Rescuing A Dog



This article was provided to Pet Guardian Angels of America by Mat Coulton


How to Prepare for a Rescue Dog

Have you decided to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or rescue organization? Good for you! You are giving that lucky dog a chance to show you just how much he deserves a fur-ever home.

Unfortunately, over 3.3 million dogs enter the shelter system in the U.S. every year, with about 56% being euthanized. Your decision is literally saving a life! Unfortunately, too many people believe in several popular myths about dogs from shelters, and so many good dogs never get the chance to shine.

Here is the good news: Over 1.6 million dogs are adopted annually from the shelter system. Thanks for being part of the solution!

This article will explore some ways to prepare for your new family member so that you can get things off to a great start.

Puppy Proofing

Whether you are bringing home a puppy, an adult, or a senior canine, make sure you spend some time getting your home prepped for the new arrival.

  • Make sure all household chemicals are kept out of reach. This includes cleaning products, makeup, mechanical fluids, etc.
  • Put any people food items out of reach. Many foods that are safe for people can be toxic to our furry friends!
  • Trash is something that many dogs can’t resist so make sure you have a system in place to keep trash safe.

In addition to the above measures, if you are bringing home a puppy, then please take a few extra precautions, including:

  • Block access to electrical cords using furniture, empty boxes or other methods. Young pups explore their world with their mouths and chomping down on a live wire could be deadly.
  • Choke hazards like small children’s toys should be put out of reach. Another option is to keep the puppy from areas where inappropriate toys are accessible.
  • Try to set up one completely safe room in your house where the puppy can be allowed to play for short periods without direct supervision were any and all possible dangers are carefully removed.

A Room of Her Own

You may have heard that many professional trainers now recommend crate training for dogs. There are indeed several advantages to having a crate trained dog. Chief among them is peace of mind.

Although a primer on crate training is for another article, it is a very good idea to have a crate ready for your new arrival. Rather than doing explicit crate training on day one, just leave the door open and make sure there is fresh water available as well as soft bedding in the crate.

Make the crate a welcoming place for your pooch and toss the occasional treat inside to encourage her to use it. This way, if she gets overwhelmed with the stress of the move, she can use the crate to get a little space and feel safe.

Shopping Spree!

There are several items you will want to have ready on the day of your new arrival to save yourself (and him) from the stress of errands on the big day. Keep the following items in mind when putting your list together:

  • Doggy safe chews: It is critical to give dogs options for chewing so they can satisfy natural urges to gnaw without becoming destructive.
  • Dog food: Ask the shelter staff in advance if your new dog has any special dietary needs.
  • Food and water dishes: A large fresh bowl of water should always be within easy access.
  • Walking gear: Don’t forget to pick up a leash, collar or harness, and ID tags.

Medical Care

Luckily, your rescue is probably up to date on shots and likely has already been spayed or neutered. However, it is important to set up an appointment with your veterinarian for an initial checkup and to get all of your dog’s documentation in order. Try to schedule an appointment within a week of bringing your new arrival home.

The Big Day

Before bringing your rescue dog home, communicate with the other members of your household to decide on some house rules for the dog. Consistency is perhaps the most important step to making sure she adjusts to her new home.

Think through the following questions and get on the same page:

  • When will she be fed and who will do the feeding?
  • Will she be allowed on the furniture, or will the couch be “off-limits”?
  • Who will be responsible for making sure she gets adequate exercise? Potty breaks?
  • What foods will she be given and where are they going to be kept?
  • What basic training commands and/or manners are most important for her to learn?
  • Where will she be sleeping?

By spending a little bit of time to get everyone prepared for your new family member, you can make this stressful time in dog’s life go as smoothly as possible.

Remember that the big day should also be lots of fun! Make sure to set aside some time to play some fun games such as fetch or go for a walk in the neighborhood to give him a sense of his new digs. Look for reasons to reward him and do so liberally. After all, his is your new Good Boy!

Mathew Coulton has worked with dogs for just under a decade and is the founder of, a doggy lover’s website that provides great tips and advice for pet parents everywhere.