Essential Tips for Welcoming a Rescue Dog into Your Home

Bringing a new rescue dog into your home is a meaningful experience, filled with excitement and anticipation. Whether you’ve chosen to adopt from a shelter or rescue organization, it’s important to understand the unique needs and adjustments involved in giving these dogs a second chance at a loving home. Here are some essential tips for making the transition smooth and enjoyable for both you and your new furry friend.

Jack russel enjoying the sunshine

Understanding the Difference:

Unlike buying a dog from a breeder, rescues come with their own set of experiences and challenges. While breeders offer brand new puppies, rescue dogs are often seeking a fresh start after facing instability in their lives. It’s crucial to recognise this distinction and approach the adoption process with empathy and patience.

Creating a Welcoming Environment:

Once you bring your rescue dog home, focus on creating a welcoming and comfortable environment for them. Show them where to toilet outside, hand feed all meals as a bonding gesture, and provide enrichment activities such as Kongs and simple command training to keep them engaged.

Introducing a Safe Space:

Crates can serve as perfect safe spaces for rescue dogs, especially if they’ve been accustomed to them in their previous foster care or rescue home. Ensure their bed or crate is cosy and inviting, giving them a sense of security in their new surroundings. Tip: Use flat bedding such as these as too many blankets can create overheating and uneven sleeping.

owners enjoying the company of their dog

Observing Behaviour:

Pay close attention to your new dog’s body language and behaviour during the initial days and weeks at home. This will help you understand their needs and preferences, allowing for a smoother adjustment period. Example: stiffness and lip licking can be signs of being uncomfortable when being overwhelmed with pats.

Managing Accidents:

Accidents may happen, especially during the initial adjustment phase. Take your dog out frequently to toilet, particularly overnight, and reward them with praise or treats for outdoor toileting. This helps reinforce positive behaviour and encourages outdoor toileting habits.

Keeping Things Low-Key:

The first day at home should be low-key to allow your dog to settle in comfortably. In the following days, engage in bonding activities like play games and puzzle games to build trust and distract from any anxiety-related behaviours. Fact: It takes about 3 months for a new rescue to settle, so keep these months low key and time for bonding rather than lots of outings.

Understanding Changes:

Recognise that your rescue dog is undergoing significant changes, including new surroundings, routines, and possibly interactions with other pets. Be patient and understanding as they adapt at their own pace.

Staffy cross in a red bow tie in a photoshoot

Signs to Watch For:

Be mindful of signs that indicate stress or discomfort in your dog, such as toileting indoors, destructive behaviours, hiding, or food refusal. These behaviours may be temporary and can improve with time and positive reinforcement.

Positive Reinforcement:

Encourage positive experiences by letting your dog explore their new environment at their own pace, offering toys, and engaging in basic skill training with treats as rewards.

Gathering Information:

Obtain as much information as possible about your rescue dog’s background, including any health issues, behavioural problems, and previous exposure to various stimuli. This knowledge will help you provide the best possible care and support for your new furry companion.

By following these tips and approaching the adoption process with patience and understanding, you can ensure a smooth transition and a fulfilling bond with your rescue dog. Remember, each dog is unique, so allow them the time and space they need to adjust to their new home and family.

If you need help with any stage in your journey of adopting a dog, call Emilia on 0403 433 399 or get in touch with an online inquiry by clicking here 


Written by Emilia Borkowski 07/03/24

Images from Unslpash credited to Belinda Fewings, Chewy and Michael G.


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