I also adopted one of our foster dogs, the beautiful Nala, and I'd like to share a few quick points from my own experience (very recent and old alike) that will help you help your rescue get along nicely for the near future and beyond, so you don't have a Jerry Maguire level meltdown.
- First impressions count: The way we meet a dog is important. Were we respectful of their space, were they respectful of ours? They can tell a lot about us and we can tell a lot about them in the first few moments we meet each other. Even though the first moment is gone, you still have a fresh relationship and you can have a large impact on where the relationship is headed. Will it be a relationship based upon heat (in the dog world that is hugs, kisses and cuddles) or will it be a relationship that is built upon trust, respect and love.
- Your dog isn't perfect: Even if you thought he was, he probably has a hang up or two or an area that needs improvement. Some you were probably warned about and some are probably an unpleasant surprise. Don't sweat it too much though, we can work on those things (and you absolutely should ASAP). Keep in mind also, your rescue dog came pre-loaded with a lot of good habits as well so appreciate those even when you find something that might need a little work.
- Training starts on day 1: Actually, make that minute 1. Most people think that "training" is a class you take for 6 weeks and then you're done. While classes are beneficial, they really exist to help build your tool set of behaviors. In reality, we are constantly shaping and forming our dog's behaviors so remember that from the beginning. Do you want your dog jumping on you, near your dinner table, in your bed, etc? If not, make sure to reward them with your affection and food when they approach you and sit, when they sit on their place away from the dinner table or when they sleep in their spot peacefully. Guide them to the behaviors you want and never get frustrated when they get confused.
- Keep the love alive: Like all relationships, the honeymoon period will subside. Instead of just going where the wind blows, set up a schedule and plan that makes sure both of you guys are being fulfilled by the relationship. Make waking up before work for a walk part of your daily routine. Set up a 10 or 20 minute block a day for training the basics. Join a dog social group. Once you make it your routine, you and your new dog will have a wonderful lifelong relationship that may just change you as a person forever.
If you're one of the awesome folks who saved a dog, please feel free to contact me if you have any training questions. Good luck!