Bringing a Rescue Dog Home Checklist

Pre-dog Preparation

The short version:

Before Bringing a Rescue Dog Home:

  • Buy food and treats
  • Decide where they’ll sleep and buy bedding
  • Designate an area for them to go to the toilet
  • Organise a vet visit, worming tablets, flea and tick treatments
  • Buy a collar, leash, and poo bags
  • Organise an ID tag with your number and a registration tag


Bringing a rescue dog home? Make sure you’re organised, not just excited. Run through our checklist to see where you’re at.

If you’ve got everything, congratulations! You can start the process of getting a rescue dog. If you’re missing anything, you may have some more preparation ahead of you.


  • Dog bed
  • Blanket
  • Puppy pads
  • Grass potty
  • Mess cleaners
  • No-chew spray
  • Baby gate
  • Toys


  • Your choice of food
  • Training treats
  • Occupier
  • Treats
  • Food bowl
  • Water bowl
  • Feeding puzzle


  • Brush
  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Nail clippers
  • Worming tablets
  • Flea & tick treatments
  • Toothbrush & paste
  • Dental finger cloth
  • Council registration
  • Pet insurance/savings plan
  • Puppy school/dog trainer contact


  • Collar
  • Registration tag
  • ID tag with your number
  • Leash 
  • Poo bags
  • Car harness

Getting ready for life with a rescue dog? Get more great advice here.

Photo by Hayes Potter on Unsplash

Written by on for Off The Leash

Article last updated on April 5, 2022

Wendy's never met a dog she didn't like. Although she has a special place in her heart for muts: three legs, one eye, missing fur, bit of a weird walk? The scruffier the better. Her favourite dog in the whole world though is her terrier-mix Stevie.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Clock away cleaning products and medications
  • Secure electrical bales
  • Tie back blinds or drapery cords
  • Check your indoor and outdoor pants are not toxic
  • Pick expensive or delicate items off the floor
  • Make sure their sleeping areas isn’t in a walkway
  • Put up any playpens, gates or dog crates
  • Use child proof latches to keep doors and lids closed
  • What to buy before bringing home a new dog?
  • Dog bed and blanket
  • Puppy pads or grass potty
  • Mess cleaner
  • No chew spray
  • Baby gate or dog crate
  • Toys
  • Brush
  • Shampoo
  • Nail clippers
  • Flea and tick treatment
  • Toothbrush or dental finger cloth and paste
  • Dog food
  • Training treats
  • Occupier treats
  • Food and water bowls
  • Collar
  • Registration tag
  • ID tag with your contact info
  • Leash
  • Poo bags
  • Car harness


  • Go at their pace and respect their choices, space, and body. Let them tell you when they’re ready to interact closely.
  • Provided a safe space (a crate or bed) where they can chill away from people and other pets.
  • Dog-proof the house to prevent undesirable toileting and chewing behaviour from occurring. 
  • Give them at least a couple of weeks to acclimatise to the new space before being left alone there.
  • Let them sniff. In addition to being the best source of enrichment and stimulation for dogs, sniffing is a really therapeutic and rewarding activity to engage in.
  • Talk to small children about giving them space and not overwhelming them.

It’s hard to say what dogs remember, but most will be impacted by their past–for better or worse. A mistreated animal may be shy. While a dog surrendered from a happy home could be well trained and socialised. 

Shelters spend months preparing animals for adoption, helping them recover from physical and emotional issues. A shelter shouldn’t allow you to adopt a dog that’s overly traumatised or aggressive.

Hard to say! But rescue dogs do make loving, warm, and loyal companions.

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