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Bringing Home a Rescue Dog

Written by: Sarah Seward-Langdon

Reviewed by: Amanda Nascimento, DVM, MSc, Ph.D

Published on: 06/09/2022

Rescuing a dog is an amazing way to add a four-legged friend to your family; however, it’s a big responsibility and dogs that have been rescued or rehomed often have a damaged past. They may be scared and uncomfortable in new environments, even in your welcoming home. The new smells, sounds, sights, and feelings are overwhelming for them. Bringing any new pet home is a big deal, but bringing a rescue dog home needs even more planning—and is not for the faint of heart! You need to be ready to handle anything that comes your way because you never know what might happen, and all pets should be forever. It's imperative that you take all the necessary steps to ensure that your new rescue dog can feel more comfortable, more quickly in their new surroundings. That’s where we can help! Keep reading if you need a comprehensive list of some things to consider before bringing home your new family member.

Take the time to talk to your shelter workers and find a great vet

Choosing the right vet for you and your dog can be tricky, but talking to the shelter you are going to adopt your rescue dog from about a vet recommendation is a good place to start. The people at the shelter are all too familiar with what it's like to take care of animals in need, and they can help point you in the right direction when it comes to choosing a vet who will be able to help you based on the specific situation.

We recommend that you bring your pooch in for a check-up as soon as possible once you bring them home. This can be an unpleasant, and frankly, stressful experience for your companion. It may be a good idea to have your vet do a house call, or head over to a clinic for a consultation.

Provide a safe and quiet space

If you're about to bring home a new rescue dog, make sure you have a safe space ready for them. They may prefer a crate in a quiet space—they might prefer to be under the table or hide away in a completely unoccupied room. Whatever makes them feel safe and comfortable is what you should provide!

A new environment is already jarring to them, as it’s filled with new scents, sounds, and faces! It’s very important you honor wherever their “place” is in the home, as this is where they’ll feel comfortable going when they want to get away from family activities, or when they simply don’t want to be bothered. [2] Most importantly, don’t rush your new friend! As we mentioned, their previous life may not have been kind to them, and it’s important to give them the time they need to decompress.

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Arrange for your fur babies bedding and food in advance.

The first thing to do is make sure that you have a bed ready for your new dog. Some people opt for a normal bed from their local pet store, while others like to buy a fancy custom-made dog bed, and some will choose to work in a crate. It will depend on what kind of lifestyle you have in mind for your new pet, but it's always good to prepare in advance so you don't have to scramble around when they arrive! Another great idea is asking the shelter for whatever favorite blanket, bedding, or toy that may have provided to the rescue dog comfort while in their care. This helps make the transition easier as it provides a familiar scent. [3]

In relation to choosing the right type of food, a lot of shelters will tell you what type of food they've been feeding the dogs, but sometimes this isn't enough information! If you're planning on switching over from kibble to wet food, or even raw food, make sure to ask them about any potential issues with allergies or digestion and speak with your vet before switching them over. And if your dog has special dietary needs (for example, if they're diabetic), make sure their new diet fits those requirements. We recommend buying a small amount of the same food your new rescue dog ate in the shelter so that you can properly transition them between foods.

If you’re looking to optimize your dog’s diet, do research into omega 3 supplements to help your dog’s coat & skin health: Skin Coat Health in Dogs.

Plan to take some time off work

One of the first things to consider when you're adopting a pet is where they will stay while you're at work. Rescue dogs can be difficult to acclimate to new surroundings and people, and they require a lot of attention during the transition period. Some places of work provide "pawternity leave" for employees who adopt pets, which is an excellent option for those looking for flexibility in their schedules. [4] If this isn't available to you through your employer, it's worth asking about—many companies are more than willing to help out their employees in this way or provide support in some other way.

Make sure you have all the right gear

If you've got a new rescue dog, one of the first things you should think about is what kind of gear you want to get for them. Do you want to use a harness, a flat collar, a martingale etc.? Some dogs are trained to walk on a leash with just a flat collar, while others need something that can give the owner more control.

It is important that you talk to the rescue about the training your new dog already has and what tools have been used to get them there. If it’s been successful, you should consider utilizing the same tools to make sure that you and your dog can continue to progress in training together. Keep in mind that some rescue dogs need more than just the basic gear—they may not be good off-leash so a long line is required, or they may be nervous in certain situations so it’s safer to have them be comfortable in a muzzle. [5] The most important thing here is to gather information from experts and professionals who have already worked with your dog and take it from there!

Be prepared for any pre-existing behaviors

Since your dog will most likely have an extensive past, you need to be mindful of what behaviors may come with their past. Over time you’ll become very familiar with any unique behaviors they exhibit—whether positive, or outright destructive.

It can be anything as simple as barking, which can be a by-product of loneliness, boredom, or simply stress. [1] Leading all the way up to aggression, which usually requires guidance from a dog trainer. It’s very important to be aware of these things, as the longer the behavior is allowed to continue, the harder it is to correct.

Think about your new daily routine

As with anything in life, consistency is key. You’ll need to create a regimen for yourself, and household members. Who’s going to walk Pluto, and when? Are you wanting him or her to be in the crate primarily? Where are they going to sleep at night?

It’s important you think of these nuances ahead of time, as it’ll help you adjust and acclimate to a new entity in the house as well! Make sure that everyone in the household is on the same page. The most confusing thing for a dog (or any pet) is to receive mixed signals. In other words, if you’ve all decided to not feed the dog at the table to discourage begging, make sure the youngest child isn’t being sneaky or that those puppy eyes aren’t getting through your Dad’s armour.

Give yourself time to bond

Developing trust is incredibly important. This should start during the meet and greet at the shelter and will continue for months (maybe even years). It takes time for your dog to feel safe around you and in their new space, whether they are a rescue or not. It’s important not to rush anything by having too many people or other animals over too soon.

Congratulations on doing the research to be prepared for your new pup! We’re so excited for you to experience the joys of pet ownership. Once you start in on the world of dogs, you’ll discover the need for more info about everything from types of training to the food debate (including supplements). Don’t panic, you’re already doing great!

Looking for a supplement to help your new rescue dog’s coat, skin and overall health? Learn more about Smart Earth Camelina

Camelina Oil for Equine

✅ Single ingredient, 100% pure Camelina Oil.
✅ Non-GMO
✅ Ideal balance of Omega-3 compared to other products, like soybean oil.
✅ Canadian produced and operated.

Camelina Oil for Canine

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

✅ Single ingredient, 100% pure Camelina Oil.
✅ Non-GMO
✅ Ideal balance of Omega-3 compared to other products, like soybean oil.
✅ Canadian produced and operated.


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About Sarah

Sarah is a marketing specialist with a passion for anything creative! Her openness to working across industries and job opportunities has allowed her to gain enormous amounts of experience in graphic design, video production, and written content creation. Animals have a special place in her heart as she grew up with cats and now owns her own Alaskan Malamute. She has spent the last couple of years in Vancouver working with different companies within the pet industry and gained valuable knowledge about the ins and outs of the (alternative) pet food industry, supplementation, and various training methods. When she’s not digitally creating content for pet lovers to consume, she’s out eating great food, dancing at drop-in classes, or exploring the beautiful Canadian scenery with her fur-child Miso.