Taking a New Pet Home

Bringing a new pet into your home can be very exciting for the family. But for your new pet it can be a daunting occasion and even frightening for some. Our dogs and our cats have had homes before and have had either bad experiences or gone through the trauma of losing a loved owner through death, infirmity or a change in circumstances as well as the home that is familiar to them. They have no understanding of why their life has been turned upside down and, despite what some people think, animals do have feelings, and they do suffer loss and bereavement, worry, confusion and stress. We hope the hints below will help you ease your new pet with a past into it’s new home with as little distress as possible and help you understand its needs and help it settle in.


Once you have chosen your pet, make sure you get as much information about him as possible from the Ark staff, i.e. any health issues, including veterinary treatment, his diet and food preferences, his daily routine and feeding times etc.We ask you to introduce a prospective pet dog to your children and any other dogs you may have before making a final decision, particularly if their child/animal status is unknown. We are happy to cat-test a dog if this is an issue for you.

Make sure you have any equipment needed such as lead, collar, name disc, feeding and water bowls, bedding, toys, grooming brushes etc.

Discuss with the family any house rules, such as where he will sleep, which rooms he may or may not go in, (e.g. bedrooms), whether he is to be allowed on furniture, who will be responsible for different aspects of his care, like feeding, grooming, walks etc. and stick to it. A dog will spend the first 2 weeks assessing his new home and owners. If you spoil him during those weeks while he’s settling in, and then try and make the rules, you will find it much harder to achieve.

If you can arrange it, make the arrival of your pet coincide with some time at home so that you can be around all the time gradually leaving him alone for short periods of time and increasing them as necessary.



Introduce your dog to his new home and garden on his lead, letting him stop and sniff when he wants to. He may well make himself at home by relieving himself, hopefully in the garden!Expect unexpected behaviour. Your pet will be nervous and excited at the same time. There will be new faces, places, smells and noises. He will be confused and stressed and may well have toilet accidents during the first few days. A house-trained animal will quickly resume good habits, so DON’T scold him. You’ll just make matters worse.

Try and keep things as calm as possible, allow him to rest and settle in, talk calmly to him, don’t invite family and friends around to meet him and handle him straight away. He needs time to learn where everything is, new routines, new rules and to get to know you. He may behave quite differently from when he was at the Ark. Be patient and kind but firm, praise good behaviour and give him time. This is the time when he’s learning his place in the “pack” so how you are with him now will influence his future behaviour.

If you want to give a different food from what he’s been used to at the Ark, or at different times, change gradually over about a week, as this will help prevent stomach upsets. If you have other dogs, watch that each dog sticks to its own bowl and monitor “pack” behaviour.

If you want to change your dog’s name, that shouldn’t be a problem. If his name is known to us at the Ark, we keep it and you might be better changing to a similar-sounding name, so he doesn’t get confused. Strays are given a name by us, but they haven’t usually had time to get used to it, so you could change it to anything you wished without any problems.


Be patient. Your dog will no doubt feel insecure. After all, he’s lost at least one owner before, so he may follow you around everywhere. He won’t want to lose you too! His insecurity may be more marked at night and he may bark at first when parted from you. Leave a dim light on, or a radio on low; sometimes a ticking clock or an old sweater smelling of you and placed next to him may help.Establish a routine: feeding, walks, toilet, etc. so that he learns to know what happens when. This will give him a sense of security and help him settle in.

Give him his own space, where his bed is and where he can retreat for some peace and quiet when he needs it. If you have young children, make that space somewhere where he can seek solace away from them when he wants.

Consider dog-training classes, particularly if he’s young and doesn’t appear to have had any previous formal training. You’ll meet other dog owners and pick up lots of tips. Remember, it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks, so you can go along whatever the age of your dog.

Once he has had a settling-in period, and this will vary, depending on his past experiences, but expect an average of a week or two, then he will become more confident. This is when you should start socialising him outside the home. Let him meet other people and other dogs, but always be vigilant until you can be sure of his reactions. Somebody may remind him of someone who has been cruel to him in the past, or he may have a dislike of a certain type of dog, due to a past experience. Be ready to step in and remove him from a situation. Always tell people that he’s a new rescue pet, so they can be more sensitive in approaching him; for instance quick movements towards him may make him think at first he is going to be hit. Gradually, you’ll both learn what to expect in given situations and eventually, you may even feel able to let him run off his lead in some places in the safe knowledge that he’ll return when you call because you’re the person he wants to be with and you’re leader of his “pack”.

Your new pet will be so pleased that he’s got a new home and somebody to love, that all he’ll want to do is please you. The more you help him to settle in, the quicker he’ll do it and the smoother the transition from rescue centre to home life will be. If you have any problems you don’t know how to handle, contact us and we’ll do our best to help. You should also receive a follow-up visit, or at least a phone call, from an Ark member of staff after a few weeks and they will also be more than willing to discuss any problems with you.

MOST OF ALL, ENJOY HIM and he’ll reward you with loads of fun and unconditional love and loyalty.

Yipee!! I am so happy, bouncing up and down with joy
today, at last, I’m bringing home a wuffly wolfy boy.
I have waited such a long time, had so many ups and downs
now it really doesn’t matter, my turn has come around.
It required so much assistance, preparation and advice
I sometimes wondered, would it happen? Doubted, once or twice
but at last the wait is over, and the carpenter has gone,
left a lovely big new dogflap, for the cats, a dog-proof run.
The others in our family will have to come to terms,
time to share the love around, a lesson they must learn;
but I have love for everyone, no need for them to worry,
there’s extra love, I used to give to my old, departed furry.That great big empty space, in the corner of the room
will have a great new doggy lying, sleeping, in it soon;
Soft doggy ears, and begging paws, this will be such bliss;
dinner, signalled by the clang, of an empty doggy dish.

I must thank everybody, for the comfort in my sorrow,
telling me he’s out there, waiting, in some bright tomorrow,
Searching through the rescues, assessing every one
for someone to fit my family, a new friend to take home.
Both of us are very grateful, that the Ark found we would fit.
Them pussy cats? Well hard luck, they’ll learn to live with it !!!