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August 2020

Bringing Home Your Rescue Pet: Tips & Preparation


You’re ready to commit to adopting a pet, now what? Just like you would prepare your home for the arrival of a new baby, it’s also essential to make adequate preparations for the arrival of your new animal family member. Given you’re rescuing a pet, you do want to make sure you have the right info you need to make your new pet feel comfortable during this transition.

Before picking up your new pet, you’ll need to think about early preparation, travelling home and settling in. While each type of rescue animal will have unique and specific needs, this quick guide will remind you of the basics.

Important note: Always speak to the shelter, foster carer or rescue group member to ensure you’re tailoring this guide to the specific needs of your rescue pet.


Preparation includes everything from ensuring you have the right products, to thinking about the set-up of your space at home, including animal proofing your home. Some rescue pets will come with their own quirks, pre-existing health conditions and needs, which is something you should make sure you have information about before making the journey home. Just make you speak to the rescue group for any advice that might help you bring your pet home in the safest way possible.

Your Home Set Up

Make sure you’ve figured out where your pet will sleep and live, and whether you need any additional security or confinement accessories. For dogs or cats, this includes everything from a properly fitted harness to a crate or pet pen. A pet pen isn’t just for dogs or cats; you can also use one as temporary and portable confinement for small animals.

The Product Checklist

When you arrive home with your new rescue pet, you want to make sure you’ve got all the basics to help you through not only the first night but following weeks or years.

1. Collar, lead and harness - Not all animals will require a lead, harness and a collar, but dogs and cats definitely do. Some rescue organisations won’t allow you to take home your pet if you don’t have these essentials on hand when planning to transport your animal in the car. Make sure you have these items covered at least on the day of picking your pet up.

2. Bowls and feeders - These are the real basics, and you should definitely ensure you have all the necessary food and water bowls required, along with any feeders for your pet. This will vary depending the type of animal you’re adopting.

3. Housing - Every pet requires the right housing to suit their needs, and it’s an absolute must before you bring your pet home – unless you’re up for a last-minute trip to the shop? This includes a kennel, hutch, indoor or outdoor bedding, enclosures and tanks.

4. Crates, carriers and pet pens - Not everyone will use a crate for their dog, but they do offer dogs a safe-haven and a place for time out. Carriers are perfect for cats and dogs when travelling to the vet or other locations, and they can act as crates depending on the product type. Pet pens can also provide the same benefits, but with additional space for movement and play, plus suitable for a range of pets. When you’re first introducing a rescue pet to your home, these products can help protect your home from damage but also help your pet feel safe.

5. ID tag - You may have this on the back burner, but getting an ID tag before bringing your pet home can ensure your new pet – who is still settling in – can be easily returned to you if they go wandering outside your property. Some rescue animals will have a harder time adjusting to their new environment, so it’s really important you make the effort to think of these smaller items that could make a big difference.

6. Toys - You’ll want to make sure your new rescue pet has some form of enrichment when you’re unavailable or unable to engage with them, and toys are great for many types of animals. They not only can provide comfort but can also provide a fun challenge for your pet. You really don’t want to learn the hard way and your favourite shoes in pieces, or wall skirting scratched up.

Travelling Home Safely

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Before you venture out to pick up your pet, you’ll need to be prepared to transport him/her with the proper pet travel essentials. It’s also important to remember that some animals don’t like car travel, or have never been in a car, so it’s a good idea to have someone else with you to help with some of the logistics.

Note: it’s illegal to drive with a dog on your lap, or where they can be a distraction to a driver. And in some states, it is illegal to have an unrestrained animal in a vehicle

Products to assist your journey:

Settling In Your Rescue Pet

Bringing home your rescue pet for the first time is really exciting! However, remember to behave calmly around your pet, as they will be very wary of their new surroundings. Allow your adopted pet to explore their new environment in their own time and make sure children give him or her the space they need to settle in slowly over the days ahead.

Quick tips to remember:

  • Block off areas you don’t want your pet to venture.
  • Spread the love equally between your new pet and your current pet.
  • Keep feeding your new pet what they were already being fed at the shelter or foster home, and if you wish to change their diet, do so slowly, over the cause of about two weeks.
  • Treat your new pet! This will help you develop and strengthen your bond over time.

Introducing your current dog to your adopted rescue dog

It’s best to introduce them slowly, sometimes outside of the home environment, and let them sniff each other. Taking them for a walk together is always a good icebreaker as well. Don’t leave them alone unsupervised this early on and remove all items your first dog may be protective over such as toys or food, as your dog might react aggressively to the new dog, even if they have never shown this behaviour before.

Have You Adopted A Rescue Puppy Or Kitten?

PETstock VET offers a free check-up to all new puppies and kittens under 16 weeks old. This check-up will allow you to check the overall health of the puppy or kitten you have adopted and offers you the opportunity to ask any questions you have about looking after your new family member. While you at the check-up, you should ask the vet about diet and health tips.

Now that you’ve got some tips on preparation, travelling home and settling in your new rescue pet, you’re now ready to begin your new life together. If you need more health, behavioural or product advice, keep reading the Pet Smarts blog.