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Rehoming a rescue dog for best results.

Taking on an abandoned dog can be extremely rewarding and something we'd suggest anyone looking for a new, four-pawed, best friend should consider. As Karen Davison says “Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.” What can be damaging for a rescue dog however, is to be stuck in a cycle of multiple new homes and return to the shelter. So to avoid this, an aspiring rescue dog owner must do their best to choose a dog that will realistically fit with their lifestyle so that they can offer a forever home.

Informative image: dog rehome

Picking the perfect personality

We Brits are a nation of animal lovers whose hearts often melt hearing tales of abuse and sadness relating to rescue pets. But before you take home the 'neediest' canine case in the rescue centre, consider the behavioural and anxiety issues they might come with. For example, do you work full time? This might not suit a dog who suffers separation anxiety. There are plenty of needy pooches out there who would thrive in these households, so it doesn’t mean you should give up. If however you do have the time, environment and access to support, then indeed, the ‘neediest’ pooch in the pound could be a deeply rewarding pet to take on.

Take a detailed history

Once you've settled on a pooch, find out all that you can about their history so that you can prepare the family and home. For example, a nervous dog who reacts negatively to fast movements probably won’t enjoy walking next to busy roads.

Make a good first impression

Preparation is key! So prepare your home by choosing which areas will be dog zones and cordoning off the rest. Then there will be no confusion and your new pal can make himself at home easily. Dog-proof cupboards, food storage and rubbish bins just in case they're a natural born nosy parker, we don't want their sense of smell getting them off to a bad start in their new life. Remove or make safe any item that you'd be upset to lose to a set of nervous nibbling nashers, just in case your dog suffers from a little separation anxiety. Chewed remote controls or cushions are the classics. And if you know that manners are a work in progress or if there's an extra waggy tail making its way into your life then why not move breakable and precious objects out of harm’s way as well? Ensure your garden is secure. Nature’s flight mechanism could kick in to a spooked dog who might try to leap out of the garden.

Get equipped

The kit list...

A bed - consider the size (a dog should be able to stretch their legs out) and the shape (sighthounds for example, will appreciate high sides to keep winter draughts out).

Collars and leads


Toys - a shelter will often let you take one that they are familiar with to help them settle in.

Food and food storage containers - ask what they've been fed at the shelter. Even if you plan to change their diet, keep it the same for a few weeks so there isn't too much change all at once. Never change diets abruptly; it must be done gradually over a couple of weeks to avoid stomach upset.

Treats - because we all like a treat sometimes and you will likely feel like spoiling your new pal. The need for positive reinforcement and rewarding your dog to teach them the new set of do's and don'ts is a great excuse to do so! Remember that punishing a dog for incorrect behaviour is bad practice which often only makes a problem worse. So ignore the bad and praise, praise, praise the good!

Crate and barriers – seek advice on crates and crate training from a behaviourist. Crates can be a great way of keeping a dog safe when you can’t be with them. Some dogs see them as their safe place however some might find them distressing.

Seek help and advice

Behaviour training is often vital, but don't expect it to be easy. Your new pal has a history which has taught him how to survive and some of the behaviour that comes with that may not be altogether desirable. These behaviours aren’t borne out of ‘badness’. Have faith, stay calm, seek our veterinary and behavioural advice, and you will find the result highly rewarding. Behaviour or training classes might also speed up the learning of useful behaviours such as recall so that you're happy to let your dog off the lead.

Your rescue dog will likely have been vaccinated, neutered and treated for fleas and worms. But check! Ask the questions and ask for documentation, much easier for us to keep their records up to date!

Research dog walkers and doggy day care if you intend to use these services. Ideally go off recommendation from us or your friends and meet with them first. Dog services are a great way to help those who work full time to enjoy the pleasures of dog ownership.

Be safe rather than sorry

Getting insurance to cover veterinary fees is always a good idea. Many are heartbroken when their pet is hit by a car or develops an illness and they can't afford the veterinary care that they'd wish for them. Don't wait, When the accidents happened, it's too late.

Research the difference between 'life' and 'yearly' policies and ideally choose a life policy that will cover a condition for the rest of your dog's life.

While you’re at it, make sure you’ve got third party insurance, in case your enthusiastic greyhound accidentally knocks someone down, or the postman trips over your terrier.

Enjoy yourself

This is an exciting time for both you and your new pooch, make it a happy one. Try to be around for much of the time when they first arrive, you might need to take time off work. It's a big change for a dog and they’ll appreciate being eased into their new life and surroundings gently.

Rehoming a rescue dog is an amazing opportunity. Please speak to us for more advice!