Adopting a rescue dog is one of the best decisions you can ever make in your life.

Abandoned and rescue dogs are in dire need of love, care, and comfort. If you have the space and at home for one, and the willingness to give them the love they need and deserve, then why not go ahead with it?

But, before driving to a shelter and bringing home a rescue dog, you have to learn the basic tips and hacks to help make the transition easier for them. Many rescue dogs have gone through a lot of trauma. Some may have been moving from one home to another. When you walk in a shelter, it’s easy to see why it’ll take a bigger adjustment for those rescue dogs than it might for puppies born and raised in more peaceful environments. Physically, this may mean injuries, disabilities, parasites or fleas on dogs, and other problems. Emotionally, this can mean behavioural challenges with the rescue dog.

Here are some tips to make your rescue dog as comfortable as possible as a new member of your family at home:

1. Stick To The Basics First

Once you’re fully decided on adopting a rescue dog, you might start to get excited about the prospect of shopping for pet items. There are dog items left and right—chew toys, plush toys, puzzles, and tons of treats. But, rather than go overboard with all of those just now, it’s a good idea to stick to the basics first.

Rescue dogs aren’t used to a lot of fancy toys and, frankly speaking, they may not care about those toys during the first few weeks of transitioning to your home. To develop trust, they only need to feel like they’re cared for and loved, well-fed, and bathed. 

When shopping for dog items, you only need to stick to the basics for now, like food, bathing supplies, safety gate, walking essentials and calming dog bed products. You can start showering your dog with toys and other treats later on once you start to get more comfortable with each other, and you have more of an inkling whats your dog may or may not like.

2. Keep The First Day Calm And Relaxed

As much as possible, you’ll want to keep the first day as calm and relaxed as possible. Don’t overwhelm your rescue dog with so much stimulation. Because your home is a new environment to them, it’s normal for them to be on their toes. In fact, many rescue dogs can be antisocial during their first few days in their new home.

Your job is to create a calm environment for your dog where there’s a lot of down time. Keep the toys and play to a minimum at first. If you have a big family at home, be gradual with the introduction too. That way, your rescue dog won’t be overwhelmed at all of the new faces.

3. Give Them A Safe ‘Home’ Within Your Home

Another facet of making your dog feel comfortable at home is by giving them a safe place to stay in, even in your absence. One of the hardest parts of the transition may be those hours when you’re away at work. You’ll want to make the transition easier for your dog by giving them a safe space to cuddle up in that is just theirs.

This doesn’t mean putting your dog in a cage. Those days of being locked in a cage should be far behind them. It simply means having safety gates or fences surrounding the perimeter of the space you want to keep your dog within.

4. Make Sure Your House Is Dog-Proof

Adopting a dog can be likened to the process of bringing home a new toddler. Once they get comfortable with the surroundings, they’re going to be all over the place. It’s therefore crucial for you to also make sure your house is dog-proof. This means putting aside any safety hazard your dog may bump into and break. Put plugs and other long and loose wires out of the way. 

Dogs are also naturally curious, especially because your home is still new to them. It’s normal for them to sniff and chew on potted plants within their reach. Apart from destroying your plants, some indoor plants may be hazardous to pets. Ask your vet about that and do your research so you can put those plants away. The same holds true with hazardous chemicals placed on shelves within reach of your pets.

And Remember…

Your relationship with your dog is key! The period directly after adopting a rescue dog from the shelter is crucial. First off, there’s the inevitable getting-to-know-you process between you and your dog. This is your first meeting with one another, so it’s to be expected your dog may still be nervous around you. As well as all the other tips you have to follow during those first few days, a lot of patience is required. After all, this is the foundation of your future relationship together. Take advice from your vet if you have concerns about your new rescue dog – don’t just ‘wing it’. They’ll be your best resource in helping you make your rescue dog’s transition easier and more successful all round.

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About the author

Olivia Williams is a veterinarian working in dog shelters. She’s living her dream of helping rescued and abandoned dogs find their new homes. When she’s not working for other dogs, she’s also caring for her own. She, herself, has three rescue dogs at home, namely Archie, Jack, and Ryan.