What You Need To Know When You Bring Home A Rescue Dog

Whenever we decide to add members to our family, our daily lives need to change a little to accommodate them and help them to settle in. This is especially true when we are rehoming a dog, as they will likely have some personality quirks due to what they've been through - either in the previous life, or just because of the stress of moving home and joining a new family. Here are some tips to help you welcome your new pup as seamlessly as possible. 

  1. Try to meet them a few times before bringing them home
    Meeting your dog before taking them home with you can really help both of you. It will help your future pooch with learning to trust you, as well as give you a chance to get to know what their personality may be like. Most reputable rescue centres will be happy to set this up, as it will makethe rehoming process more likely to succeed. 

  2. Ask if you can do a scent swap a few days before the big day
    Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, and it can massively impact their emotions. If the rescue centre is happy to accommodate it, it's a great idea to put a worn, unwashed T-shirt into their kennel for a few days before they come home with you. This will smell of you, and allow them to get more familiar with your scent. It's also good to see if the rescue centre can give you a small piece of bedding or fabric that was in the kennel with them to take home, as this will give a small aspect of familiarity to their new home. 

  3. Take time off work to be with them
    Dogs need time to settle into a new home, and this is much easier for them to do if you are there with them. They are inherently social creatures, and most dogs benefit hugely from human companionship. By taking time out to stay with them in these early days, they're more likely to form a stable, secure attachment to you - meaning they'll be happier and more confident when the time comes for you to leave them for short periods.  

  4. Stick to their routine 
    If they have a routine established before they come to you, try to stick to it as much as possible for the first two weeks. This includes things like their usual sleep times and feeding times. If they were having walks every day, try doing something with them in the home at that time instead (see point six). Having that sense of predictability to their life will help to settle into their new home more quickly.

  5. Give them space 
    All dogs deserve to be able to take themselves off for some downtime whenever they like. When a dog is new, this is even more important as they will need some time to process and take everything in. Make sure that you don't follow them around all the time, and you shouldn't approach them - especially if they're sleeping. If they want to engage with you for play or for affection, they will approach you when they're ready. This will also build up their trust in you, setting the foundations for a wonderful relationship going forwards. 

  6. Don't take them for walks
    One of the biggest mistakes new owners of rescue dogs do is take them for walks in the first few days. Your new dog will likely already be stressed by the rehoming process, and will be trying their hardest to familiarise themselves with their new home. Introducing more novelty, such as new walking routes, new people and dogs that you may run into, and their new collar, harness, and lead, means they're much more likely to feel overwhelmed and become fearful of their new environment. It's a much better idea to spend the time exploring your garden together, or playing games in the home. Try hiding some treats around your house to get them to explore this area first and become more comfortable with you. Ideally, your first walk will be around 2 weeks after they come home with you. 

  7. Limit your expectations
    Moving home is an incredibly stressful time for a dog, and this means they're not going to be your best friend straight away. If they had learned certain tricks or habits before, they may have a hard time remembering them in their new home. It's important that you're patient with them, and understand that they may not do everything you ask straight away. This doesn't make them a bad dog, they're just trying to get to grips with everything.

  8. Focus on bonding with them 
    The first few weeks with a new dog are going to really set you up for a good relatonship if you do it well. Instead of focusing on telling them what they can and can't do, try to make every interaction you have with them positive. If there is anything you want to avoid them doing, such as chewing the furniture, structure your house to avoid them doing this in the first place as it will avoid the temptation to tell them off for it. Try using baby gates to cordon off certain areas, and make sure you have lots of chews and toys to encourage natural behaviour in an appropriate way. It's also a good idea to look into bonding exercises you can do with your dog to build up a foundation of trust. 

  9. Expect them to change 
    We already know that dogs can become really stressed by moving home, and this can mean they may not show their true selves for the first few months. It's very common for new dogs to retreat into themselves to start off with, and not show the true extent of what their personality is. If they have any behavioural issues, these may not come to light for the first few months whilst they settle in, and then they may appear once they're more comfortable with their surroundings. This doesn't mean you're doing it wrong or not looking after them - it is totally normal. It should be celebrated as, whilst it may mean you need to give them extra support, it means you've done a good job of helping them to feel safe and at home! 

  10. Enjoy them! 
    It's easy to get overwhelmed with a new dog, especially at the times when things inevitably go wrong and you're not sure what to do. But you can get through it together. You're a team now, and it will get easier. Find the things that you can do together that bring you joy, and take pleasure from having a new furry best friend. 


If you've welcomed or are expecting to welcome a new rescue pup, we'd love to hear from you! Drop a comment below or email us at woof@yourdogsclub.co.uk. We can help you to settle them in, pick out the best food for them, or we'd just love to hear your story! 

Written by Alyssa Ralph MSc BSc(Hons), Holistic Pet Services


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