Tips for Settling in a Rescue Dog

Congratulations on taking the leap and providing a home to a rescue dog who will soon become part of the family and give you unconditional love

As an owner of two rescue dogs, it will be challenging for both of you, but please do not give up, as it will be worth the patience and understanding as you build a strong and loving bond.

I hope this blog will provide you with lots of friendly advice to make the transition as smooth as possible.

One important tip is to give your dog some time to adjust. These changes can be overwhelming and possibly even a bit scary, so please do not Irish things and be patient with their settling-in process.

Give them time to settle into their new home, get to know their new family, and feel wanted and secure before trying to take them for a walk. Do not rush them.

When you bring your dog home, take them straight to the designated toilet area. Ensure it’s an area where you’re comfortable with them doing their business. Allow them to stay there until they go, and then praise them for their good behaviour. Dogs are creatures of habit, so establishing a routine will help them understand where to go.

Consistency is key! Decide on house rules regarding where your dog is allowed and where they aren’t. Ensure everybody in the house follows these rules so your dog knows what’s expected of them.

It’s also essential to maintain your daily routine from the very beginning. While it might be tempting to shower your new rescue dog with lax rules and spontaneous gestures to make them feel wanted, it can unsettle them. Sticking to a regular schedule from the beginning will provide them with stability and security.

It is important to remember that gaining a new rescue dog’s trust and building a loving bond will take time. Be patient and understanding, and provide lots of love and positive reinforcement. Doing this will soon build a loving bond with your new companion, who will feel right at home with you!

Please do not fall into the trap of feeding your dog on demand. It’s natural for their appetite to be slightly erratic initially. However, establishing a regular feeding routine will help them settle in faster.

When you first bring your new family member home, continue to feed them with the food they have been used to. Changing their food suddenly can upset their stomach or even lead to a small amount of blood in their stools. If you want to transition to a different food, do it gradually over 5-7 days by slowly introducing the new food while decreasing the old one.

It’s important not to let your dog off the lead in open spaces to start with and to work on their recall in a Additionally, give your new companion time to get used to your household before introducing them to new people or pets.

Speaking of introducing pets, if you have a cat, it’s best not to introduce them immediately. Instead, swap their scents first so your cat and dog can become familiar with each other’s scent. This can help ease the introduction process when the time is right.

After seven days, I recommend taking your dog to your local vet so they can be registered. This also allows you to discuss any concerns you may have and to have a full health check. When you go along to the very, make sure you take any paperwork along, including their vaccination certificate, as it’s important for their records.

Last but not least, when leaving your rescue dog alone in the house, it’s safer not to have them wearing a collar. Collars can get caught on handles or other objects, potentially leading to injuries or even worse. So, make sure to remove their collar before leaving them alone.

rox-1024x498 Tips for Settling in a Rescue Dog

Basic Preparation for Settling in a Rescue Dog.

It is important to make sure you’re prepared! Creating a safe and comfortable environment for your new rescue dog is important.

Securing Your Home

If you got your dog via a rescue centre, the chances are they would have carried out a home check. Part of this would be to ensure that any garden you have access to is safe and secure. As well as ensuring the garden is secure, keeping doors and windows closed is important. This is essential and will help prevent any accidental escapes and keep your dog safe within the boundaries of your home.


Just like with young children, it’s vital to pet-proof your home to keep your new dog out of harm’s way. Store household chemicals securely, ensuring they are out of reach. Additionally, remove any potential hazards, such as chocolates, grapes and other dangerous food items that can be toxic to dogs.

Choosing the Right Gate

Using some pet gate to restrict access to certain areas of your home is a good idea, especially if you have a home office or similar with lots of dangerous cables, etc. It is important that you use a gate designed for dogs rather than children. Dog gates are typically higher and more secure, preventing unwanted escapes or accidents.

Managing Housetraining

Rescue dogs may take time to adjust to their new surroundings and establish housetraining. It can be beneficial to temporarily remove rugs or other items that may be difficult to clean in case of accidents. This will make the clean-up more manageable and prevent any lingering odours.

Dealing with Accidents

When accidents happen, it’s important not to use anything harsh to clean up the mess. Male dogs leave their scent when they have accidents, which is important in helping them settle. Use a clean, wet cloth to remove the immediate mess and at a later date, you can clean the area more thoroughly with pet-safe cleaners or white vinegar. You will find that your dog’s urge to mark the spot will diminish over time as they settle in and feel relaxed.

Establishing Routine

As your rescue dog becomes more comfortable and settles into their new home, their urge to mark territory will fade. Establishing a routine with regular feeding times, walks, and bathroom breaks will help your dog adjust and aid in their house training progress.

Essential Equipment for Your Rescue Dog.

Quality Food

Always do your homework about food. Good quality food will be beneficial to your dog’s health and coat. Research the food you plan to buy at All About Dog Food.

Despite the popular belief that dogs can thrive on a monotonous diet, they actually enjoy and benefit from having a variety in their meals. Additionally, be mindful of the treats you give them. Opt for colourant-free options and use them sparingly to avoid digestive issues.

Stoneware Water Bowl

A good-sized water bowl is required, and I recommend stoneware. Not only is it durable, but it also helps to keep the water cooler for longer periods, which has a lot of advantages in the summer when it is warm. They are also much harder to tip over and spill. This is especially important when your dog needs to stay hydrated during the hot summer months.

Food Bowl, Toys, and a Brush

My rescues have never been fed out of a bowl at mealtimes; instead, I use their food allowance for training, scatter feeding and puzzle toys to help keep them mentally stimulated and entertained.

A good quality brush for daily grooming is also required and will help maintain a healthy coat and provide bonding moments in the summer, helping them stay cool as all the dead hair is removed.

”’H’ Type Harness:’ ‘H’ Type Harness:

‘We recommend choosing the ‘ H’ type harness with a back loop. This design prevents dogs from slipping out of the harness easily, giving you better control during walks. Avoid the figure-eight shoulder, fastened harness, as dogs can quickly escape from it.’We recommend the ‘H’ type harness with a back loop when choosing a harness. This design prevents dogs from slipping out of the harness easily, giving you better control during walks. Avoid the figure-eight shoulder, fastened harness, as dogs can quickly escape from it.

Collar and Lead Options

Invest in a collar that has a decent, secure buckle, fits comfortably and is secure. Along with a collar, a double-ended training lead is worth purchasing. Investing in a harness with front and rear loops, a good quality collar, and a double-ended lead gives you more options and more control over your rescue dog during walks.

Training Lines

Training lines can be extremely useful, especially during the initial stages of training and when teaching your rescue dog to recall commands. They provide freedom while keeping your dog safe and under control.

Comfortable Bed

Beds needn’t be expensive. You can get a duvet that will provide your rescue dog with a comfortable sleeping space. Gradually, you can buy a suitable bed once you understand their size and preferences. Just like humans, dogs love to be able to stretch out when they are relaxing and believe me, it is amazing how big they can suddenly; become

Identity Tag for your rescue dog.

First and foremost, get an iID tag for your rescue dog containing his new contact details as soon as you bring him home or order in advance. Ensure the ID tag includes your name, address, mobile, and landline numbers. Please do not put your rescue dog’s name on the tag to prevent potential theft or misuse of personal information.

Transferring the microchip

Many rescue centres include a microchip, so it is important to ensure the details on the chip are yours. Please remember that this process can take some time, so it’s advisable to wait at least two weeks before starting the transfer. During this period, ensure your rescue dog wears their identification tag for safety.

Introducing Rescue Dogs to Existing Dogs.

If you have a resident dog, it’s important to be cautious when introducing them to your new rescue dog. Remove toys and chews from the shared space for a few weeks or until you’re confident they are comfortable with each other. These items can trigger arguments, especially during the initial stages of getting to know each other.

Common Causes of Arguments

Arguments between dogs in the early stages of introduction are often caused by jealousy, possessiveness of toys, or guarding of food or personal space. Therefore, it’s crucial to give extra attention to your resident dog and allow your new dog to settle in slowly.

Giving Individual Attention

If your resident dog feels left out and seeks attention while you’re bonding with your new rescue dog, make sure to switch your focus to them. This helps reinforce their importance and ensures they don’t feel neglected. Establishing and prioritising their territory can also help ease the transition.

Separate Feeding Bowls and Treat Sessions

To avoid any potential conflicts during mealtime, place the feeding bowls of your resident dog and the rescue dog well apart. Be present during feeding to monitor their behaviour and ensure they eat in peace. Additionally, treat-sharing sessions can help foster respect for each other’s space. Call your original dog by name, have them sit, and give them a treat while making sure the new dog doesn’t rush forward. Repeat the process with the rescue dog.

Engaging Games to Play with Your Rescue Dog.

Playing games with your rescue dog is a fun way to bond and provides mental stimulation and physical exercise. However, choosing the right games that promote a healthy and balanced relationship without encouraging challenging behaviour is important.

Fetch and Retrieve

Playing fetch with a suitable dog-friendly ball (not a Tennis ball, as these are unsafe) or a favourite toy is a classic game that dogs love. It provides physical exercise and reinforces obedience and a sense of deference. Start by teaching your rescue dog to retrieve the item and bring it back to you. Reward them with praise and treats when they complete the task.

Frisbee Fun

If your rescue dog is high-energy and enjoys chasing objects, playing Frisbee can be a great game to engage them. Be sure to use a dog-friendly Frisbee that is safe for their teeth. Start with short throws and gradually increase the distance as your dog becomes more adept at catching and returning the Frisbee to you.

Hide and Seek with Treats

Hide and Seek is a fantastic mental stimulation game for your rescue dog. Start by hiding either their favourite toy or treats around the house, depending on what motivates them in your garden. Now encourage your dog to find them. This game engages their sense of smell and reinforces their bond with you as they rely on your guidance.

Conclusion: Playing games with your rescue dog is an excellent way to create a strong bond and provide mental and physical stimulation. Remember to avoid combative play and focus on games like fetch, Frisbee, and hide and seek with treats. Incorporating approval-based games reinforces obedience and fosters a healthy power balance in your relationship. With time, patience, and positive reinforcement, you and your rescue dog can enjoy a lifetime of fun and engaging games together.

Register your new rescue with a local vet.

Once you have your new arrival, it is important to register your rescue with a local vet. I suggest you ask other dog owners who they use and recommend. It is also a good idea to ask local dog walkers, as they also hear about the area’s vets.

Name your dog.

The chances are your rescue will come with a name you may or may not like. Where possible, we suggest you keep the original name. However, if you decide to change it, you will be surprised at how quickly dogs will adapt to it – this is also the same with nicknames.

Rescue dog socialising and training.

When socialising your dog, it is essential to take it slowly, and you may wish to seek professional help from a dog trainer or similar.

Introducing New People to Your Dog.

  • Restricting the number of strangers your new rescue dog meets in the first few days is important.
  • Remember that your new rescue is feeling overwhelmed, stressed and a bit scared due to all the changes they have no control over. It is essential that introductions to friends, family and neighbours are delayed until the dog has had a chance to settle in and, even then, taken slowly.
  • Don’t allow visitors to get your new dog over-excited, as these will get beyond their control.
  • Keep your voice low and calm during these meetings
  • When meeting new people, give them some treats to offer your new canine friend.
  • It is advisable to have the ‘dog on a lead when meeting new people for the first time. This means they can easily be removed if you or your dog are unhappy with the situation.
  • Ensure that visitors are relaxed and that you convey confidence.
  • Allow your dog to approach them in their own time and sniff the visitor. Don’t let your visitors go straight up to them as this will scare them and could lead to problems.
  • If your visitor seems uneasy or tense, then wait until they are more relaxed and ready to meet your dog. This will prevent any possible problems of your dog feeling threatened.
  • Carefully watch your dog for any signs that they are not comfortable with the situation. This could be licking their lips or nose, turning their head away etc. Whilst some dogs love meeting new people, others feel overwhelmed and stressed, so paying attention to any signs is important.

It is important not to let your dog jump up at people. Teach your dog the “off” command from the start.

Dogs and children.

Make sure you never leave a child alone with your new dog or any dog. Children can do nasty things to get a reaction from dogs (and other children).

Teach your own and visiting children about dogs.

Children and dogs can mix well, even rescue dogs that may not have been around kids before. However, it is important to teach kids that they are living creatures just like humans and not a toy and to ensure they act appropriately around them.

  • How to approach a dog, for example, not rushing up, screaming at, or pestering them.
  • Never annoy or mistreat a dog.
  • Avoid jumping on or roughhousing with dogs.
  • Dogs communicate through nipping when overexcited, so understand this behaviour is normal.
  • Dogs may growl if they are afraid, which is their way of communicating and not an act of aggression.
  • Do not allow a child to walk a dog alone – even if your dog is well-behaved, they may encounter a cat crossing the road or a dog that is not on the lead that is too energetic.

Quick overview with regards to settling in a rescue dog

  • Set reasonable expectations for your new dog and its progress.
  • Allow your new dog plenty of time to adjust to their new environment, routine, and family.
  • Refrain from making strong judgments or sweeping statements about your dog’s behaviour or personality, as every dog is unique and may require different approaches.
  • Understand that a true understanding of dogs comes from experience with a wide range of canine companions, so don’t jump to conclusions too quickly.
  • Keep in mind that the timeframe for a dog’s adjustment can span weeks and months, so be patient and give them the time they need.
  • Remember to be there for your dog, providing them love, care, and support. They will quickly become a lifelong friend and companion.
  • Appreciate that no one else will greet you with as much enthusiasm and genuine, unconditional love and loyalty as your dog will.

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