5 Things to Do Before Bringing Home a Rescue Dog

First off, congratulations on adopting your newest furry family member! We commend you for giving your dog a second chance in life, and we are thrilled for the upcoming rewarding journey that you and your best friend-to-be will embark on.

This article is the first in a three-part series on advice to help you and your dog settle into your life and home. You can check out the second article on how to create a welcoming home for your rescue dog here, and the third article on tips for the first month after bringing home a rescue dog here.

Image courtesy of Animal Welfare League Queensland
Mavis was adopted last March 2023 and was lucky enough to find a home with Loretta and Nathanie.

1. Manage your expectations

With all the new people, sounds, smells, and environments your newly adopted dog would encounter, it can be an overwhelming experience for them.

For example, even if your rescue dog did not have any prior experience of mistreatment, they may not be used to certain things and become frightened of them if they encounter such at your home.

Patience is key, especially during times when things do not go according to plan. Going easy on yourself and your dog will make this transition as least stressful as possible.

2. Pay attention to the rules and advice provided by the shelter

Taking the recommendations of the shelter or adoption agency seriously is important for your rescue dog’s well-being. The shelter would inform you of any behavioural issues they have observed and provide insights on how to manage such.

For instance, if the shelter advised that your rescue dog is fearful around other dogs, you will need to let them know if you have existing pets at home and it would be best not to invite over guests with dogs. Discussing such concerns with the shelter is vital so that they can give advice and help you develop plans to work through them.

Image courtesy of Animal Welfare League Queensland
The friendly team at Animal Welfare League Queensland who can guide you on your adoption journey.

3. Ensure you have a nearby vet

Before bringing home your rescue dog, make sure that you will have a go-to veterinary clinic for regular check-ups and unforeseen health situations. Establishing a good relationship with your vet early on is vital as your vet would be the most valuable resource on your dog’s health and behaviour.

Discussing the following with your vet would prepare you for when you bring home your newly adopted pet:

  • diet and exercise recommendations based on your dog’s age and breed
  • signs of illness and/or stress
  • potential health concerns
  • possible use of an Adaptil collar or spray for calming pheromones

To help you start, a good resource about dog health and behaviour is the Q&A video below by veterinary behaviourist Dr Ingrid Groeger-Stone and behavioural dog trainer and vet nurse Zoe Bobbermien. Questions include ‘How can I help my dog’s anxiety?’, ‘How do I know if my dog has dental disease or just a smelly breath?’, and many more.

4. Scout experienced trainers and/or training schools

Whether or not your dog is a rescue, we highly suggest signing up your pet for training with professionals. Apart from offering physical and mental stimulation and improving overall behaviour, training can help increase your dog’s confidence and strengthen your bond with your pet.

At times even the shelter might not know the complete history of your dog’s previous experiences. Your dog might have also been taught commands that are different to the ones you would use. Experienced trainers will be able to help you navigate through such circumstances.

Leave It recommends positive reinforcement training as dogs respond best to it over punishment training because the latter can leave your dog feeling unmotivated and ashamed. To make sure you are comfortable with the methods a dog trainer or school uses, you may want to consider watching or observing a class first before signing up.

Because training your dog starts on the first day you will bring them home, you can check out our free Leave It dog training app before bringing home your pet so you can have an idea of the basics of training.

Behaviour and obedience training are two fundamental skills you can implement to give your dog the best, stress-free life possible. Learn more about those in this video by behavioural specialist and founder of Pawsome Puppies, James:

5. Consider pet insurance

To help manage overall expenditure and for ease of mind during emergency situations, pet owners usually turn to pet insurance. Pet insurance can help cover unforeseen healthcare costs.

Below is a quick list of things to consider when researching for pet insurance policies so read carefully when doing your research:

  • With new policies, there is usually a waiting period for certain conditions.
  • Various companies offer different policies at different price levels.
  • Check the coverage details (what is included and excluded in the policy).

The next step in preparation for your rescue dog’s adoption is creating a safe and welcoming environment for them at home. You can also read our tips for the first month after bringing home your rescue dog here.


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Leave It provides free online dog training resources, dog events and access to dog trainers near you, to help you with all things dog behaviour.

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Mick Collins
Mick Collins
2 months ago

Very informative course , I am finding that I have learnt a lot and can now use these tools to train my JR to leave wildlife, snakes alone. He is very smart , and knows a lot of words already, my main recall concern was keeping him safe from snakes!