You’ve decided to rescue a dog! Good choice! Now you need to prepare yourself and your home for your new family member. Below I have complied what I have found is really important when rescuing a dog, from what to get ready before to their first day at home.
- Good quality collar and lead. You should be able to get neck measurements from the rescue centre. You may want a harness or headcollar as well, the rescue centre should be able to advise you on how they walk currently.
- Identification tag, check out the legal requirements of what should be written on the tag. Neville wears a tag from Wag-A-Tude.
- Food and water bowls.
- A selection of different types of toys.
- A selection of different types of treats.
- Poo bags.
- Cleaning supplies.
- A comfy bed, with a crate if you are wanting to crate train.
- Find out how you are going to travel with your dog, do you need a boot guard or lead which plugs into the seat belt? This will be essential for bringing them home.
Prepare your home
Set up where you are going have their bowls. Decide where you are going to keep their bed, are they going to sleep in their crate? Decide on house rules now, we decided Neville should sleep downstairs in the living room in his crate initially until we trusted him out of his crate. Dog proof the house, you may need baby gates to block off certain areas if needed. I brought some shelving to raise Dobby the hamster off the ground as I wasn’t sure how Neville would react to him.
It is important to continue feeding the same diet that the rescue centre is currently feeding your dog to prevent any upset tummies in those first few days. You can always change their diet later once the initial stress has calmed. The rescue centre fed Neville a canned diet but I knew I wanted to feed him a dry kibble, so I gradually changed his food over after a month.
Insurance and vets
I can’t stress how important pet insurance is. Working as a veterinary nurse has shown me just how much of a difference having insurance can make. Some veterinary practices offer one month free cover, but this must be carried on, a lifetime policy is best. Neville is insured with PetPlan. Check out the different veterinary practices in your area, see if you can have a tour around the practice to see the facilities and meet the staff. Find out what they offer, quite a few offer preventative health care plans now. Book in for a general health check for once your new dog has settled, to make sure they are up to date with their vaccinations and they are healthy.
On their first day
Bring your new dog straight home, ideally have two people to bring home, one to drive and one to monitor your new family member. Have some old towels ready in case there are any accidents during the journey.
Allow your new dog to explore their new home and take them outside regularly to go toilet. Although they may be ‘house trained’, dogs don’t generalise as well as humans, coupled with this new stressful situation, they will need a refresher. Neville had a few accidents to start with before he started to settle. It’s important not to stress or get angry if they have an accident. Go at their pace, if they want to rest allow them this time to unwind and de-stress.
Allow your new dog to meet any other dogs on neutral ground with no food or toys, this will reduce the chances of fights for resources. Never leave the dogs alone together until you know it is safe to do so, this could take several weeks.
Rescue dogs are more likely to develop separation anxiety, since they have already been abandoned they often form such strong attachments to their humans they can’t bear to be without them for fear of being abandoned again. To reduce this don’t allow your dog to follow you absolutely everywhere. Start getting them used to you leaving the room and coming back shortly, starting on the first day. Build up the amount of time you are out the room for, several sessions a day. Don’t make a big fuss when leaving and give them something to distract them while you are away like a frozen kong treat.
I would advise to enroll in a dog training class. It is important to find the right class for you, there should be a good mix of learning new ‘commands’ and fun games with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. This will help keep you relaxed, which is important during training, and help build your relationship. Training can be both physical and mentally tiring. Training is not just about ‘tricks’ but building the base of how to be a dog in your house. Positive reinforcement should be used, treating and praising the correct behaviour.
Finally, building a relationship will take time. It will be a stressful time for both of you, but it is important to remember to be patient, don’t shout, scare or force behaviour. Learn to read their body language so you can gauge when enough is enough. Be proactive, rather than reactive. By preventing inappropriate behaviour in the first place, you wont have to try and correct it later.
It will take a long time for your dogs true personality to show, Neville initially took several months and even now he is still showing new parts to his personality over a year after bringing into my life.
Have you got a top tip for bringing home a new dog?
Love Beth & Neville x
*I am not a dog behaviourist, I am just sharing what I have found to work when rescuing and through my work in the veterinary sector
Beth & Neville xx