Of approximately 8.5 million dogs in the UK, 110,000 need re-homing at any one time. Adopting a dog requires a lot of preparation, patience and perseverance. It is vital to ensure rescue dogs are supported in adapting to their new and loving home and that this process is as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Key points to consider
Is it the right time? A routine and settled environment is important for an animal coming into a new household.
Big changes in your daily life or routine – such as moving house, having a baby or starting a new job, can be stressful and may impact on your ability to give your full attention to the arrival of a new animal.
What type of dog is right for you
It is important not to rush into making decisions when considering your new pet. If there is not a suitable animal for you when you visit a re-homing centre, it is far better to wait rather than taking an unsuitable new pet home.
Consider how much exercise different dogs require and whether it suits your lifestyle.
Consider your home environment and which dog may suit it best, e.g. whether you have small children, other animals, etc.
We offer a pre-purchase consultation, where we can talk you through which dogs are the most suitable for you and your family. Or you can visit your local rescue centre.
Preparing your home
To make it easier for you and your dog to settle into your new lives together, some forward planning is required. It is also important to discuss the new arrival with all members of the household, especially explaining to children that it is important to allow the dog to settle and to avoid excitement.
- Food – the rescue centre can advise you of the current diet that your new dog is eating. It is advisable to stick to this diet for the first couple of weeks to avoid tummy upsets. Treats are a good idea, used as rewards when teaching new behaviours. Be careful not to overfeed with food or rewards. Your new dog should be fed in a quiet area and away from the distraction of children or other pets. Once your dog is settled, visit us for advice on long term feeding.
- A space of their own – it is important to provide your pet with a place of their own where they can feel safe. This should be where they will sleep or go to for some quiet time. A dog crate is a good way to create this space and is often accepted well. These are available to buy from reception.
- Provisions – several items are advisable to have purchased prior to the arrival of your new dog. These include a lead, collar, poo bags, dog bed, toys, etc. Rubber Kongs provide great toys and can provide a useful distraction or source of entertainment. Most of these items are included in our crate deals, ask for details at reception.
- Garden – we recommend that your garden is made pet safe prior to your new dog’s arrival. You can do this by ensuring there is secure fencing that they are unable to dig under or jump over.
- Insurance – pet insurance is highly recommended and is something to take time researching and considering. Insurance for your animal provides reassurance that if anything was to happen to your pet or they were to experience ill health, the best possible health care can be provided without financial concerns. It is important to fully understand what different policies offer. For example what they will pay out, the excess you are required to pay and the length of cover per condition that they provide. We have a leaflet entitled ‘All about pet insurance’ insurance available in reception. Please ask next time you visit.
What to expect on arrival
Make sure you have visited your new dog several times and got to know him/her so you can ensure that you are suited to each other. Often dogs are scared and frightened of new environments and can also experience travel sickness on the way home.
When you arrive home, allow your dog to explore its new surroundings:
- The garden
- Food bowls
- Their bed
Their safe place – if using a crate, it may be an idea to initially feed your dog in the crate for the first few weeks. Don’t shut the crate doors until your dog begins to see it as their safe place. Feed a light meal on the first night and don’t fuss your new dog too much. Allow them to relax and sink into your usual routine. Let him/her go at their own pace. Introduce members of the family and other pets slowly to avoid distressing your new dog. Ensure children are quiet and allow your dog to approach them in their own time.It is good to introduce other dogs in an outdoor environment such as a walk where each animal will feel safer with more space. Let them introduce themselves. When at home, monitor behaviours when they are together. Don’t leave them alone in the house together until the new dog is fully settled.When introducing a new dog to a cat, it may be a good idea to keep the dog on a lead so that the cat can approach the dog in its own time.
Building a bond
The bonding process should occur slowly and naturally. Don’t try to rush this process. Spending time together quietly and gently will allow time to adjust to each other’s company and avoid any fear.
A variety of techniques can be used for building that special relationship. It is important that your dog sees you as a provider of fun, as well as understanding that the fun is to develop a well-mannered dog. Regular grooming and handling will also all develop trust.
Ensure that you let your dog outside on a regular basis, particularly before bed time. A crate can help with this training as dogs don’t like to soil in their sleeping area. From time to time accidents will occur. We suggest the following method to clean up afterwards:
Always test any product on an inconspicuous area first, to ensure no unwanted staining or colour change occurs on your carpet. You will need:
- Spray bottle A: a 10% solution of biological washing powder/liquid in warm water.
- Spray bottle B: Plain water
- Spray bottle C: Surgical spirit
Remove excess urine with a paper towel, then spray the surface with the biological washing liquid mix, mopping up excess with a paper towel. Spray the surface with the plain water and remove excess moisture with a paper towel before lightly misting the surface with the surgical spirit and allowing the area to dry for 30 minutes.
Establish daily routines
Dogs are creatures of habit and thrive on a daily routine. A consistent routine allows development of an understanding as to what their new life involves. Try to walk at the same times each day and keep meal times regular too. Don’t move dog beds around as they need to be sure of where that safe space is.
Be consistent in your control over behaviours. Don’t cut slack because of the history of the dog. It is important to encourage correct behaviours from the beginning. Dogs learn quickly – patience and calm perseverance is essential.
It is important for your dog to feel comfortable in their veterinary environment and it is a good idea to visit Mill House to get used to the veterinary environment without associating it with sickness or being prodded or poked. We also offer puppy health checks with our Veterinary Health Advisers where our trained nurses can talk you through any concerns you may have and advise on diet and preventative healthcare.
Dogs can find themselves in rescue centres for a variety of reasons. With plenty of patience and forward planning a rescue dog can be every bit as rewarding as any other dog, if not more so!