Getting a rescue dog is one of the most rewarding things you can do, I can speak from experience as I have four of them! However, getting a rescue dog is a time where you need an awful lot of patience to enable you to learn to love them unconditionally.

A dog from a rescue centre may have been through a lot in their little lives already. They may have been hurt or mistreated, be missing their previous family or have been on the streets, learning how to fend for themselves.

Settling in

I can guarantee your new rescue dog will have a few accidents with toileting indoors in the first few weeks. Your home is a completely new environment for them. They are nervous and completely out of their comfort zone. This may be something that is short-lived or last a few weeks depending on their character and what they have experienced.

There are some dogs who will just wag their tail and be completely at ease with you, but I would imagine the majority of dogs will have their defences up for at least a few months. This may be portrayed in hiding, not eating a lot, and sometimes lashing out in some way.

My little Chihuahua cross (who was 7 when we got him) used to not like having his lower back touched. He’d growl or turn quickly to warn you of his feelings. Now, he has complete confidence in our relationship and doesn’t feel the need to behave that way. We have our Bulldog who doesn’t like strangers touching him and is funny with men and anyone knocking on the front door. You have to accept their quirks and embrace them, give them the space they need to grow and let them learn to trust you.

The feeling of accomplishment

The feeling of accomplishment and pride when you do see your rescue dog blossom is the best feeling in the world. To see the confidence grow within them and show you the love they are capable of giving is truly humbling.

Never leave dogs alone with children

Always supervise children with dogs. Even dogs that you have brought up from a puppy. Don’t let your child be heavy-handed, pull or sit on your dog. Absolutely any dog will find that frustrating and eventually it won’t end well. A dog only has its mouth to communicate whether it be a bark or a bite. If something is upsetting them they will let you know. This is when many dogs end up in rescue, due to a behaviour that is misunderstood by owners.

Have empathy

Imagine for a moment, your family has left you, you are all alone and do not know what is going to happen next. Put yourself into the shoes of a dog who is in rescue. How long would it take you to feel safe? How long would it take for you to be happy again? When you do rescue a dog or any other animal, please put yourself in their shoes. They have the same feelings you or I have.

I have heard many times of people who have returned dogs due to them barking all night or having accidents indoors. This is where the ‘unconditional love’ part really kicks in. Your little rescue could be a very injured soul indeed and will just need that extra bit of support and love from you to pull him through.

Sarah Woolley
I am a huge animal lover, I have 4 rescue dogs and also run Wagglies dog walking & pet sitting services. I have a family of 5, who all love animals too.

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