Adopting a rescue dog can be a hugely rewarding experience. Here are some ways you can prepare for your new arrival.
It’s a sobering fact that thousands of dogs end up in rehoming shelters every year. So giving a homeless dog the chance of their own home is a heart-warming choice. However, these dogs may be suffering from emotional upheaval and distress, so may be more difficult to manage initially.
Here are some tips on how to prepare for adopting your new rescue dog:
1. Choose the right dog for your lifestyle
Before choosing your rescue dog, it’s vital to do some research on which breed will be right for you, your family and your lifestyle.
For example, you might love greyhounds, but they typically need at least an hour of exercise a day – would you be able to offer that?
Likewise, some breeds may be cuddly and affectionate, but they can’t be left alone for too long. You may also find that your chosen breed tends to be overly nervous, and may not be suited to young, boisterous children.
Older vs younger dogs
Older dogs are likely to be well-trained already, so while they may not be as playful as puppies, you’ll save time training them. If you’re adopting an untrained puppy, you can read our top tips and tricks for training puppies.
2. Prepare for a home visit
Before you’ve been officially accepted by the rehoming centre to adopt a rescue dog, the charity will carry out a home visit to make sure your property is suitable for your chosen pup.
They’ll typically want to make sure you have a secure garden – so your dog can’t escape – and a warm, comfortable place for them to sleep inside the house.
They can also give you advice about caring for your new pet, to help make the transition as smooth as possible for both of you.
3. Create a safe space at home
Dogs’ personalities can vary widely, depending on their age, breed and how they’re been looked after before reaching you.
Some dogs will be highly energetic and may try to escape, so you’ll have to make sure your garden and home is adequately secured with fences and walls to keep your dog from bolting when the chance arises.
They’ll also try to eat and chew almost everything they come across, including your favourite shoes. Make sure to puppy-proof your house and keep anything you don’t want chomped out of reach. That should include anything that could harm your dog – such as cleaning products or garden chemicals.
Cosy and safe
Dogs are usually affectionate and sociable creatures, so make sure they can cosy up in bed somewhere near you and your family. Loneliness can lead to crying, yelping and anxious behaviour.
4. Make sure you have the essentials
You’ll need to make sure you have everything they’ll need before you bring him or her home:
A doggie carrier, seatbelt or barrier: It’s important to think about how you’re going to bring them home on that first day. It’s unsafe for him or her not to be strapped into the car safely.
All paperwork: Try to get as much info from their shelter as possible, including their vaccination records.
The right food: Check with the shelter what kind of food they’ve been eating. A change to their diet could upset his or her stomach.
Their own bed: This should be away from drafts and warm, but still adequately ventilated.
Their favourite toys or blankets: These should help them to settle in to their new home more easily.
Bowls for their food and water: Especially if there are other animals in the home.
Leash and collar
With your name and address (including postcode) on the collar – this is a legal requirement for all dogs in the UK when they’re out in public.
5. Be patient
Once you’ve brought them home, don’t rush them. Show them first where their food, water and toilet area all are.
It may be tempting, but don’t overcrowd them with cuddles. Give them enough affection that they know they’re loved but give them the space they need to acclimatise to their new home.
Try to hold off inviting too many people around to meet them in the first couple of weeks. This can overwhelm him or her and exacerbate any existing problems he or she may have with social interaction.
6. Keep an eye on their eating habits
Don’t be too concerned if your dog doesn’t eat much to begin with, but just keep an eye on how much they’re eating and take them to the vet if you’re at all concerned.
As they start to adapt to their new surroundings, they’ll begin to feel more comfortable and their appetite should gradually return.
This may be more common with older dogs, as puppies find it easier to settle in to new surroundings and they’re always hungry.
7. Build up trust with your family member
Rescue dogs have sometimes had difficult lives before they meet their new, loving owners, so it may take some time before they fully trust you. Be patient and show them you’re their friend, and they’ll soon warm to you.
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