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Bringing Home a Rescue Dog? Use Our Checklist To Prepare

Bringing home a rescue dog is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. As someone who’s adopted rescue dogs in the past, I can tell you that the love and joy they bring is unparalleled. But it can also be a bit daunting if you’re not sure what to expect or how to prepare. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive rescue dog checklist.

From setting up safe spaces to stocking up on essentials, this guide will help you welcome your new furry family member with confidence and care. Let’s dive in!

We tried our best to include everything you would need to welcome your new pet, but since everyone’s situation is different we may have missed something. If we did, please let us know in the comments so that we can improve our list.

Pre-Adoption Preparations

Before bringing your new rescue dog home, it’s essential to lay the groundwork to ensure a smooth transition. Proper preparation will help your dog adjust faster and give you peace of mind. Here are some key pre-adoption steps to consider:

Title - Bringing Home a Rescue Dog? Use our checklist to prepare. with picture of two young girls with an older dog outside.

1. Research

Learn about different breeds or mixes to find one that suits your lifestyle. Some breeds are highly energetic and need ample exercise, while others prefer a quieter pace. By knowing what type of dog you are looking for, volunteers will be able to guide you to the perfect match.

Also, research the rescue organization or shelter’s requirements, such as home visits, reference checks and spay/neuter contracts.

2. Family Planning

Make sure everyone in your household understands and is prepared for the responsibilities of a new dog. Decide who will take care of tasks like feeding, walking, and training.

Are there children or other pets that need to be considered? Have a plan in place to handle interactions between the rescue dog and others in the home.

Discussing these responsibilities ensures everyone is aligned and minimizes confusion or frustration when your new dog arrives. Moreover, it helps the dog adjust more smoothly, knowing they have a predictable routine and consistent caregivers.

3. Budget

Plan for adoption fees and ongoing costs like veterinary care, food, and grooming. A realistic budget will help your new dog receive the care they deserve without causing financial strain.

4. Find a Veterinarian

A trusted veterinarian will become a vital partner in caring for your rescue dog. They will provide regular health check-ups, vaccinations, and guidance on nutrition and preventive care. Bringing Home a Rescue Dog -title - Essential Supplies Checklist for a Rescue Dog - family in pet store with dog looking at dog beds

Essential Supplies Checklist for a Rescue Dog

Having the right supplies is crucial for making your new rescue dog feel at home from day one. By stocking up on these essential items, you’ll help ensure a smooth transition and set up a nurturing environment where your dog can thrive. Here’s a handy checklist to guide you as you prepare for your new furry friend.

1. Identification & Safety

  • ID tag with your contact info.
  • Microchip or confirmation that microchip information is up-to-date
  • Travel crate or canine car safety belt

2. Gear

3. Food

  • High-quality food (match what the rescue is currently feeding if possible)
  • Treats for training,
  • Safe dog chews
  • List of foods that are dangerous to dogs Bringing Home a Rescue Dog - Person Petting Stray Dog

4. Toys & Enrichment:

  • Variety of toys (including a ball)
  • Chew toys
  • Food puzzles or other types of enrichment toys
  • Comfort items like:
    • Blanket
    • Soft toys
    • For puppies a SmartPetLove Original Snuggle Puppy. – it’s a stuffed animal that mimics a dog’s heart beat and warmth.

5. Grooming & Cleaning:

  • Dog shampoo
  • Brush or comb
  • Canine toothbrush and dog safe toothpaste
  • Nail clippers
  • Dog waste bags
  • House training pads
  • Non-toxic cleanser

6. Health & Wellness:

  • Vet records (ensure vaccinations and spay/neuter are done or planned)
  • First aid kit for pets
  • Tick remover
  • Flea and tick prevention Bringing Home a Rescue Dog - title Setting Up at home - young mixed breed puppy on couch

Setting Up at Home

After you’ve gathered the essential supplies, it’s time to set up your home to welcome your rescue dog with care and comfort. Here’s a checklist to guide you through creating a safe environment:

Create Safe Spaces

1. Prepare a Quiet Area

  • Set up a cozy, designated area with a crate or dog bed where your dog can relax undisturbed.
  • Place comforting items like blankets or soft toys in the space.

2. Secure Dangerous Items

  • Dog-proof the house by securing hazardous chemicals, electrical cords, and small objects.
  • Store household cleaners, medications, and other toxic substances in locked cabinets or on high shelves out of your dog’s reach.
  • Remove toxic plants from their reach
  • Make sure all sharp objects, such as knives or scissors, are safely stored away
  • Ensure that trash cans have secure lids or are placed in areas inaccessible to curious dogs.
  • Block access to any non-dog-friendly areas, like certain rooms or staircases. Bringing Home a Rescue Dog - Young rescue dog outside being petted by a women

Establish Routines

1. Feeding and Walking Times

  • Set specific times for meals to help your dog adjust to a predictable schedule.
  • Plan consistent walking times to establish good habits and fulfill their exercise needs.

2. Play and Bonding Sessions

  • Schedule regular play-times to help your dog burn energy and build trust.
  • Introduce training sessions to reinforce positive behavior and strengthen your bond.
  • Creating these routines and safe spaces will ensure your dog feels secure in their new home and understands the structure and consistency they can rely on.

Checkout our post on How to Prepare Your Home for a Rescue Dog for more information. Bringing Home a Rescue Dog -title- Post-Adoption Checklist - mixed breed dog with their head in a person's lap

Post-Adoption Checklist

Schedule a Vet Appointment

Within the first week of bringing your rescue dog home, it’s advised that you arrange a vet appointment for a thorough wellness check. During this initial visit, your vet will evaluate your dog’s general health and advise you on long-term care. Here’s a general breakdown of what to expect and discuss:

  • Comprehensive Examination:
    • The vet will conduct a full physical exam, checking for any obvious issues like dental problems, ear infections, skin conditions, or mobility challenges.
    • Blood tests and other diagnostics may be recommended, especially for older dogs or those with known health concerns.
  • Vaccination Review:
    • Review your dog’s vaccination history to ensure they’re up-to-date on essential vaccines like rabies, distemper, and parvovirus.
    • Discuss a schedule for future vaccinations based on your dog’s age, lifestyle, and potential exposure risks.
  • Diet Consultation:
    • Your vet will help determine the best diet for your dog’s breed, age, weight, and health needs.
    • If your dog is underweight or overweight, the vet can guide you on adjusting feeding habits for optimal health.
  • Dental Health:
    • Oral care is vital for your dog’s overall well-being. The vet will check for dental issues like tartar buildup, gum disease, or loose teeth.
    • Ask for advice on at-home dental care, including brushing techniques and suitable dental chews or treats.
  • Parasite Prevention:
    • Ensure your dog is protected against fleas, ticks, and heartworms.
    • Discuss appropriate preventive treatments, especially if your area has a high prevalence of certain parasites.
  • Spay/Neuter Status:
    • If your dog hasn’t been spayed or neutered yet, ask the vet about the right time and procedure.
    • Confirm that no health conditions would prevent or complicate the procedure.

Legal Requirements

Register your dog with the local municipality if required, providing proof of vaccinations and other health documentation.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.