Please study this checklist thoroughly and refer back to it whenever you need. You might notice that a lot of things on here are different from advice that you get elsewhere – it all comes from experience, our own trial and error with our own foster dogs, especially European street dogs. You’re always welcome to get in touch whenever you need advice.
WHAT TO DO WHEN THE DOG ARRIVES
When your dog arrives, they are likely to be nervous and tired from the journey – everything is new so let them come round at their own pace. Don’t crowd or stare at them, calmly offer food and be gentle with your approach. Do talk confidently to them, approach them confidently and stroke them firmly so that they know you are welcoming them into your family.
If you have other dogs, introduce them straight away and just monitor to see if there’s any tension. Growling, snapping and even scuffles are a normal part of settling in, so don’t be surprised if these happen at first – it is the way that dogs communicate to each other. Contact us if you are concerned about this, always calmly and firmly disagree with it and it will stop within a few days.
If you have children, make sure they know how to be calm and respectful around the dogs. Street dogs in particular usually won’t tolerate loud noises or overly rough behaviour, for the dogs’ safety and your childrens’ make sure they are always supervised together and that you teach your children how to be gentle and respectful of the dogs.
If you have cats, make sure the dog understands that they are family from the very first day. Contact us for advice if needed.
If you are collecting the dog from a drop off point, make sure that he or she is double leashed with a slip lead and harness, and if the dog is nervous provide a crate for safe travel, which will allow you to bring them straight into your home.
In the first few days, before he is fully bonded, your dog may try to escape – be EXTRA CAREFUL for the first week as this is the time period during which most dogs run away.
It can take up to 6 months for a rescue dog to fully settle into a new family and a new way of living. House training, lead training and setting your house rules are the three most important things you can teach the dog from the very beginning.
House rules (or boundaries) MUST be established from day one. Whether you want your dog to sleep on your bed, in your room or separately, then that has to happen from the beginning. Dogs must never be allowed to crowd you, steal food from you or other dogs, bark or alert you to noises. You may want to have other rules, such as allowing them into certain spaces but not others. Rules are different from routines; a dog doesn’t need a routine but he will become unbalanced without rules and start to show signs of behavioural problems.
We ask that you allow the dogs a two week settling in period where they can adjust to living in a home and get used to your daily routine. Please let us
know if you have any difficulties with them settling in, we are more than happy to help you.
It is unhealthy for dogs to leave food down for them to graze on; in the wild and throughout history they have hunted for their meals, meaning that their digestive systems work best if they are fed set meals throughout the day. Also, if you are the provider of food for your dog then he/she will develop a greater bond with you because dogs inherently trust those who give them food and nourishment.
Make sure that your dog is fed a decent quality food, with no added preservatives or E numbers, and a high meat content. Bakers and Pedigree have a lot of added sugar and E numbers, so please avoid these as your dog will benefit health-wise in the long run.
Suggestions for good quality food brands: Burns, James Wellbeloved, Skinners, Applaws, Lily’s Kitchen, Taste of the Wild, Orijen. Raw feeding is also good, if you are careful to make sure that the dog gets a balanced diet with supplements.
If you buy large bags of the above food at an online pet supermarket such as fetch.co.uk, petsupermarket, zooplus or bitiba they will last you a good while and not break the bank. Your dog will need to eat less of the good quality food than the lower quality ones as they have a higher meat and fat content, so they do work out about the same price over time.
If you have 3 or more foster dogs at a time from us, we can help you with food costs – get in touch for more info about this.
- ○ Not all but many of our dogs need help with house training. If they are quite happy when they arrive or when they have come round and are exploring and sniffing about, take them to the garden (on a trailing long lead if you have a large garden) and encourage them to toilet outside.
- ○ If they do go, praise them and give treats, repeat this until they are fully house trained.
- ○ When outside, shut the door until they go to the toilet, and then open it as soon as they do. This teaches the dog that to get back inside, they need to go to the toilet in the right place.
- ○ Leave the ‘mess’ out there for a day or two so that they will repeatedly go in the same place.
- ○ Try to establish a house training routine as early as possible, make sure you know roughly how much time between when the dog eats/drinks and when they need the toilet.
- ○ Do not take your dog on a walk straight away (see below) but later on when they are happily going for walks, walking can be a great tool to help with house training too.
○ If they do go in the house, make sure to clean it with an oxidising cleaner like biological washing powder or a mixture of white vinegar, washing up liquid, water and sprinkled baking soda.
- ○ Some of our dogs have never walked on a lead before. As soon as your dog arrives, put their collar and name tag on and keep it on until they are properly settled in.
- ○ Purchase a thin slip lead – usually you can only find these on the internet. The thicker ones don’t work as well as the dogs aren’t so sensitive to them. Watch videos of how to correctly walk with a slip lead to make sure that you are using them properly.
- ○ When the dog is comfortable with the collar – some are more than others – try putting on a thin slip lead and walking around a room with them – they need to get used to the feel and pull of the lead so don’t rush this step.
- ○ When they are happy with the feel of the lead, try walking around the garden. Finally, take them for a walk.
- ○ When on a walk, go for a good long while so that the dog can get used to the feeling and start to enjoy sniffing and being outside. Usually, our dogs go out for a minimum of an hour the first time they are on the lead.
- ○ Troubleshooting: often your dog may try and get out of walking on a lead, simply because they aren’t used to the feeling of the lead around their neck. Stopping, lying down, twisting, bucking and even screaming are all quite common ways that dogs protest the lead. If this happens, stay calm and apply even pressure to lead until they stop. The second they stop, release the pressure – that way you are communicating to the dog that he/she will not feel tension if walking normally.
- ○ Never let your dog pull on the lead – this lead to a whole host of physical and behavioural problems.
- GOING FOR A WALK
- ○ Do not take your dog for a walk straight away, let them settle in first. Generally, you want to try lead training within the first few days, but not on the first day.
- ○ Make sure they have a thin slip lead and are wearing a collar and tag with your details.
- ○ When they are ready (they may need lead training), you can take them for a walk. Walk for a good while, a minimum of an hour so that they can get used to the feeling of the lead. If they are young, don’t over-exercise them but go and sit somewhere outside so that they can start to relax.
- ○ It helps speed up the process if you have other dogs or could borrow a friend’s dog to show them how to walk.
- ○ Stay calm, positive and confident, don’t be afraid to apply pressure on the leash if they don’t want to walk at first – they need to learn to keep pace with you, if you hesitate or are overly sensitive then they will become scared and nervous too.
- OFF LEAD AND RECALL
- ○ Many of our dogs have been street dogs, so please be very careful if you are letting them off lead. Never let them off in a busy area or near to roads.
- ○ Dogs who are off lead with other well trained dogs are likely to stick together, but still be very cautious for the first month.
- ○ Before trying off lead in an open space, practice recall commands in the house, then the garden and finally a completely enclosed area like a tennis court. Make sure their recall is 100% accurate before trying areas that have more distractions.
- ○ When you do try them in a more challenging off lead area, attach a long training lead to their collar and allow it to trail. If they start to run off or go to far, that way you will be able to grab hold of them and bring them back.
○ Always use a very high value treat for recall (if you choose to use treats at all) – dried sprats, chicken or cheese are all good. Don’t use cheaper dog treats as they are often full of sugar and can make your dog hyperactive or overweight.
- ○ It is very important that your dog is well socialised with other dogs and people from the beginning.
- ○ Get them used to playing with and meeting other dogs on walks. No matter their age, size or history, they need to be allowed to meet and play with dogs of all different ages, breeds and sizes. If you have difficulty with your dogs on walks, contact us.
- ○ Encourage them to bond and socialise with a variety of people – some of our dogs have been abused or had little human contact before, so they will need extra care and attention in this area. If you have a puppy, it is your job to ensure that the puppy is exposed to new situations, dogs, and people so that he becomes a balanced adult dog. Have visitors round at your house from the beginning, so that your dog knows that strangers are friendly.
- IT IS LEGALLY REQUIRED THAT YOUR DOG BE MICROCHIPPED WITH YOUR UP TO DATE DETAILS
- ● All our dogs are microchipped but they are registered under our rescue – you must change the chip details to your own as soon as possible once they have arrived.
- ● To change the details, you must call Anibase or PETLOG and provide their microchip number (given to you in the documents that arrive with your dog). The details will not come up if you put them into the website as they only show UK registered dogs, so a phone call is the quickest way to change the chip details.