Adopting A Rescue Dog – The First Week

Adopting a rescue dog

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Adopting A Rescue Dog - The First Couple Of Weeks

The Rescue Dog Training Guide

You’ve just adopted your new rescue dog (If you haven’t yet…read this) and they’re in their forever home…It’s all exciting right? Well for you, but for your dog, this could be an unsettling and confusing time, especially if they have bounced from shelter to adopted home numerous times.

The thing to remember is that every rescue dog is different and they’ll all acclimatise and get used to their new home and owners at different rates, so it’s really going at their pace while at the same time carefully establishing boundaries to help them settle in and see you as their leader. (what a lot of these rescue dog posts ignore.)

Day 1

  • Don’t bring them straight in your home, let them have a sniff and scent around their new territory…Give him a chance to go toilet.
  • Give your dog time to acclimatise to their new surroundings. Don’t invite every Tom, Dick and Harry over to see your dog. Also, let them get used to you and any other pack members first, so if you have children, tell them how they need to behave around their new dog. No rushing up and overwhelming him. 
  • Don’t give them free roam of the house. Too much freedom and full run of the house can become overwhelming, and what happens when a dog gets overwhelmed in a strange place? They go wee wee. Now dogs do this for many reasons: anxiety; scent marking their unfamiliar territory or scared and unsure of what to do.

  • Have the mindset that you would if they were a puppy toilet training, so what I mean is let them out:
      1. First thing in the morning
      2. Before bed
      3. After a nap
      4. After play
      5. After food
      6. After water
Rescue Dog Decompress

Don't want to eat...

Now The first day or the days to come, you might notice your dog does not want to eat or shows no interest in eating…You have to perceiver. A dog will not starve themselves, So you will put their bowl down, give your dog 30 minutes, if they decide they’re not hungry, feed them at the next feeding time.

For the first few days follow the feeding schedule and diet that the rescue centre advised. This is to avoid any sloppy messes on the floor first thing in the morning when you wake up… Yes, Lilla my dog, the One Dog Training mascot did this at some point, well a few times actually.

Day 2-7

  • Help at night–Your rescue dog might have separation anxieties; this will be worse if you ignore all above and don’t give your dog rules or boundaries and don’t show any sign of a calm and confident leader. What you need to do is develop independence in your dog. If your dog whines at night, you need to vocally correct that behaviour, and show them they have their crate: their safe place. Start as you mean to go on, be consistent, don’t give in, and within a few days your dog will be used to sleeping downstairs in a crate or bed by themselves. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your dog needs to sleep with you or near you
  • Learn to read your dog’s body language and temperament.
  • Setting boundaries and rules on how you want to go on, and show consistency and calm, you’re dog will not respect you otherwise. You need to be that calm and consistent leader they need. So if you decide they’re not allowed on the bed, then they’re not allowed on the bed…Stick to it (I recommend not letting them on the bed also)


  • Create a routine, take your dog on consistent walks, an under-exercised dog will become bored and destructive. Feed your dog at set times, I recommend morning and night. Bond and play with your dog on your terms.


  • Don’t let your new rescue dog off the lead until you know they trust you and definitely not until you have great recall. Also, don’t bring them to the park for the first few days, get used to walking around your streets and nailing walking to heel. 

Where next?...

Your rescue dog needs a strong, calm, confident and consistent leader to help them through the next couple of weeks, they need to know you can provide and look after them, all while giving them direction and a job to do…A dog loves to follow and do a job that benefits the pack.

Want that little extra push and help?

Then grabbing a copy of my new book Rescue Dog To Super Dog will help you achieve all your needs.

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