Guide for bringing home a rescue dog
What to anticipate when adopting a rescue dog
There are many reasons why dogs come to our rescue. There are normally four ways:
- owner surrender
- breeder owner surrender
- transfer from another rescue or shelter
- through our relationship with another international rescue organization
All these dogs come to us with different life experiences and with different stories. Our greatest experience is with smaller breed dogs which is our focus with this rescue.
Before we adopt a dog to anyone they have a minimum of 14 days in the foster home where we allow them to decompress, adapt and we get to know them. Often this period is longer as we also want to ensure they are at optimal health prior to adoption.
Our adoption process is outlined on the adoption application an in our "adopt" section on this website. It tells you what to expect within the actual process.
What you can expect from us is that we will be thorough in getting to know our dog and the adopter and ensuring we do all we can to make a good match for the dog and the adopter.
How to choose the right dog
It is so easy to fall in love with a dog straight away. However it is important that you carefully read the description of each dog and think about your home, your lifestyle and the dogs stated needs. For example, a dog that is very vocal would not be good in a condo with shared walls with other residents. Or a dog that has separation anxiety may not do well if you are away from home for work 10 hours a day. Think about the age of the dog and the number of years of commitment you are making. Be honest with yourself for your sake and that of the dog.
Will your rescue dog have behavioral issues?
Some dogs have behaviour issues regardless of age or where they come from. Get to know the dogs story. Listen to the foster parent(s) tell you about the dog and what works for them and where there are challenges. Ask yourself what can you live with, what can you reasonably expect to correct and change and what time do you have to support the dog and their challenges. For some dogs, their history of trauma is difficult and deep and accepting they will be reticent and not quick to accept affection is something you may have to accept as who they are and celebrate the tiny victories measured over years not days or weeks. Some senior dogs may never have had experience with pee pads and may be challenged to hold their bladders as long as you need. They try hard but they just never have. Can you live with some accidents? Ask yourself what you can and are willing to support. We recommend obedience classes or 1-1 obedience for almost all your dogs. This is an excellent opportunity for your dog to learn trust, build confidence and for you too to learn and bond with your new dog. Most obedience centres will have opportunity for you to meet with them prior to classes to discuss any concerns or challenges you have so they are aware and can help match you to the type of class that will be best for you and your dog. When we have identified more significant behaviour challenges we will tell you what we have identified, what works for us and how we are managing it and we will seek a home where the dogs progress can continue. We also may recommend a dog behaviouralist to assist where needed. Our relationship with you and the dog does not end on adoption day and we are available for consultation as needed.
Getting your home and yard ready
Before you adopt a dog from our rescue, a home check will be performed and there will be opportunity for meet and greet with the dog. It is important that the dog has a chance to meet all your family (humans and animals) as well as for your whole family to meet the dog you are considering adopting. During this visit the foster parent will have advice and insights that can help make adoption a smooth transition.
Here are more useful tips on how to get your home and yard ready:
In advance, do as much preparation as you can. Decide on where your dog is going to rest and sleep, and stock up on suitable bedding. Ensure you have water bowls and suitable food. We always recommend staying with their current brands of treat and food for a minimum of two weeks and then slowly transitioning to the food of your preference. We will advise you if the dog is on a special diet and why and the cost of the special diet. We recommend for standard diets you do not change food immediately. The reason for this is quite simple. Even a wonderful thing like moving to a forever home is stressful for the dog. Often that stress manifests itself in tummy issues - some diarrhea can occur. Changing a diet during this first few weeks can make the tummy even more upset. It is for this reason we advise to hold with the same diet as in foster home for a minimum of two weeks and then do a gradual transition.
Introduce your new dog to the rest of the family in a calm, controlled way. The foster parent who will be present at the first meet and greet will give you suggestions on how to best do this and will be ready to assist. Initial meetings are normally held out doors and when possible, on neutral ground so no dog is "owner' of the territory.
When it comes to bedtime, start as you mean to go on. Choose where and how you want the sleeping arrangements to be and start that routine from the first day.
Be consistent with your dog. Conduct yourself with compassion, empathy but also with consistency. Your foster parent will be able to tell you what is the best approach to take with your new dog to help them build trust, confidence and comfort so they can be their very best.
Settling a dog
Separation anxiety is common for many dogs. In the first few days and weeks try not to overly comfort your newly adopted dog. Reinforce their successes and encourage the positive behaviours. This will help your dog to feel more confident in their ability to be apart from you and know they can trust you to return to them.
Provide your new dog with lots of opportunities to exercise and become familiar with their new surroundings, as this is an great way to bond and help them feel safe and relaxed. Anxiety and stress can affect any dog and the steps of exercise, routine, positive reinforcement and utmost patience will help them to gain confidence and ease their anxieties.
Rehoming a dog tips
Connect with the rescue you are getting your dog from and ask if it offers ongoing support and advice.
When choosing a rescue dog, consider where you live and how much dog walking you want to do. Some small breeds are highly active, while an older dog may be happy to spend hours sleeping.
Before you make a final decision, introduce every member of the household, including other dogs, to the dog you want to rehome.
When it comes to choosing the ideal dog, trust the advice and judgement of the rehoming staff.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. A good pet behaviorist can help you deal with any initial training and behavior problems once you come home.