tried to do a small nip when the woman pushed it and tried to stroke her foot. Forest then tried to steal the woman’s checklist – mixed messages!
Things that have been easier than expected
The biggest unexpected bonus is that she is toilet trained. She also got used to us incredibly quickly and settled in a lot faster than we’d dared to hope. I never thought we’d be taking her out to the Peak District on her first weekend but it went so well!
We also taught her to sit, lie down and stand up in the first month. We have started teaching wait and roll over.
Things that have been harder than expected
Of course, rescuing a dog isn’t all easy. A few days in, I gave Forest a bone then tried to take it away because I could see blood on it. She tried to snap at me to warn me away, then got a bit scared and started guarding the bed – not letting me pick things up and looking very worried. I just left her and now know not to do this! We can take toys and anything else off her very easily, and just know that if it’s something she really wants we have to swap it with a nice treat!
The nipping is gentle but we don’t want it to get any worse, so we have contacted a 1-1 dog trainer to work on this, along with the dog sitter coming back to walk her and try to form a bond.
Do you have a rescue dog? Please let me know your favourite training resources/tips below!