Before your dog arrives

    • Research the following: dog body language, the breed, training tips/how dogs learn, pet sitters/walkers etc. 
    • Purchase an ID tag for your dogs’ collar 
    • Purchase appropriate food and treats for the dog (Similar to food they have been previously fed to prevent your dog getting a bad belly). 
    • Have their bed, appropriate toys and water bowl already laid out for when they arrive in the home. 
    • Have the home clean and tidy to prevent them picking up something they should not. 
    • Have a clear kitchen counter top, do not leave food out and empty your bin before picking up your dog. 
    • Have the house set up exactly how you want your dog to see it, close doors to shut off any rooms you do not want them to go in. 

  • You do not want to leave the dog immediately, therefore, do any shopping or make any appointments before the dog gets home.

  • Make sure you have got a dog seat belt or crate to transport them safely home.

When your dog first gets home

  • It takes a rescue dog on average 3-7 days to decompress from the kennel environment. Give them time and space and make sure all their interactions with you are positive and rewarding. 
  • Take the dog straight from the car to the garden on lead to give them the opportunity to go to the toilet
  • Once the dog has explored around, take off the lead. The dog will pick up on your behaviour and body language, so be relaxed and do not crowd. Leave them to explore on their terms. 
  • Be prepared for the first couple of days/nights that the dog may be unsettled. You may want to change your sleeping arrangements if the dog is not coping, so the dog can spend a couple of nights in your room and near you. You can then gradually increase the distance between you and where the dog sleeps if desired. 
  • Always give your dog plenty of opportunity to go out to the toilet and praise when every time they go. 

The first few days 

    • Routine is key to help settle a rescue dog into the home. Timing of feeding, walks, rest times etc. should be kept the same as much as possible. 
    • Do not take your dog out for a walk for the first two days minimum (unless stated otherwise in a management plan from the animal behaviour and welfare advisor). Initially, keep to on lead walks to the same places to help familiarize themselves with the area and yourself. 
    • If you know your dog is reactive to anything specific such as other dogs, avoid these altogether for the first 3 weeks before starting training. 
    • Stick to any ground rules you have set from the moment you get home. For example, if they are not allowed on the sofa. 

  • You may be excited to fuss and cuddle your dog. However, your dog may not be ready for this, do not force your dog to engage for a fuss, instead allow your dog to come to you at their own pace. 

  • Allow your dog to rest in their own space and give them an area that is theirs only, where they do not get disturbed at all, such as a safe space (room) or their bed. 
  • If you have any other pet’s then follow specific guidelines set out by the rescue centres behaviour and welfare adviser.
  • Provide your dog with enrichment games. For example, frozen stuffed Kong’s, lick-a-mat, puzzle feeders, scent games etc. For more examples check out our Facebook and Instagram pages. 
  • If you have any behaviour concerns please contact the centre and a certified behaviourist for advice. 

Dog behaviour 

It is key to understand your animal and the way in which they communicate. Dogs communicate to us through body language and vocalisations. To best care for your animals needs it is necessary to understand their language and interpret it correctly. Often dogs body language is anthropomorphised, which means labelling an animals behaviour using human characteristics e.g. the dog is 'guilty', the dog is 'happy', the dog is 'sad' etc .(these can be classed as fearful, relaxed and conflicted). Below is a handout that shows some body language showing relaxed, uncomfortable and fearful states.