Learn about the Adoption process

Although it might take a little more time and patience – rescues are always worth the wait.

tips to assist the transition


Allow Time to Decompress

Shelters and rescues are popular places where many families adopt rescue dogs. The time following adoption is called the “decompression” phase—which is the amount of time dogs need to unwind and get into a relaxed frame of mind. This phase is paramount for the success of your relationship with your canine friend.

  • Why does a dog need to decompress? Shelters are stressful environments for dogs. The stress a dog experiences in a shelter can greatly impact his mental state.
  • How long does it take to decompress a dog? 4-6 weeks. Younger dogs, especially puppies, will take less time to decompress than adult dogs. Every dog is different; some may take longer to decompress.


Forget Expectations

No matter how much you plan, you won’t know how a dog is going to react in their new environment until after you bring him home. The first 24 to 48 hours will be a learning experience for all. Leave your expectations at the door. Your situation is unique, so don’t compare it to others.


Take Your Time

It can take on average four to six weeks for your new rescue dog’s personality to surface. Don’t expect to get a lot of sleep, don’t expect the pup to be perfect, and don’t expect them to come into their new home exhibiting their true personality. It all takes time. The best thing you can do is go slowly. Your dog and your family will be happier in the long run.


Keep Calm

A newly rescued dog needs a calm environment to acclimate. Keep things quiet and calm in your home as much as possible. Every sound, movement, and smell will be new to them. Keep toys and affection to a minimum. Let the dog come to you. Less is usually better at the beginning. Resist the temptation to shower your dog with affection and toys. The real idea is you want to establish structure. You want a relationship that’s founded on respect first and foremost, as well as love and affection –those things should weigh evenly.


Give Them Space

To help with the transition, give them a space that is quiet, comfortable, and cozy. Give your dog a spot to let him emerge out of his shell of his own accord.


Keep Them On A Leash

A leashed dog is a must for the safety of your pet and will help keep you stay in control. The idea is if the dog jumps on the couch, you don’t have to grab the dog by the collar. You just simply grab the end of the leash and pull the dog off the couch. This keeps you safe, and it doesn’t run the risk of harming your relationship with the dog.


Crate Train

A crate is an easy and effective way to create a safe haven. Crate training is one of the quickest and least stressful ways to encourage desirable behaviors in dogs. Some new dog owners are not fans of using a crate; however, we strongly recommends implementing crate training as soon as you bring a dog into your home. A crate satisfies a dog’s instinct to be in a den while alleviating many behavioral issues like resource guarding, separation anxiety, and house-training issues.


Slow Introductions

For the first week, keep your dog at home and limit visitors. When it comes time to make introductions to people and other pets, do it slowly. If you have other animals, it’s best to let them get acquainted with the new dog outside your home. Take them on a walk and let them meet on neutral territory; an established dog may feel more territorial in the house. Advise your friends (especially children) to give your new dog “face space.” Ask them to resist the urge to touch or get in their face. Let your dog go to them, and pay close attention to how they communicate comfort or discomfort.


Exercise Them Every Day

Dogs are active creatures. They need a daily exercise routine to keep them physically and mentally healthy. Get the leash and take them for a walk every day to improve you and your dog’s health while establishing a positive bond.


Keep A Routine

Dogs are creatures of habit. Their happiness depends on their environment. Dogs need a steady routine so they know what to expect from their owners and their lives. Their behavior will reflect this accordingly. Once they have a solid structure, they can handle occasional changes like a pro. Feeding, walking, playing, sleeping, and other daily activities can all be a part of your dog’s regularly scheduled routine.


Establish Positive Associations

It’s your job to help your dog form positive associations in their new environment. You want your new dog to feel like their home and all the sights, sounds, and smells that come with it, are the most wonderful things in the world. Keep treats on hand to praise and reward your dog if you’re getting ready to vacuum or there’s a fire truck blaring sirens. Your dog will soon associate any unpleasant experiences with that of comfort, affection, and yummy treats.

Additional tips to aid the transition

Make your home ready for your rescue dog

    • Food & Treats: The rescue will advise you on what food your new dog has been eating. It’s a good idea to stick with that for a week or two at least, to avoid any upset tummies. Treats are also a good idea, as they are invaluable as rewards when teaching dogs new behaviors. Don’t go overboard, though, as it’s easy to overfeed dogs. Decide where they are going to eat and keep that consistent. The place where you feed him should be quiet and safe – without the distraction of other pets or children.
    • Space: Your dog needs a safe space to call his own. This space is where he will sleep, but is also where he can learn to go when he wants some quiet time. Not everyone likes the idea of using a dog crate, but when used sensitively and responsibly, crates can be an effective tool in training your dog to be a balanced and happy pet. Most dogs actually love their crates and see them as their own ‘den’. Try covering the top of the crate with a blanket for added comfort and security.
    • Other Essentials: Collar, leash, a plentiful supply of poop bags, and one or two dog toys. Rubber ‘Kongs’ are great for dogs, as they are virtually indestructible and can be filled with tasty treats to keep your dog entertained.

What to Expect From the Dog on Arrival

Even with all of this careful planning, your new dog may still be frightened by the rehoming process, and may even be travel-sick on the journey home. Once you get home, take the dog out of the car, put him on the lead and allow him to walk around briefly, to go to the toilet and to get his bearings. Then bring him into the house, and show him his bed and food and water bowls. Make sure that your dog understands where his safe place is, so that he can go there whenever he needs to. If you’re using a dog crate, it can be a good idea to feed your dog in the crate too, so that he associates the crate with the positive experience of being fed. Don’t try shutting the door of the crate until the dog has come to see it as his own space.

Only feed a light meal on the first evening, whilst your dog settles down. Don’t try to fuss the dog too much, and simply let him relax, whilst you sit quietly or go about your routine.

With the sensory overload that comes with entering a new home for the first time, your dog may not be particularly responsive and may not want to be stroked or handled. On the other hand, he may be wildly over-excited and try to tear around the house. Let the dog go at his own pace, but try to control the environment so that he settles as quickly as possible.

How to handle introductions when bringing a new dog home

When the time comes to introduce children and other pets, it’s important to take a softly-softly approach, to avoid distressing your new dog. Explain to your children that they should sit calmly on the sofa and wait for the dog to approach them. Tell them to sit quietly, without shouting or making any sudden movements. This will allow the dog to approach carefully and to assess these new and curious creatures on his own terms.

With other dogs, it can be a good idea to have the first meeting take place outdoors, ideally, take them on a walk where there is more space for each animal to feel safe in. Let the dogs introduce themselves, but keep a close eye on them, in case you need to intervene. Until the new dog is fully settled, make sure that mealtimes are closely supervised, and don’t leave your rescue dog alone with your other dogs.

When introducing your new rescue dog to your cat, it can be a good idea to keep the dog on the lead, even if sitting in the lounge. That way, the cat can approach the dog and introduce itself in its own time, while you maintain full control of the dog. Always make sure that a cat has a safe space to escape to, if the introductions don’t go perfectly.

Building a bond with your dog

It can be tempting to try to rush the process of bonding with your dog, by constantly stroking him or even picking him up. To a dog, all of this can be quite intimidating. It’s far better to take things slowly and allow the dog to come to you – just by spending time in the same room together, sitting quietly and speaking gently, the dog will soon come to realize there is nothing to be fearful of.

Once you’ve got over the first hurdles of the dog being confident in your presence, you can work on building that special relationship through a variety of techniques. It’s important that your dog sees you as a provider of fun, so play freely and enthusiastically with him. However, be sure to let your dog know that you control when and how playtime goes, this is important for training a well-mannered dog. Other things that can help to build trust include regular grooming and handling. Take this very slowly, and allow the dog to get used to you touching all parts of his body, including ears, feet, tail, head and muzzle. This can be a very long process with many rescue dogs, but with time, it will build a solid relationship between you.

House training

It’s inevitable that there will be a few ‘accidents’ when introducing a new dog to your home, but there are ways to make sure that these are kept to the minimum. Try to ensure that your dog is let outside to go to the toilet on a regular basis, and particularly before bedtime. Tune into when the dog is trying to tell you that he needs to go outside – he may whine, or sit by the door, for example. A crate can help with house training too, as dogs do not like to soil their sleeping area, so he will learn quickly to go before bedtime and to strengthen his control, to allow him to last until morning. If you do have any accidents, avoid cleaning products that contain ammonia as these can actually encourage your dog to pee in that place again. Try white vinegar instead.

Pet insurance

Consider pet insurance for your new family member. Pet insurance is a safety net to help protect you against unexpected costs related to your pet.