Are You Rescue Ready?
Are you really ready for a rescue dog?
Over the years we have seen dogs come, go and unfortunately come back again. 99% of the time it has nothing to do with the dog, but they are returned as the new family are not really “rescue ready”.
Please read through the following and be absolutely certain you are “rescue ready” before you go any further. Re-homing can be unsettling for the dogs – as well as upsetting for our volunteers and costly for the charity – so please ensure you are fully prepared and in a position to offer a home. There is a lot to think about and sometimes people get caught up in the idea that they want a dog, now is the right time for them, etc etc – however, we will be thinking about it from a different perspective and ask you to too – it really should be all about the dog and what is right for them, and whether you can give THEM what they need, not just now, but FUREVER!
Before thinking about re-homing a rescue dog, please consider these 2 key points:
- Time & Energy
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, as comparing the 14 year old you lost to the 2 year old you are considering is a big difference. Their energy levels, exercise and training requirements and settling in time should all be taken into account. They will also be confused, bewildered and stressed at first after leaving the rescue environment – be prepared to clear your diary for at least a week to devote time to them #itsallaboutthedogs
- Size & Breed
Please be sensible about the size and breed of dog that is right for you and your circumstances. Greyhounds don’t need massive amounts of racing around, but they still need decent walks and time off the lead. Puppies may look cute, but they need supervision, effort and commitment for the next 12 – 15 years. It’s not fair on them to be left alone all day while owners are at work, so please be 100% sure you are ready to take on the responsibility before taking one home. Huskies do have specific breed traits, sight hounds will typically want to chase that fast moving rabbit or squirrel and beagles are not the best at behaving themselves all day long home alone. We seriously encourage anyone looking to re-home to research the different breeds and be sure 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 (or dogs). As much as possible, please try to be objective and not allow your heart to rule your head. We also ask you to be practical – make sure you are looking to adopt when you can afford to take a few days of doing nothing but helping your new addition settle in (at least a long weekend if not longer is preferable).
If you are coming to kennels with the intention of adopting, please think about how you will safely transport your new family member home. The experience can be very stressful for the dogs, so please keep in mind a long journey on public transport may not be the best thing for them. You will need to bring a secure collar, harness, lead, crate etc to transport your dog home safely.
The first few days are critical in the rehoming process. It is incredibly important you view things from the dog’s perspective, so please think carefully about how you will introduce it to your home and help it settle. It takes time, effort and patience to do it properly.
If you are serious about giving one of our dogs a ‘furever home’, here are some tips to give the dog the best possible chance of settling in well:
A quiet and calm home
Your rescue dog has spent much of their time in a fairly small space with a bland outlook and a very well established routine. Your home is a totally new environment to them, so the dog may become easily stressed. This is not a good time to invite round friends or family – keep visitors to a minimum, and where possible spend the majority of your time in your home to allow the dog to adjust to their new surroundings.
It is a good idea to prevent the dog from roaming freely wherever it pleases. A big open space after a kennel existence can be daunting and offer opportunities for things to go badly wrong. Keeping them restricted to the kitchen, living room and hall is a good idea and will help them adapt.
Establish rules and boundaries
Sofas and beds are for another day. In the beginning it is important to establish boundaries and a few basic rules. This also means giving the dog it’s own comfy space, be it a bed, crate or quilt – just something on the floor where it can spend time in peace and quiet and learn it is your house and allow it to fit into your rules.
Be clear on the rules that you intend to enforce. It is often tempting to ‘feel sorry for the rescue dog’ and allow it all sorts of liberties you will not allow it later, but it is far more beneficial for both you and the dog if you are consistent in your behaviour.
Keep your distance
If you have children in the home, it is important you keep them 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. Avoid the temptation to invite all the children’s friends over to meet the dog as it may become over-stimulated and overwhelmed. A dog’s first form of communication is body language, but if you don’t read the signs it could lead to the dog growling or becoming defensive. You should also keep meal times quiet, calm and allow the dog to eat in peace, at their own pace with no hassle or hindrance.
Keep walks controlled
Your first walks with the dog are an important bonding experience – and also another chance to cement your position as leader. Keep 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 – this could be a long time coming and with some dogs, this may NEVER be safe. Just because the dog had good recall at rescue does not mean it will in the outside world with a new owner. Security and safety need to be a priority until your trust, relationship and bond are established. Don’t forget the law requires your dog to wear a collar and tag at all times with your personal details on.
Stick to a routine
As much as possible stick with the routine established by the rescue centre with times for meals and walks. If you need these to change, do so gradually to slowly fit them into your own routine.
Keep the choice of food the same for a few days and don’t worry if they have any diarrhoea for a day or so – it is normally stress related due the change. If you are worried or the dog seems unwell in any other way, please consult your vet, but it is quite a common occurrence given the upheaval in surroundings. Dog food is designed to provide a balanced diet, so refrain from feeding it the leftovers from your meals or giving too many rich treats – it may do more harm than good. Please carefully research food – well know and well marketed brands does not always equal good quality!
Leaving the dog alone
It is often unrealistic to be with your dog at all times – but you should take steps to introduce them to being left alone in a measured way to avoid unnecessary stress for the dog. Start to leave the dog home alone for very short periods and gradually build up the time you are away.
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 you should not leave your dog alone or in a crate for long periods. Please don’t take time off work and spend 24/7 with the dog for a week and then suddenly disappear back to your “normal” routine – small, gradual, realistic steps are best.
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 and I speak a different language and you have no idea who I am or what I want from you – all you know is that you are scared, stressed and in unfamiliar surroundings – you would want time, patience, direction and positive care wouldn’t you?
Dogs deserve time and effort, so make sure you have both to offer before you complete the Enquiry Form
To assist in the adoption process FFH has behavioural support available to help you if you do decide to rehome a dog. However, owners have to be willing to accept this help and put the suggestions into practice on a consistent basis.
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 the time it needs. If things are not working out as you envisaged, you should consider what else you could do to help the dog make the transition to their new home and life with you. If you are not prepared to put the necessary effort in or if your life is very busy and time scarce, please do not upset the dogs and waste our time by taking one on just yet. This is a massive commitment and a dog’s well-being is at stake.
If after reading this you feel confident you can do all this and more, then please complete the Enquiry Form and get ready to give a furever home to a new friend – furever! We will offer post adoption support if needed, but you really do need to be prepared to invest time, effort and energy in the early days to make it work for the dog – after all, it’s all about THEM!