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Bringing Home Your New Rescue Dog

Congratulations on adding a wonderful rescue dog to your family!   We love our rescue dogs and we are excited that you are ready to welcome one of them as a new member of your family! The following tips, based on our experience and the experience of others, are designed to help you make this a smooth transition for your new pet and to ensure long-term success.


Key Points


Immediately get a good collar or harness that fits the dog properly, or use a slip lead in the first few weeks.  This is very important as some of the rescue dogs can be skittish and/or are not leash trained.  If scared, a dog will back out of a loose collar and potentially run away.  Additionally it is important to purchase an ID tag with the dogs name, your name, phone number and address on it.

Keep a leash on your dog at all times at first, even in the house. If you need to gently correct the dog, it is better for everyone to simply pick up the leash rather than yelling like a lunatic while lunging at the dog and grabbing his collar.

Be extra vigilant about open doors and gates as stated above, many rescue dogs are scared and skittish after being through all the trauma they have endured. It takes only seconds for a new dog to bolt out into the street.

Give your new dog a calm environment; create a schedule for eating and walking. Slowly introduce new rooms in the house, parts of the yard, other environments, people, children and animals. A new dog can become overwhelmed. If there is another dog in the house, take up all food and toys. Feed them separately until you trust that there are no food issues.

Let your dog settle in when he first arrives at his new home. It is natural to want to welcome the new dog into your life with open arms. But too much too soon is a recipe for disaster. Take your cue from the dog. If the dog is effusively friendly and wants to play, fine. Nervous dogs who are trying to figure out where they are will often growl or withdraw because they are frightened. NEVER try to grab a dog that is trying to hide in a corner, under a bed, in a crate, or elsewhere. You are likely to get bitten. If the dog is frightened and backing off, give the dog some time and space. Sit patiently nearby with a biscuit in your hand, and the dog will likely calm down and come to you. Keep all interactions short and positive, then move on. And that goes for your interactions with the new dog too. A new dog should meet new people under your control, either on a leash or while you are holding the dog. DO NOT throw a come meet my new dog party for all your friends and relatives until you are sure the dog has become comfortable in his new home, and is friendly around strangers.

When introducing a new dog to a dog you already have, it is best to introduce them to each other in the back yard or some other place outside the home, so long as the area is securely fenced or both dogs are on lead. That reduces the chances of the existing dog feeling that his domain is being invaded.

NEVER leave a dog unattended in the yard under any circumstance when you first take him home, no matter how secure you think the yard is. Follow the if this was my 18-month old baby rule. Would you leave your 18-month old child alone in the yard while you went inside to take a shower? No. Would you leave your 18-month old child in the car while you went into the coffee shop? No. You get the idea.

Don't switch foods suddenly unless you enjoy cleaning up diarrhea. Switch no faster than 1/4 new food and 3/4 old food on the first day, 1/2 of each on the second day, 3/4 new food and 1/4 old food on the third day, and all new food on the fourth day.

Take your new dog for a vet checkup in the first few days after you take your dog home.   Make sure to bring all the available vet records you may have so they can be included in your new dogs file.  Note often there is inaccurate information regarding the dogs but you should at least have their most current vaccination records.

Know where the nearest emergency veterinary hospital is. When your dog is sick or injured in the middle of the night or on a holiday is NOT the time you want to start searching for an emergency vet!

Make sure your dog is micro chipped and that the registration information is current.

Remember: DOGS DIE IN HOT CARS. Never leave your dog unattended in a vehicle on a hot sunny day, even in the shade the sun will move! 

Also, these days people will steal anything, including dogs!  Dogs are frequently stolen from cars and if outside of stores

Consider installing a dog door if you can VERY SECURELY fence off an area outside that is safe for the dog to access on his own. It makes housebreaking a lot easier if the dog can eliminate when he wants.

Equipment You Will Need


Bed and bedding. Your dog needs to have its own bed in a quiet place where it will not be disturbed.

Food and water bowls.

Grooming equipment. See our Grooming page for more information.

Lead, harness or collar and identity tag showing your name phone number and address.

Suitable food diet sheet from breeder, or ask what the dog has been fed on, and times of meals. (It is important not to change a dog’s diet too quickly, because doing so could lead to diarrhea or worse.)

Crate or seat restraint for use in your car.

A crate can also be a useful training aid in housebreaking when used correctly.

Supply of poop scoops.

Further Information


The above information will give you a good start on introducing your new dog into your home. Much more information is available in books and on the Internet. 

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