How to Prepare Your Home for a Rescue Dog

A black and white mixed dog looking happily at the camera

Are you adopting a rescue dog?

First of all, congrats on the furry addition to your home! Adopting rescue dogs can be very rewarding as you’re giving them a second chance at a happy life and opening more space for other animals at the shelter.

Now, it’s time to prepare your home for the new member of your family. Follow these steps to create a safe haven and help your rescue dog adjust to their new life.

How to create a safe space for your rescue dog

One of the first things you should do when preparing your home for a dog is to designate a safe space for them. This space can be a separate room or a cozy corner in a larger room with a bed or a crate depending on the size and needs of your dog.

Pet-proofing your home for your rescue dog

Ensuring the safety of your dog is paramount. Take the time to inspect your home from a pet’s perspective and identify any potential hazards. This includes securing any loose cords, covering electrical outlets and removing toxic plants or household chemicals from your dog's reach.

Implementing safety measures in your home will help prevent accidents and keep your rescue dog safe and happy.

Establishing house rules and routines

Creating clear house rules and routines for your rescue dog is essential for their well-being and the harmony of your home, especially if you have other humans in your house who need to be on the same page!

Decide in advance where your dog will be allowed and where they will not be allowed. For example, will they be allowed on beds and couches? If not, make sure they have their own cozy spot in the same room, so they’re always included.

Next, establish rules around feeding times, potty breaks and exercise routines.

Consistency in enforcing house rules will help your rescue dog understand boundaries and expectations and promote good behaviour.

Introducing other pets

Golden Retriever and puppy sniffing each other, focus on the noses

If you already have other pets in your home, it's important to plan and carefully manage the introduction of your rescue dog to them. Keep in mind that the dynamics between pets can vary and it may take time for them to establish a positive relationship.

Start by allowing them to smell each other and gradually progress to supervised interactions in a controlled environment. In time, they’ll be best friends!

Preparing for potty training

Rescue dogs may come with varying levels of potty training and it's important to be prepared for the possibility of accidents during the transition period.

Have plenty of puppy pads, newspaper or outdoor potty spots ready to help your rescue dog learn where to go. To get them in a habit of going outside, take them out frequently, especially after meals, naps and playtime.

Don’t get mad at your dog for accidents; this can create fear and anxiety. Instead, reinforce positive behaviour with treats and praise.

Providing mental stimulation

Mental stimulation is important for the overall well-being of dogs, especially for rescue dogs who may have experienced stress or trauma in the past.

Provide your rescue dog with toys that offer mental stimulation, such as puzzle toys, treat dispensers and chew toys. Engage in interactive play sessions and training sessions to challenge your dog's mind and help build their confidence.

Mental stimulation can help prevent boredom, reduce anxiety and promote a healthy and happy state of mind for your rescue dog.

Socialization and training

Socialization and training are crucial for rescue dogs to help them become well-adjusted and well-behaved members of your family.

Introduce your dog to different environments, people and other dogs in a positive and controlled manner to help them build confidence and learn appropriate behaviour.

Enroll in a basic obedience training class to teach your dog basic commands, manners and social skills.

Lastly, use positive reinforcement methods, such as treats and praise to reward and reinforce desired behaviour.

Bonding and building trust

two owners happily petting their border collie

Building trust and bonding with your rescue dog is essential for a successful transition into your home.

Trust is earned through positive interactions, consistency and reliability. Spend quality time with your dog, engage in activities they enjoy and provide plenty of positive reinforcement for desired behaviours.

Avoid forcing your dog into situations that may overwhelm or scare them and always respect their boundaries.

Be predictable and reliable in your interactions with your dog to help them feel secure and build trust.

Remember that trust and bonding take time, and every small step towards building a strong relationship with your rescue dog is worth celebrating.

Seeking help

If you're facing challenges with your rescue dog's behaviour or adjustment, it's important to seek professional help. A vet can assess your dog's behaviour, provide specialized training techniques and offer advice on how to manage any issues that may arise.

Pets Plus Us can help pay for eligible veterinary consultations to diagnose and treat your pet’s abnormal behaviour. We can also help pay for eligible behavioural therapy if a vet conducts it or if you receive a referral from your vet.

Learn more about behavioural therapy coverage under our Accident and Illness user guide.

Pet Insurance

Part of being a responsible pet parent is being prepared! If your rescue dog gets sick or has an accident, Pets Plus Us can help cover the costs of unexcepted vet bills, so your pet can get the care they need.

The most important thing to remember is to be patient and understanding as rescue dogs come with a unique background. But with love, care and proper preparation, you can provide your rescue dog with a safe and loving forever home. They will undoubtedly bring joy and companionship into your life in return!

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