Are you really ready for a rescue dog?
Over the years we have seen dogs come and go and unfortunately come back again and it really isn't fair on them. 99% of the time, dogs are returned as the new family were not really "rescue ready" - it had nothing to do with the dog. Can you please make sure you read through the following and be absolutely certain that you are "rescue ready" before you go any further - it is not fair on the dogs or any of the volunteers if you are not 110% ready!
First make sure you have the time and energy for a new addition to the family - this is particularly important if you have sadly lost an older dog - comparing the 14 year old you lost to the 2 year old you are considering is a BIG difference - energy levels, exercise requirements, training and settling in before they even become part of the family.
Then please be sensible about the size, shape and breed of dog that is right for you and your circumstances. Absolutely greyhounds don't need massive amounts of racing around, but they still need decent walks and off lead time! Puppies look cute but they need supervision, effort and commitment for the next 12 - 15 - 20 years!!! And no, you can't go off to work and leave a 10 week old puppy home alone all day! Huskies do have specific breed traits, sighthounds will typically want to chase that fast moving rabbit or squirrel, beagles are not the best at being nice and cute and quiet all day ..... Do your research and be sure that what you think LOOKS right actually IS right for you?
Once you have passed your home check you will be invited to kennels to meet a dog(s). Please come with the intention of being sensible and not allowing your heart to rule your head - please also be practical and don't look to adopt the day before you have invited 50 children to your house for a bouncy castle party! Make sure you are looking to adopt when you can afford to take a few days of doing nothing but "dog" - so at least a long weekend if not longer please!
If you are coming to kennels with the intention of adopting, please think about how you will safely transport your new family member - collar, lead, harness, crate and NOT expect it to do a 3 hour journey on public transport with numerous swaps and changes and stresses!
The first few days are critical in the rehoming process and it is time people realised the story from the dog's perspective - please DO NOT adopt if you are not prepared to go out of your way to make it work. The dogs don't need letting down more than they already have been. Sometimes dogs are returned to rescue through perceived behavioural issues. These can be brought about by either unrealistic expectations or lack of understanding or a combination of both.
If you are serious about adopting a rescue dog, please think carefully about how you will introduce it to your home and help it settle. It takes time and effort and a little bit of patience. Here are some tips to give the dog the best possible chance of being your FUREVER dog, which is what everyone really should commit to.
Make the first few days really quiet, calm and routine - do NOT go shopping on the way home from kennels, nor invite your family over to meet the dog, nor take it to visit your Mother and her mad dog and please do NOT go to the Air Show! The dog has just spent time in a fairly small space with a fairly bland outlook and a very well drilled routine. Now you want to freak it out!
Restrict access to just certain areas of the house - maybe the kitchen, living room and hall - don't allow the dog to roam freely wherever it pleases, the big open space after a kennel existence can be daunting and offer opportunities for things to go badly wrong!
Sofa, beds and furniture is for another day - for now we are establishing boundaries and a few basic rules and that means giving the dog it's OWN comfy space - bed, crate, quilt - something on the floor and where it can "be" in peace and quiet and learn that it is your house and allow it to fit into your rules.
Keep children AWAY from the dog for periods of time and do NOT let children "hug" the dog - the dog deserves time, space and respect from all family members especially the youngest ones - and please avoid the temptation to invite all the children's friends over to meet the dog - a dog cannot say "please leave me alone now, I'm a bit scared" - it's only options are to look away, then growl, then maybe snap if you are not hearing it right first time! You will freak and the dog could be at serious risk because you over-faced it and didn't read it's communication signs to say "I'm feeling overwhelmed". Your fault, not the dog's.
Make walks quiet, calm and ON THE LEAD - do NOT let your dog run off the lead until you have built a bond and trained and tested recall in an enclosed space - the dog probably had good recall at rescue because he knew the person and trusted them - they do not know or trust you, yet! Security and safety need to be priority until that relationship, bond and trust are there - and don't forget, the law requires your dog to wear a collar and tag at all times with your personal details on.
Keep the routine that the rescue had as much as possible with times for meals and food etc - gradually alter the times slowly to fit with your own routine. Don't change the food for a few days and don't worry about a "loose tummy" for a day or so - it is normally stress related due the change. Obviously if you are worried or the dog seems unwell in any other way, please do consult your vet but "stress tum" is quite common.
Keep meal times quiet, calm and allow the dog to eat in peace at it's own pace with no hassle or hindrance. Stick to the food it had at rescue and do not be tempted to feed it the food you have or too many rich treats - the dog will have had a fairly healthy diet in rescue and suddenly offering all sorts of goodies to "spoil it now" will do more harm than good.
Be clear on the rules that you intend to enforce - do NOT "feel sorry for the rescue dog" and allow it all sorts of liberties that you will not allow it later, be consistent and do not add further to the confusion. It's unfair to say "Aww bless, just let him do it for now" if this time next week you are saying "Oi! Pack it in!"
Start to leave the dog home alone for short periods and gradually build up the time it is left alone. Crate training also takes time and can be a useful safe place for a dog but it is a gradual process with the amount of time being slowly increased but DO NOT leave your dog alone or in a crate for long periods. Don't take a week off work to get the dog settled in and spend 24/7 with it to then disappear off to work for 4 hours next day! Gradual, small increments, easy does it!
Take your time. Do not ask too much of the dog. It does not know you, your expectations, your family or even WHY it has left the routine and security of kennels. Imagine you were removed from a place of safety by someone who does not speak your language. You don't know where the toilet is, you don't like the food, people are poking you, smothering you with hugs, dragging you around noisy, busy, colourful places that overwhelm you and making you feel scared and vulnerable. Would you be at your best? Be fair, give the dog a chance?
Dogs deserve time and effort. Make sure you have both to offer before you complete the Enquiry Form. We do have behavioural support available to help you if you do decide to adopt - you have to be willing to accept it though and put the suggestions into practice - you would NOT believe the number of times people are not prepared to even try - returning a dog to rescue is not like returning an unwanted Christmas present - please take the commitment you have made seriously and be prepared to give the dog a fair amount of time - chances are if things are not working out, it's your fault, not theirs!
Thank you for reading this far - if you feel confident that you can do ALL of that AND MORE then please go ahead and complete the Enquiry Form and get ready to make a commitment FUREVER.