Bringing Home a Rescue Dog: How To Prepare and What To Expect

rescue pup 101Adopting a rescue dog is an exciting and life-changing decision. If you have adopted dogs before, you know that each dog’s history is different and each will react differently to a new home. Preparing in advance and getting as much information as possible from the rescue organization on your new dog can help make your new pooch’s transition smoother. The first month with a rescue dog is a vital time to bond and establish boundaries.


Before bringing home a new rescue make sure you purchase all the supplies necessary to have a new dog in your house.

  • Food and dishes
  • Any supplements or medications
  • Leashes and Colors
  • Toys
  • Bed
  • Crate
  • Puppy pads (if required)
  • Floor and carpet cleaners
  • Baby gates

Dog Proof Your House

Sometimes first-time adopters forget to put away yummy, chewable valuables and household items. When bringing home a rescue dog, it is best to remove anything within reach of their mouths. After all, you are not yet sure of the habits your dog might have. If you plan on letting your dog wander the backyard, make sure you have secured your fencing or installed an invisible dog fence. For those who are designating a part of their backyard for the dog, you should have a safe dog run or fenced-off area installed and erect adequate shelter for your dog.

Lock up any common household chemicals that are deadly to dogs. Also think about what kinds of plants you have in your house. If any of the plants are poisonous to dogs, it’s best to find a new home for them before your rescue arrives.


If you have other dogs at home, it is important to introduce their new pack member on neutral ground. Ask a friend or family member to bring your other dogs. Walking these dogs together and allowing them to meet on neutral turf allows for a more pleasant introduction. You might also want to keep your dogs separated by baby gates so there is a barrier until you are confident that they will get along.

Something important to keep in mind is that the dogs might re-establish hierarchy at this time. Allow them to figure out their social statuses on their own. You might find that your newly adopted dog becomes the leader of the pack, or submissively and happily allows others to be in charge.

As a safety measure, never allow a new dog to be alone with your young children. While all rescue organizations do their best to match dogs with families, sometimes it simply does not work out. Observe how the new dog interacts with your children and how your children react to the dog.

Common Behavior in New Home

Don’t be surprised if your new dog has a few accidents during the first month. Your dog might be nervous or simply marking his new territory. Let your dog know you are unhappy if you catch her in the act, and praise her for going outside. Keep your dog with you at all times so you can learn and prevent any destructive habits. Your rescue may challenge you, and it is important to enforce and follow through with rules. Guide young children to enforce the same boundaries so the dog learns that all humans in the house are pack leaders.

If you change your dog’s name, make sure you consistently use it so he learns to respond. Other important credentials your dog should have is a microchip and license. As careful as you might be, your dog could make the great escape.

Whatever happens, always be consistent with how you react. Being consistent helps your new dog learn what is good behavior and what is bad behavior. Setting your new dog up for success will make both canine and human happy for the long-term. | | | Heidi Cruz