Quick-start guide to introducing and insuring your new rescue dog.

While there’s nothing wrong with pure-bred dogs, the team at DogSure are fans of the humble mutt, rescued from a local shelter. Adopting a dog from a rescue organisation is a wonderful thing to do, as you can give a loving home to a dog who would otherwise face a bleak future and probably end up being put down.

To make it easier to bring your new rescue family member into your home and keep it happy and healthy, we’ve put together a topline guide, including some information about insuring your new family member.

Keep it calm, take it slow, curb your enthusiasm

Although getting a new pet is ridiculously exciting, try to keep in mind that your rescue has probably had a pretty tough, chaotic life up to this point. He or she may have bounced from shelter to foster home and back, and may have even been through a failed adoption. The best thing you can do is provide a calm, stable environment with easy-to-understand rules that help your pup understand where it falls in the home hierarchy (note: it’s at the bottom, right below cats, and it’ll be fine with that).

Make sure you’ve got everything you need

Collar, leash, ID tag, bed or crate, water and food bowls, food, treats, chew toys, grooming supplies, waste bags, and cleaning materials. You should also put anything precious you don’t want chewed out of your dog’s way for a while. Fence off-limits areas with baby gates if necessary.

Talk about a daily schedule for your fur friend. Feeding and walks are especially important. The more predictable the routine, the safer your dog will feel.

Let them explore their new world with calm supervision

Most dogs will be careful in a new environment, and will sniff it all out slowly. Others will joyously bound around the house, biting random bits of furniture. Keep the mood calm, and redirect any chewing with an authoritative “leave it”. Offer them an approved chew toy as an alternative to teddy bears, quilts, and cushions.

Introduce new people slowly

Introduce your new dog to other family members one at a time, outside. Let the dog approach each new person and thoroughly inspect them. Resist the urge to hug, kiss, pick up, pat, or make strong eye contact with your dog at this point.

Introduce other pets even more slowly

Make sure leashes are loose, with no tension in them, and remove all food and toys from the area before they meet to avoid possessiveness. Supervise carefully and never leave them alone until they’re totally comfortable. If you take them for a walk together, make sure different people are walking each dog, as you can’t separate fighting dogs when you’re holding both leashes.

Children should be carefully monitored with new dogs

Children are apt to go wild at the arrival of a new pet, so make sure they understand that the dog is under a lot of stress and doesn’t like too much stroking, loud noises (like random child-screaming), or having their space invaded by a small person who’s roughly the same size as them. Some dogs do not react well to close face-to-face contact, so keep this in mind with your kids.

Routine, routine, routine

As far as is possible, make your new pup’s life predictable. Feed twice a day at the same time every day. The same goes for walks. Everyone in the house should use the same language. Different members of the family using a combination of “No”, “Leave”, “Bad”, etc., is confusing.

Happy AND healthy: How to insure your new rescue dog

Insuring your rescue is not very different to insuring any other dog, with a couple of exceptions:

  1. You might not know exactly how old your dog is. A vet can give you an estimation that will be good enough for a pet insurer like DogSure.
  2. Pet insurance companies like DogSure need to know about any pre-existing conditions, as these are not covered by insurance. Rescue organisations and shelters deal with a LOT of dogs in close proximity. They can sometimes miss conditions like this, so we recommend a visit to the vet to make sure your adopted friend is good and healthy.

Conclusion

Welcoming a rescue dog into your home takes a little patience and self-restraint. It could take 3 days, 3 weeks, or 3 months to get your new pet feeling totally comfortable in its new home. When your pup feels at home, your home will be all the richer for it.

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As South Africa’s Pet Insurance of choice for rescue dogs, DogSure offers unlimited benefits for all breeds and does not discriminate or exclude any hereditary conditions from policy benefits. If you’d like to find out how a DogSure policy works, here is a great 60 second video.

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