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The night before our rescue Labrador dog Boo arrived…

The night before our rescue Labrador dog Boo arrived…

I am writing this the night before our rescue dog Boo is due to arrive. Is this you too right now? Are you sat waiting for your new arrival to come? Like me, I'm sure you are asking….

What do I need to have ready for our rescue dog’s Gotcha day?

We’ve done our preparation, got everything we know we need ready and are sat here excitedly planning her first few hours…. If you’re a few days away from their arrival take a read of our guide to preparing for a adopting a rescue dog.

So excited is an understatement!

Our idea of a plan for the day goes something like this…

Eeek.... she’s here!!

Into the Garden

Once she arrives take her straight into garden so she knows where to go to do her business. This is important I’m told as just like a new puppy, they need to know where to toilet. We’ve been told she’s house trained so it is just a case of showing her where to go as she will have been in the car for a couple of hours.
If your rescue dog isn’t house trained then still show them where to go and make a fuss when they do their business outside. And let them out regularly after this first visit to prevent accidents.

Let them come to you

Bring her in and be calm (try!!) and let her get used to the house and smells. If you have other dogs let them meet each other straight away and if non aggressive do not hold them back in anyway so they can sniff their bums! It’s likely that your dog will spend some time sniffing around.

Let them come to you… yet another one that’s so hard as you want to stroke etc. But hold back. If you sit waiting patiently they will come to you when they are ready. Excessive fuss and stroking can make them more nervous so hold back.

Think carefully where to place their bed

Place her bed into the main area that she will live and get any toys etc of her own out so she starts to smell her own smells. Some dogs will not arrive with anything so this can be ignored, but we know Boo is coming with a few bits. Whether you want to keep these longer term for the first few days/couple of weeks allow them their own bits. This will help them settle. If you need a new bed, consider getting one with sides so they can feel safe and really snuggle up. Some people prefer a crate as they can make this their own home. Any is fine.. whatever you and your new addition prefer.


Once settled take her for a walk (on her lead) around the local area to get to know smells. It is important this walk is relaxed and an opportunity to get to know the local area through sniffing. Don’t take throw toys on this walk as this will prevent them from becoming familiar with the area. For that initial walk and the first couple, even if they have fantastic recall, use a lead to ensure they do not run away looking for previous owners, in fear etc. Use a retractable lead if they are lively and you are away from roads. This allows for them to feel like they’re off lead but you still have hold.
If your rescue dog pulls too hard then a short lead will be fine.

Allow them to rest calmly

After her walk, sit quietly with her as she rests and allow family to meet her. This will again be an opportunity for her to sniff and gain her bearings. But do not invite all and sundry around to meet your new addition. They need time to get to know you to try to limit excited visitors for the next couple of days.

Time to feed your rescue dog

Feed her evening meal using her normal food (if possible) that she is used. Do not worry if they don’t eat too much, but do make it tasty (add a sardine to dry food etc).

Time to relax and chill

As we settle after our own meal, let her into lounge to see that room (if different from earlier) and bring her own bed/blanket in if she arrives with one. Again her own smells can help her to settle.
You may find that this first evening they continue to sniff around and don’t really settle. Don’t worry too much about this. They don’t yet know where to lay, where others lay and what is the general routine of the house. Do remember to let them out into the garden regularly to do their business as they won’t yet know how to ask.

Time for bed

Offer a treat after going out for last wee, praising as they do this and show her to her bed. She may settle straight away or she may whimper, howl or bark. Be guided by them and try not to worry straight away. Often after a few minutes they will settle themselves and this is the start of them settling. If they don’t settle themselves then popping down and offering them the toilet can break the stress. Fingers crossed for a great first night!

Other dogs...choose where they sleep

We have another dog so we will leave them in the same area to sleep from night one, unless there has been any aggression shown by either. But start as you mean to go on and only deviate from this if either could be distressed or hurt by leaving them together.


It all sounds so easy! And hopefully it is, but the most important thing I have shared to the rest of the family, is to be guided by her… Give her time and be calm.

I will update again once she’s here!

Share your own experiences and tips for the first day of your new rescue dog arriving in your home. Just one tip could help another dog owner settle their rescue dog in and make a real difference

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