What to expect when getting a rescue dog

What to expect when getting a rescue dog – words Al Wood

Offering a forever loving home to a dog who has been abandoned or mistreated in the past is one of the kindest and most rewarding things that you could ever do. With more dogs than ever before now filling up rescue centres, animal homes and charities, they need people like you to give them the happy, safe and comfortable life that they deserve.

But, taking on a rescue dog can often be a daunting experience if you have never done it before. Which kind of dog will you pick? Do you have the patience and skills required to look after certain rescue dogs? What about previous illnesses and injuries that you will be responsible for getting treatment for? Taking home a rescue dog is a huge responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. So, we’ve put together some of the main things you can expect, to help you prepare for the arrival of your new furry friend.


#1. Choosing the Right Dog:

Before you begin your journey, it’s a good idea to bear in mind that choosing a rescue dog is very different from getting a puppy. In general, most dogs that need re-homing will be older and have often developed their own unique personality and likes and dislikes that you will need to keep in mind when choosing. Before taking a trip to the rescue centre, it’s a wise idea to compile a list of everything that you need in a dog; this will help you match up with your perfect canine partner. For example, if you have another pet, you’ll need a dog who will be ok with this. Many rescue dogs are not good around cats or fearful of other dogs, so speak to the centre before choosing if you have another pet at home. And, if you have small children, make sure that the dog you choose is good with kids too.

#2. Having a Home Check:

Once you’ve chosen the dog that you’d like to take home, a responsible rescue centre will always come out to check your home and living situation and make sure that it is suitable for a dog. They’re not looking for a perfect home and normal everyday mess won’t even be noticed; what they don’t want to see is anything that could be a potential hazard for a new dog. So, now is the time to look around your home and see what you could do to make it safer for a dog to live in. If you have a back garden or yard, make sure that it is completely secure as many rescue centres will refuse to allow you to rehome a dog if there is a risk of them easily running away when you let them outside. And, find anything else in your home that could be a risk – open, loose cables can be very inviting for a dog to chew on, so it’s a good idea to secure these to the wall or get casing for them.

#3. Visiting the Vet:

All good rescue centres will ensure that your dog has been checked over by a vet, vaccinated and given flea and worm treatment before you are allowed to take them home. But, it’s a good idea to go to your vet with them too for an initial visit. This gives your vet the opportunity to meet your new dog, and for you to meet the vet if you are new to all of this. You can also have the details on the microchip changed whilst there. Even if your dog has passed the health check done by the centre with flying colours, it’s also a good opportunity for your vet to give them the once-over again and potentially find something that the other vet could have missed.

#4. Getting Insurance:

As with any dog, it’s important to have pet insurance for your new rescue friend. Find a pet insurance policy that covers you for as many illnesses and accidents as possible to ensure that you have peace of mind. You can also opt for policies that will pay out in the event of emergency boarding, for example if you are admitted to hospital and need to find a sitter for your dog quickly, or if your dog is lost and you want to offer a reward for their safe return. In addition, it’s important to choose your dog insurance policy carefully if your pet has any pre-existing conditions, such as ongoing health problems or old injuries that could cause future complications. Pet insurance provider Everypaw, which you can find at https://www.everypaw.com/, offer a round the clock helpline and online chat service to help you with any niggling worries you may have.

#5. Training:

Whilst some rescue dogs have had basic training, others will need a little bit more work to get them to where you want them to be. Don’t be surprised if you get a rescue dog who’s older, but still isn’t sure about toilet training or how to sit. Many rescue dogs were not given the time and attention that they needed for training during their younger years, but this doesn’t mean that they will be impossible to train now. In fact, approach training them in much the same way that you would a puppy – offer treats when they get it right, always give them plenty of praise, and ignore any accidents. Being consistent with training will mean that you’ll soon start seeing results – most dogs are more than willing to learn and please the human who’s taken them in.

#6. Socialisation:

For many rescue dogs, socialisation is also not as good as it could have been. Although they may have been around dogs at the rescue centre, many rescues aren’t good with strange dogs and can therefore benefit from being socialised and trained on how to act in this situation. It may be worth taking your dog to professional training classes; not only will this help you get their training and development right first time, you’ll also have the opportunity to meet other dog owners, and your dog will be able to make friends with the other dogs too. If your dog has a specific problem with other dogs and tends to be aggressive towards them, you can attend classes aimed at tackling this issue.

#7. Common Problems:

Although you can find rescue dogs who are perfectly behaved and seem to have escaped any common problems that come with the territory, others will have some issues and ‘baggage’ that you’ll need to be prepared to take on. The centre will let you know if you are choosing a dog who has behavioural or emotional issues, such as separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can occur in rescue dogs, whilst others have the opposite problem and are wary and mistrusting of humans. If your dog is dealing with any of these problems, it’s important that you understand what that entails and are willing to put in the work and patience that it will take to help them fix it.

#8. Be Sure:

Last but not least, it’s important that getting a rescue dog is something that you’re absolutely sure of, and that you plan to make sure that they have a happy and comfortable home for life. Many rescue dogs are in the centre because they have been abandoned or because nobody has claimed them when they were lost. Make sure that you can offer them a forever home!

If you found these tips helpful, we’d love to hear from you.


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