The ultimate guide to bringing home rescue pets
When you first bring home a rescue pet, you’ll need to make sure they feel safe and comfortable. Any time a pet moves homes, they can experience stress and trauma, which can make them wary of their new owners. Ease your rescue pet’s anxieties and make them feel at home straight away with this expert advice.
Welcoming a rescue cat
Create a space where they can feel safe
Perth Cat Hospital says it’s important to make sure your home is a cat-friendly environment before you bring home feline rescue pets. ‘Cats are highly territorial animals and having stability within their surrounding environment is very important to them,’ they explain. Perth Cat Hospital is an exclusive healthcare facility just for cats, employing feline-only vets and equipped with everything a cat could need to feel at home during their stay.
The hospital advises the creation of safe spaces where rescue cats can retreat and feel secure. Off-ground areas are ideal for this as cats are traditionally tree-dwellers. Even a space on a bookshelf will suit them. This also enables you to cater for your cat without taking up extra space in your home! Consider that cats need separate areas for eating and drinking, toilet, sleeping and play.
Perth Cat Hospital recommends synthetic feline pheromones to calm your cat in unfamiliar surroundings. ‘Cats mark their scent with natural pheromones by rubbing their face and body on surfaces that are within the boundaries of their safe, secure territory,’ explain the vets. Mimicking a cat’s natural pheromones can provide a calming effect in stressful situations.
Keep your rescue cat inside initially
Cat Haven takes in over 6,000 stray and unwanted cats each year and rehomes as many of them as possible. The organisation provides community awareness of cat welfare and responsible ownership and is part of the national “Getting to Zero” campaign that aims to minimise the euthanasia of healthy animals.
The rescue cat experts at Cat Haven say that it’s highly advisable not to let your new cat outdoors at all for at least four weeks. This gives them the chance to mark their scent and settle into their new home.
‘The best thing to do is keep your new rescue cat confined to a safe room in your home for the first 3-5 days,’ they add. ‘This is to make sure you are not overwhelming your new cat and that your cat has a “safe place” in the home.’
If you have other pets, don’t let your new cat meet them face-to-face straight away. Make them aware of each other by keeping them in separate rooms. Swap their blankets so they can learn each other’s scents before they actually meet.
Get to know each other before you rescue a pet
If you’re planning to adopt rescue pets, Cheltenham Cat Rescue says it’s important that you spend some time with them first. Use this time to check they are the type of personality you’re looking for and that you can establish a bond with them. It’s hoped that your adoption will be for the long term. Ensuring you and your pet are a match before you go ahead is a sensible step to take.
Cheltenham Cat Rescue is an all-breed cat rescue group based in Melbourne. It was established in 2015 in response to the growing numbers of homeless cats and kittens in the area. Cats are looked after by volunteer foster carers until permanent homes can be found for them. Cheltenham Cat Rescue provides ongoing support and guidance to anyone adopting one of their cats on the best ways to settle them into your home.
Once your cat has arrived, Cheltenham Cat Rescue emphasises the important role toys will play. ‘Cats, by their very nature, are hunters, so toys that provide for this sort of stimulation – something at the end of a string that can slide, dart and wriggle around the room – will assist,’ say the experts. Interactive play helps to build trust between you and your pet and can reduce their anxiety.
Welcoming a rescue dog
Take some time off work
It’s beneficial to take a few days off work when you first bring a rescue dog home according to the Dogs’ Refuge Home. Dog parks and populated areas should be avoided for the first few weeks, which will give you and your new pet the chance to bond and enables them to settle in and adjust to their new environment.
You should allow your dog to spend time with the family indoors at first, in designated comfortable areas. When you do introduce new family members, do so slowly – your dog should approach them when he or she is ready.
Dogs’ Refuge Home advises the use of enrichment toys stuffed with food for when you do return to work. These toys keep their brain occupied, which can calm them down and improve their behaviour. If behaviour remains an issue, it may also be a good idea to consult with a qualified trainer who can assist you with positive reinforcement training techniques.
Established in 1935, the Dogs’ Refuge Home is one of Australia’s oldest animal welfare agencies. It rescues, cares for and rehomes hundreds of unwanted and neglected dogs each year, with capacity for up to 150 dogs at a time.
Make safety your top priority in the design of your home
When bringing home a rescue pet, the experts at Vet Net Supplies say that it’s wise to take precautions around your home to make it safe. Vet Net Supplies has been established for over 10 years, providing discount dog and cat products, veterinary and pet grooming supplies to Australian pet owners and have plenty of tips for creating a safe environment.
In their experience, floors that are hardwearing and easy to clean, such as tile, linoleum or hardwood, are the best option. Avoid fancy window accessories like vertical blinds and ornate curtains, as these could present danger to your dog if they get caught in them. And keep anything dangerous or poisonous, such as kitchen or garden chemicals, well out of reach.
The safety advice extends to your outdoor areas. ‘Curiosity should not be discouraged,’ says Vet Net Supplies, ‘but your property must be hazard-free so they can walk around safely.’ Make sure there are no holes in gates or fences that would allow your new pet to escape into the street. If you find any, you can simply fill them in with soil, bricks or cement blocks. Any gates should be securely closed at all times to prevent your pet from escaping onto a busy street.
Be willing to learn with your rescue pet
Dog Rescue Newcastle is a voluntary group dedicated to rescuing abandoned, neglected or abused companion animals. The animals are then fostered by volunteer carers until they can be placed in permanent loving homes. The organisation also runs a community education program and helps to trace owners of lost dogs.
Although the prospect of bringing home a new pet is fun, Dog Rescue Newcastle reminds new pet parents that it is a learning curve for everyone involved. The right behaviours need to be learned by both dogs and owners. Your new dog and any dogs you already have should be taught basic obedience commands such as ‘stay’, ‘come’ and ‘leave it’. If you have children, they need to learn to behave respectfully and appropriately around the dog.
Tools to help with training include a harness and two leads, according to Dog Rescue Newcastle. A two-metre lead for walks and a much longer lead, ideally 5 to 10 metres, for training them to explore safely in open spaces.
When they’re at home, try to keep things as calm and predictable as possible. It’s best to avoid taking your new dog for a walk for at least three days to give them a chance to settle in without over-stimulating them. However, your dog still needs exercise over this initial period, albeit in a controlled environment. Playing with it in the safety of its own garden is a great way of fulfilling this need.
Take care of their health needs
Each dog adopted out by Jack Russell Rescue Australia is desexed, vaccinated, microchipped, wormed and heartworm tested before going to its new home. A not-for-profit organisation, Jack Russell Rescue Australia rehomes over 200 homeless, abandoned and surrendered Jack Russell and Jack Russell mixes per year. They advise these health measures be carried out on any new pet.
While you’re at the vet, make sure to ask for advice on the continued use of flea and tick products , vaccinations and other medical needs. A trusted dog trainer can offer behavioural advice when needed.
At Jack Russell Rescue Australia, they make sure to match the dog with the best-fit family after assessing the needs of both the family and the dog. You can run similar discretionary checks before you proceed with pet adoption. For example, if you’re a family with older children a young energetic dog could be a good fit. Senior dogs, on the other hand, are best matched with people who have a more relaxed lifestyle, enjoy small walks and who are also aware of the needs of an ageing dog.
Find out if your rescue shelter offers support and ongoing advice to adoptive families for the smoothest transition.
Adopting rescue pets can be a wonderful experience for both you and your new dog or cat. Follow the advice from these experts to make sure that your relationship with your pet flourishes into a lasting and respectful one. Get it right and you and your companion will share a truly special bond for life.