It’s so exciting when your rescue finally arrives. You may be eager to start exploring places together, do fun activities or introduce your new pet to others.
But as our team advises, it’s important to take things slowly and give your dog time to adjust to completely new surroundings.
This guide gives you info on what to do – or not to do! – when your dog arrives, outlines some common issues you may encounter and gives you a handy check-list to ensure you’re ready to welcome your new furry family member. This isn’t an exhaustive list but may offer you some reassurance and guidance in dealing with the most common issues whilst they settle.
Please ensure you
- Make appropriate arrangements to stay home with your dog for the first 48 hours (a legal DEFRA requirement)
- Secure your garden!
- Obtain pet insurance
- Have a dog collar and ID tag with your contact details, but not the dog’s name in case of theft. Consider using Qualitag Pet Tags as they will donate £2 to EverMore for every purchase; please support us using the link here and select EverMore Dog Rescue when ordering.
- Have BOTH slip lead AND clip lead for collar/harness.
- We strongly recommend a 3-strap harness; it’s the single most important item you can buy for your dog. Harnesses need to be fitted and sized correctly. We recommend purchasing one from Ashcroft Animal Accessories – if you mention EverMore at checkout, we’ll even receive a small donation!
- Have a comfy dog bed specifically for them and/or create a crate/den area for your dog to relax
- Have a water and food bowl
- Purchase high-quality dog food and training treats
- Purchase a long lead for recall training / garden time
- Give your dog a name if you haven’t
Give them space
It is most important to note that when your dog arrives they will be scared. They have been travelling for 2-4 days. They have been taken from everything they know and are in a new environment with new people. In many cases, they do not wish to be stroked and fussed right away. Show them where a safe space / comfy bed and water is and let them settle and come to you when they are ready. Don’t force them. They need time to decompress and bond. Just be calm and patient, you will know when your dog is ready to trust you…it can take a long while and is not a reflection on you!
You MUST NOT leave the house/garden within the first 48 hours of the dog arriving into your care, this is a legal requirement as stipulated by DEFRA.
It’s also very important that you do not take your dog out on walks for at least the first week after their arrival, preferably two weeks. They need to get to know you and their new environment. Taking a dog out too early can be overwhelming for them is one of the biggest causes of developing reactivity in a dog. They’re not used to being walked, so they won’t miss it! We humans are programmed to think that dogs must be walked every day, but your dog isn’t. Play mentally stimulating games with them instead – this will improve the bonding process and can be more tiring than physical stimulation. Once they’re completely bonded and trust you, you can introduce them to the outside world. (Scroll down to read more about how to walk your dog once you’re ready.)
Beware the great escape
Romanian dogs can be great escape artists! Be very aware that these dogs have had to survive any way they can; they can jump higher than you think, wriggle through holes smaller than you think, be gone in seconds if scared.
This is one of the reasons we recommend you keep your dog on a long lead when in your garden during the first few weeks, until they are more settled in their new environment and you’re sure the garden is indeed fully secure. Sixty or even 100ft training leads are readily available online or from pet stores – and are also great for recall and other training exercises.
In the event of your dog escaping, you must inform a member of our team IMMEDIATELY. You should also ring your local dog warden, all local rescues and the microchip company. We have teams we can contact who are experienced in finding lost Romanian dogs. If you and friends or family go to search for the dog, we cannot stress highly enough DO NOT CHASE OR TRY TO CORNER THE DOG, they will just become more fearful and run further.
Garden supervision required
If your garden is secure, allow your dog to explore in their own time. They may not wish to come back inside immediately when you want them to; just give them gentle encouragement and use treats to encourage them. NEVER push or drag your dog. Often these dogs have never been inside a home, or seen a garden like yours; it’s all very new and scary and they need time to process it all. For at least the first few weeks, do not leave your dog unattended in the garden and we also recommend you keep them on a long lead while in the garden, as noted above.
Unless adopting one of our UK foster dogs, your dog may never have been inside a house before. It is unlikely they will have had any sort of toilet training and therefore may have accidents. Please be patient and give your dog time to learn. It is not unusual for them to start well and go backwards, be patient and consistent, build a good routine – always take them out within 10-15 minutes of eating and have your own trigger word or phrase, such as “toilet”, “wee wee,” “go potty,” etc. and give lots of praise or high value treats when the dog toilets outside. Some people do use puppy pads but it can sometimes be more confusing for an older dog. NEVER, EVER rub your dog’s nose in excrement or wee. If you are struggling with toilet training methods, please contact us for support.
Tummy troubles are common
It is not unusual for dogs to refuse to toilet for the first 24 – even 48 – hours at their new home. They’ve had a traumatic experience and their system is upside down. It can take a week or more for them to develop a routine, making it even more difficult to toilet train. Do not try to engage your dog in a focused toilet training regime within the first 2-3 days of arrival; they need this time to recover from their journey.
Your dog may also experience minor digestion issues, often caused by the stress from travel. If they do have an upset stomach, feed them a plain diet little by little and often; items like chicken and rice, scrambled egg, white fish, pumpkin or sweet potato etc for a few days and then we suggest dry dog food to start (kibble). You can also purchase some inexpensive probiotics to add to their food. For digestion issues please allow at least 7 days of this plain diet before seeking further advice. However, should you see any blood in their stool, they’re refusing food/drink, or find their symptoms are worsening, please speak to your vet or a member of our team immediately.
Nutrition is crucial
Dried kibble is what your dog would have typically eaten before their arrival; though they may have also had raw food on occasion. We recommend grain-free dry food from high quality brands such as Lily’s Kitchen or Harringtons.
Puppies MUST be given a good quality puppy kibble, two to three times daily; sometimes it may need to be soaked in lukewarm water for 10 minutes, so it’s easier for the puppy to eat. A small portion of wet food can be introduced into their diet, once the dog has settled into the new home and there have been no upset tummies.
If you plan to transition your dog’s diet from kibble to raw brands like Bella & Duke or wet format cooked brands, such as Butternut Box, most vets advise to do so gradually over time. Again, this should wait until the dog has settled into the home and has no digestion issues – and you should consult with your vet on the best diet for your dog and its needs.
Bathing can wait
Do not bathe your dog for at least 7 days. There is a natural temptation to want to give your new buddy a bath – with the best of intentions. But please refrain for at least the first week. It will not help you bond; it will not be an enjoyable experience for your dog. It could in fact cause your dog stress or induce fear. Please always wait at least one week (or longer); go at the pace of your dog. If in doubt, ask the team.
How and when to walk your rescue
Please give your dog time to settle and get to know you before taking them for a walk – don’t walk them for at least the first week, if not two – and be ready for the prospect of them feeling anxious over what they encounter in their new environment. As our team advises, take it slowly and consider your dog’s point of view. This time is crucial and allows them to bond with you so if something does happen they know your voice and recognise you as ‘safety’ rather than a stranger.
As well as not being used to regular walks, your rescue dog is not used to meeting other dogs whilst on lead. If they want to run away from another ‘scary’ dog they can’t whilst on lead – they have to rely on you to keep them safe. If you haven’t established a bond with them, and you haven’t slowly introduced them to their harness, lead and the outside world – they can become overwhelmed and become terrified of walks or end up becoming reactive to other dogs.
Once you are ready to take your dog out, please make sure to use both a slip lead and collar/harness-clip lead and that they have an ID tag with your contact details. Do NOT put the dog’s name on the tag. Your dog will be microchipped and this will be registered by us. If fostering, the microchip remains registered to us.
We strongly recommend a 3-strap harness, it’s the single most important item you can buy for your dog. Harnesses need to be fitted and sized correctly. We recommend purchasing one from Ashcroft Animal Accessories; you may also contact them via FaceBook or WhatsApp on 07887 902273 and they will be able to help you. (Please mention EverMore at checkout and we will receive a small donation for every purchase.)
The dogs aren’t used to wearing harnesses so a bit of patience might be needed. Be aware that certain breeds such a malamutes and husky types tend to be worse in a harness as the pressure on the chest can make them pull more. If you find a harness isn’t working, then try a securely fitted slip lead.
Their collar should be tight enough so that it can’t be tugged over their head (one finger under the collar); this can be loosened (2 finger rule) when you’re confident the dog is walking nicely on the lead, has good recall and is not a flight risk.
Fear of a collar and lead is very common in Romanian dogs, typically due to bad experiences with dog catchers. It’s for this reason we advise you to double lead as noted above for the first few weeks.
Be prepared to work hard using a long line and treats to ensure perfect recall. Recall is the most
important of all the commands. Your dog may have a “name” but it doesn’t know its name. Most
dogs quickly learn their name and basic commands. As above – don’t forget to use TWO leads when walking your dog at first in case they wriggle out of one.
Living in a home is all new – your dog does not understand that your expensive home accessories, cushions, rugs, curtains etc. are not appropriate toys! A firm No is all that is ever needed if your dog does something you’d rather they didn’t. NEVER, EVER strike or smack your dog.
Provide a variety of toys – squeaks/raggys/tug toys/soft toys/chews – for your dog and let them know they can play with them. It can take the dogs some while before they understand what playing entails; they’ve never had toys to play with before.
Cats or other pets
If you have a cat in your home, always introduce them very slowly. Do not overload your new dog;
REMEMBER everything is new and they may not know how to behave. Introduce them to any pets gradually. A safety gate’s useful so they can see through and get used to seeing the cat without being able to get to them. If your cat has not lived with a dog before, keep your cat inside for two weeks.
Guests / dog sitters
Adopting a dog is very exciting and inevitably people will want to visit and meet your new family
member. Ideally people should wait until the dog settles before visiting. If they do visit not long after they arrive please ensure they do not fuss or smother the dog. A good rule is that if your dog wants fuss or to meet people they will approach them. DO NOT allow anyone other than the usual adult members of your household to look after your dog for the first few weeks of its arrival. Too many strangers can scare your dog.
When introducing your new dog to children, please do this very carefully and ALWAYS under strict
supervision. NEVER leave a dog with any child, unattended. As is the same for all people, do not let them ‘over fuss’ the dog. When the dog is happy they will go to them.
Should you allow your new rescue on the sofa or your bed? We recommend not as it can become a place they will resource guard, it’s not uncommon for this to happen.
If you decide that your dog will be allowed on the furniture, we strongly advise that this be by
invitation only. This will help prevent any potential ‘dominance’ issues moving forward.
Please ensure that all the family (including children/young adults) know what the rules are, so a consistent message and clear boundaries are given to the dog. Make sure your dog has it’s own warm, comfortable bed somewhere where he is happy relaxing – this might be in the corner, or right next to you. They are best taught (and will learn quickly) that their bed is theirs to come and go to whenever they want. The sofa (which is yours) is by invitation only. Don’t be surprised if your rescue dog (particularly the older ones) shun all luxury and prefer a cold, hard floor! Some do, at least initially; it is what they have been used to.
Using a crate
Crates can be very useful if used in the right way: they must only EVER be used as somewhere
positive and safe for your dog to go to and must NEVER be used as a punishment tool or to keep the dog away from the family. Make it nice and cosy by having blankets and toys inside and put a blanket over the top. Always leave the door open, so your dog can go in and out as he pleases; this will normally be when he wants some peace and quiet, and it’s extremely important he’s able to do this. Some dogs love their crates, some hate them. Do not force your dog into a crate if they prefer not. If you want to invest in a crate, we suggest you look at Ebay, where you’re more likely to get a virtually brand new one at a fraction of the cost, local to where you live. Otherwise, they can be expensive, especially if your new dog decides he doesn’t like it.
Food aggression is a normal issue to encounter. It is important to remember your dog may have
lived on the streets and had to fight for food in the past. Food aggression is not impossible to
overcome, we always advise you feed your dog on its own, and keep all other animals and children separate at feeding time. It does not take long for your dog to learn that in your home, food is readily available.
Please be aware that growling is not a pre-cursor to aggression. Growling is a warning. It is the dog saying that they are uncomfortable and unsure of the situation they find themselves in. Back away and leave them in peace. Growling at other animals is a warning. It is also a dogs way of finding their place in the new pack. Allow them to settle things at their own pace. Should a full fight occur, DO NOT put yourself in danger to separate. Make yourself aware of what play fighting can look like – sometimes it looks or sounds a bit scary, but while they nip at each other’s neck and faces they never break the skin. A submissive dog will bow down to invite another dog to play and sometimes when two dogs are bouncing around in this way, it can look and sound worse than it is.
Do not be surprised to see your dog eating its own faeces, showing fear of traffic, fear of vans or bin recycling lorries, fear of men, raiding bins, eating everything and anything they can see. All of these are common – anything you are concerned by, always contact us.
If you need any support with your dog, please don’t feel embarrassed to ask for help and contact us; your adoption is much more likely to be successful if you contact us early on, rather than waiting until things have become more difficult. We have a team on hand to help with all sorts of teething issues, or more significant difficulties. We also have a list of recommended trainers and behaviourists, throughout the country, should you need further support.
Settling in for some dogs takes a long time. Please remember the commitment you have made to them. We will always work with you to correct any behaviour that concerns you, but stress that removing/rehoming a dog post-adoption is the absolute last resort as this can be very detrimental to the dog. We at EverMore are right by your side with help and advice to make things work.