Preparing Your Home for a Rescue Dog

Pre-dog Preparation

The short version:

Preparing your home for a rescue dog:

  • Lock 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

When preparing to adopt a dog, spare a moment (or, maybe a few days) to make sure your house is ready for the new family member. Even older rescue dogs have specific needs that should be anticipated ahead of time. That pot plant, those socks, that power cable might be boring to you, but they could be fascinating to them. So before you bring your new mate home it’s worth taking the time to look around your house from their perspective.

Start by deciding what rooms you’ll allow your dog into. Any space where they’ll be spending time needs to be vetted–including garages and yards. Once you’ve assigned your dog-friendly zones, review them with an eye out for the following items. Any dangerous objects should be removed or placed somewhere out of reach.

Cleaning Products and Medications

Be very conscious of your cleaning products, medications, household poisons (such as weed killer or rat bait), fertilisers, insecticides or paints. Think, would I want to eat that? If the answer is “no way” then store them in a locked cupboard or on a high shelf.

Electrical Cables

Dogs often use their mouths to explore new objects, so be wary of any electrical equipment that could give them a shock if chewed. If you can’t remove them, make sure they’re tied up or taped down.

Blinds or Drapery Cords

Pets can easily become tangled in cords or mistake them for a toy during play. This can lead to injuries or strangulation. So make sure they’re tied back or secured away after use.

Plants

Many popular house and garden plants can be dangerous to dogs if ingested. Look up the plants you have around your home to see if they’re toxic to pets. If so, make sure they’re removed or out of reach

Preparing your home for a rescue dog

Items on the Floor

Pick up anything that may be small enough for them to swallow. This includes things like shoes, socks, rugs, pillows, homewares and objects with small parts they could gnaw off. Remember, you can’t be too careful. Even soft objects can cause issues.

Rescue dogs experiencing anxiety may express this in destructive ways. Don’t get angry if they damage something that could have been packed away.

Don’t Forget the Garden

All the above watch-outs also apply to outside areas. Make sure any garden, courtyard, or balcony is fenced and secure with no holes where pets could escape. Pool fencing is also a must, along with a pool cover.

Again, an anxious or unsettled dog might take out their energy through digging. Pool or temporary fencing may be needed to keep them away from your prize roses.

Think about Their Sleeping Area

Pay extra attention to where your pet sleeps to make sure it’s safe and secure. Small rooms, crates, and pens are all good options. But wherever you choose, ensure it’s not in a thoroughfare or an area where there is a lot of movement. You don’t want them to be constantly disturbed, tripped over, or stepped on.

Playpen, Crate & Baby gates

If you want to keep your dog away from dangerous areas for a short period of time or when you’re not around (say if you’re doing house work that involves chemicals), consider using a crate or playpen. To make areas of your home permanently pet-free, you can set up a baby gate. Not sure what kind of crate to get? We wrote some tips to help you choose the best dog crate.

Barriers like this may be handy when trying to introduce a rescue dog to other pets or family members. Allowing them to sniff their new pal through a barrier can help you manage a slow introduction and avoid them becoming overwhelmed.

Keep Things Closed

Doors and cupboards aren’t the only things to keep in mind. Also ensure that washing machine and dryer doors, rubbish bins and toilet lids are all secured too.  Trust us, if it’s possible, they’ll find a way to get in.

Alternatively, they may be interested in getting out. Make sure you keep your front and back doors closed, and secure any external gates. It’s not uncommon for a new rescue dog to attempt an escape act. 

Child Proof Latches

If you have low cupboards or doors that don’t close securely, and you don’t have time to get them fixed, child proof latches are great as a quick solution.

For more help with your pup, check out Scratch’s ultimate new dog guide.

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

Sophie is the Founder of So Help Me Dog and one half of the Healthy Dog Pod.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Written by on for Off The Leash

Article last updated on July 30, 2021

Sophie is the Founder of So Help Me Dog and one half of the Healthy Dog Pod. She has always had a passion to work with animals especially dogs ever since she was little wanting to be a vet. Working at the customs breeding facility in reignited her study again when moving to Sydney in 2013.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Lock 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.

Depending on your pet and lifestyle, crate training may be necessary. Dogs that spend a lot of time alone, travel regularly or experience anxiety may benefit from crate training.

That said, crate training needs to be performed properly. You can’t rush it. The crate needs to be large enough for the animal to stand up and turn around in. It should always be kept clean.

You can train both puppies and adults to like crates, but it will be quicker with puppies.

Most dogs benefit from training, but rescues may require the additional support. Many rescue dogs come from high environments where they’ve experienced constant change. A good trainer can help them settle, relax, and bond with you. Rather than just focusing on “obedience” they’ll address your dog’s individual needs and situation. While some rescue centres offer adult dog training classes these can be overwhelming for rescues, so if possible opt for one-on-one sessions.

Next in Pre-dog Preparation

What Breeds Make the Best Family Dogs?

It takes a special dog to fit in with a family. They need to be patient, loving, fun, and adaptable.

Share the post: