First of all, thank you for thinking about adopting a rescue dog instead of buying a new puppy. There are so many beautiful animals out there who are homeless through no fault of their own. Most of them have the potential to become amazing furry friends – even if they do need a little bit of help and training to adapt to their new lifestyle.
Here are my top ten tips for adopting a rescue dog
- Don’t rush into a decision. Most of the rescue homes are very experienced and very good at matching dogs with new homes. So visit several homes if you can and talk to the people who have worked with the dogs. You need to find out about their little character quirks…the cuddly ones AND the ones that are not so cute. Then make an informed decision. The right rescue dog for you is out there but you might not find him or her straight away.
- Don’t be surprised if you fall in love with a dog who is nothing like the one you thought you wanted. Trust your instincts on this one. Looks aren’t everything when it comes to choosing a dog.
- Be prepared to spend time training and socialising your new dog. Perhaps book a couple of days off work so that you can observe and get to know him.
- You may not be lucky enough to have lots of information about the dog’s past. He will know nothing about your lifestyle or expectations. You each have lots to learn about each other. Kennel staff can give you some insights into his likes and dislikes but kennel life is not the same as home life and he may behave in unexpected ways. Keep an open mind and be patient.
- Before bringing your dog home, create an area in your home that the dog can retreat to if he wants to. Somewhere he will call his own. A suitably sized dog crate is ideal. Perhaps give him a blanket that he can sleep on at the dogs’ home for a couple of days and then bring home with him to make him feel secure.
- If you want to change his diet or feeding times from what he had at the kennels to what fits best with your lifestyle, do it gradually over the course of a week or more. Sudden changes could cause stress or tummy upsets.
- Introduce him very gradually to other pets and don’t leave him unsupervised with other animals until you are 100% confident he can be polite to them.
- Start training him as soon as possible. He needs to know that there’s no need to jump on visitors, bark at the postman or panic if left alone for a short while. Because he’s safe in his new home and he can relax.
- Don’t overwhelm him by inviting all your friends and relatives round at the same time. The arrival of a new family member is exciting for people but it be worrisome for the dog. He needs to meet his new family but it would be better to restrict visitors to one or two at a time. If he’s nervous of strangers, ask your visitors to ignore him at first. He’ll let you know when he’s ready to greet them.
- If you are adopting a rescue dog who is already an adult don’t assume that he will be 100% housetrained from day 1 or that he or she will settle straight away. You may need to start at the beginning as if he were a young puppy. That’s not a negative. Training and socialising a dog is a fabulous way to build a strong bond between you and you’ll feel fantastic every time you discover something new about him. If he already responds to basic commands, think about joining an adult dog training class to help him make the most of his brilliant brain.
Every dog brings new experiences for the owners
No two dogs are the same. Each of my shelties has a very different character and needs different ways of motivation. I consider myself an experienced dog owner and even though I have studied dog behaviour in great detail, I still get surprises.
When you buy a new puppy or adopt a rescue dog, you will come across new challenges. That’s natural, and for me, it’s one of the joys of living and working with dogs. It helps though, to have someone on hand to offer impartial advice and help you to build a strong bond with your dog (or dogs).
CK9 offer rescue dog home visits in the Croydon, Caterham, Epsom, Horsham and Sutton areas. One of our dog behavioural experts will visit you in your home to help tackle any worries you have about your new pet. We can explain how dogs learn and offer practical solutions for any problems.
Typical topics are:
- How to manage separation anxiety
- Making sure your dog is happy and relaxed around new people and other dogs
- Stopping any existing bad habits such as jumping up, emptying bins, inappropriate chewing, pulling on the lead, chasing cyclists, barking at visitors
- Ongoing training to keep your dog’s mind active and keep him out of mischief
Book a rescue dog home visit: https://www.ck9training.co.uk/adult-dog-services/rescue-dog-home-visits/
More articles about living with dogs
Building a close relationship between you and your dog https://www.ck9training.co.uk/blog/close-working-relationship-between-dog-and-owner/
Making dog walking into a great experience for everyone https://www.ck9training.co.uk/blog/making-dog-walks-fun-for-all/