Advice for Bringing Home a Rescue Dog
Bringing home a rescue dog? No doubt, you want advice on how best to help your new pup feel safe, secure, and happy. Dog-proofing your house, providing a safe space to get away, and putting aside lots of time to play can help. The adjustment period may take some time, but with a little preparation, you can ensure everything goes smoothly and peacefully.
Help Your Dog Be Safe and Secure
You want your new dog to be as safe and secure as possible. That's why you should schedule a vet appointment to get vaccinations and a microchip. Don't forget to register the microchip online and keep the number on your phone, just in case your pup ever escapes. Get a collar, leash, and ID tag with your contact information.
You can make sure your yard is ready by checking for any holes in the fence where your dog could escape and treating your yard for fleas.
You also want to "dog-proof" your house before you bring your pup home.1 Put away small things your dog might chew on and keep electrical cords out of reach. Make sure you don't have any plants that are poisonous to your dog in your home or yard and lock up any cleaning supplies or food that could be toxic to your pet.
Stock Up on All the Basics
Stock up on all the basics before you bring your rescue dog home, including food and water bowls, beds, and toys. A Coolin' Bowl is great if your dog's outside in the warm months and a Thermal-Bowl is perfect for the winter. For indoors, why not get a CleanFlow Filtered Water Bowl? This bowl removes impurities and filters water up to 130 times an hour.
Get a carrier that buckles into your seatbelt for car rides, like when you're going to the vet or on an outdoor adventure. The Buckle n' Go Pet Seat comes in two sizes to support dogs of all kinds, and the K&H Backpack Pet Carrier can be used to buckle your dog safely in the seat, and it doubles as a backpack.
Of course, age-appropriate items should also be on hand, such as puppy pads for house training, or dog-sized stairs for an older pet to climb onto your couch or bed. Don't forget to keep a bunch of chew toys on hand, as well as treats for when he's being a good boy.
Give Your Dog a Quiet Spot
Some rescue dogs may need a quiet place to call their own. Give your pup a separate room or space where she can hide if the new sights and sounds are too overwhelming. Your dog might be pretty nervous at first, and that's okay. If she wants to stay in her bed and be quiet for a few days, don't take it personally. She just needs time to adjust.
A snuggly bed in her room can help her feel safe and comfy. The Self-Warming Lounge Sleeper or the Superior Orthopedic Bed are great options. A Coolin' Comfort Bed is the perfect choice for older pups with some aches and pains. In some situations, a crate is even better and can make your dog feel extra safe. Be sure to put a Deluxe Bolster Crate Pad inside for comfort.
Remember the Environment Your Dog Left
Your pup's past can influence how he acts today. Rescue dogs might have lived in noisy kennels for weeks. Some may have had a previous owner who got sick or gave them up. Others might have been on the streets as a stray until a rescue organization saved them. Whatever the situation, it can be helpful to remember where your pup came from and how it might impact his current behavior.
If he came from a crowded kennel, for example, you might want to start him out in a smaller room and slowly expand his access to the home, so he doesn't get overwhelmed. If he lived as a stray, he might be a little food assertive at first. A dog who lost a previous owner might show signs of sadness or depression. Talk to a veterinarian or a dog trainer if you have questions.
Introducing Your New Dog to Your Pets
Introducing your rescue dog to your current pets takes time. When you first bring your new pup home, consider taking your other dogs for a walk while your new dog explores the house.2 If you can, let two dogs meet in a neutral place, like a park.
If this isn't possible, put your new dog in a crate when it's time to introduce him.3 After your two dogs have had time to sniff each other through the crate for most of the day, they may get along just fine. Next, let them interact on collars and leashes while you watch closely. Give them lots of treats.
Introducing your new dog to your cat might be a little more complicated. Make sure your cat has a dog-free area to call her own. Keep your dog on a leash when they first meet. When he gets too focused on your cat, redirect his attention with treats. You can find more tips on how to introduce your dog and cat here.
Keep a Routine that Includes Exercise
New dogs benefit greatly from a routine and boundaries. Having their food at the same time every day helps them feel secure. And a dog whose pent-up energy is spent on mental and physical exercises will be less nervous.
Take your dog for walks outside and play games together, like fetch. Give your dog interactive toys for indoor play. You might even want to add obedience training to your regular routine. All that time together is great for bonding.
Bringing a rescue dog home is a wonderful and rewarding experience. Just remember, it can take up to three months for your new best friend to be completely comfortable at home, depending on her background.4 Just have patience, a good routine, and schedule lots of time for play and adventures. You'll be glad you did.
- Williams, Meredith Hooker. "Tips to Help Welcome Your Rescue Dog Home." Vetstreet, 4 August 2016, http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/tips-to-help-welcome-your-rescue-dog-home.
- RSCPA. "How Should I Introduce My New Dog to My Existing Dog?" Kb.RSPCA.org.au, https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/how-should-i-introduce-my-new-dog-to-my-existing-dog/.
- Austin Boxer Rescue. "Introducing Your New Dog to Your Pack." AustinBoxerRescue.com, 1 May 2019, https://austinboxerrescue.com/introducing-your-new-dog-to-your-pack/.
- McKee, Debi. "Bringing Home a Rescue Dog and the 3-3-3 Rule." RescueDogs101.com, https://www.rescuedogs101.com/bringing-new-dog-home-3-3-3-rule/.