Asociación por los Derechos de Animales Abandonados
Association for the Rights of Abandoned Animals
CIF: G29463635

Information and Advice on Dogs

Adoption Advice- Settling in

A message from expert dog trainer and ADANA member Viv Eales

Bringing home a rescue dog is an exciting time, but in the midst of everything don't forget what the transition is like for the new addition. Some dogs adjust to their new home very quickly while others might take longer to settle, so while you are coping with the changes that the new dog in your life will bring, your dog is doing the same.

The best time to bring a rescue dog into your home is when at least one member of your family has time to spend with her during the adjustment period – two weeks if possible. It is never advisable to get a new dog if you and other family members are out of the house all day during the transition period; nor is it recommended that you stay at home 24/7 showering your dog with affection only to suddenly leave for hours on end when you go back to work. You can achieve a healthy balance by giving him space to investigate, explore and experience his new surroundings and then attention when you feel he needs it. Gradually exposing him to being away from you for short periods of time will allow him to cope much better when left on his own for longer.

It might take a while to find the right dog for your family but if you are diligent in your search, you and your dog will reap the rewards. I speak from personal experience because as I write this column my own rescue dog, who roamed the streets for over 6 weeks before she was caught, is curled up beside me on the sofa. She is a very happy, well balanced dog and has already brought so much joy into our lives, as so many of these wonderful rescue dogs do!

Here are some tips that will help with those first critical days!

Before you bring your dog home. Once you have chosen your dog (or puppy) make sure that you have prepared everything at home before you bring him back! Getting bedding, collars, leads, food, toys and anything else you will need for your new pet is better got before he comes home with you. Also, if you have a garden, it is wise to ensure that it is secure, you don't want to lose him, now you have him! If you are going to let him use a terrace or balcony, ensure again it is secure, he cannot jump over any walls, and that there is shelter for the hot, and the cold weather. Also remember, NO DOG should spend hours alone on a balcony or terrace!

Go home. When you have made your choice, and you are ready to take him from the shelter, take him straight home. As tempting as it is to stop off to show your new dog to friends and family, the sooner you get the dog home, the sooner they can settle into their new lives. Providing calm and routine will make this happen a lot quicker.

Ensure Security. Make sure that the dog is on a lead at all times during the time you are taking the dog home. Maybe bring someone along to help with the dog in the car, easier to deal with a nervous and unsure dog! This will help too with moving from the car to the house without worrying the dog may try to bolt!

Don't Rush! Once you are home, don't rush to take him in, let the dog have a good sniff around outside in the garden/patio/balcony, (on the lead) hopefully he will want to relieve himself, which will help him understand where he is to go later!

Inside the House! When you go inside the dog should still be on the lead for a while in order to slowly introduce him to the new environment. Lead him to where his bed is, show him where the water bowl/feeding bowl is, and generally let him ‘feel his feet’ Only remove the lead when you feel the dog is comfortable, but remember to keep doors shut to the outside, just in case!

Introduce slowly. Try not to overwhelm him, these first few days are quite scary! If possible, introduce the dog to each family member separately. That way he’ll have the opportunity to get to know the sight and smell of each individual. Don’t try to rush things, and expect to have a few days of adjustment! (For you and the dog!)

Any Problems? If, after a settling in period, you are experiencing any sort of problem, look for help! There is nothing wrong with saying things are not quite what you expected, and sometimes just talking to an experienced trainer/behaviourist can sort out the problem, that’s what we’re here for!