It’s so lovely to hear you’ve got a new rescue puppy at home. We bet they’re feeling just as good as you! But we understand the process of getting started in your new lives together can be a little more challenging than you thought. 

But there’s no need to worry, we’re here for the rescue. In this article, we’ll be telling you all about:

  • How to settle your new rescue puppy into your home
  • How long it can take your rescue puppy to settle in
  • The best place for your rescue puppy to sleep
  • How to train a rescue dog
  • What food to feed your new rescue puppy
  • The main differences between bringing home a juvenile puppy vs an adolescent puppy

Off we go!

small sausage dog sat on armchair
Photo by Carissa Weiser on Unsplash

How to settle your rescue puppy into your new home

The time has come! You’re bringing home your new puppy so how is best to settle them in? 

Keep your expectations low

Let’s be honest…you’ll probably have to get realistic with your expectations. A rescue puppy is likely to have experienced quite a lot already in their short lives, so the first few weeks can feel very overwhelming for them. For you, this means giving them space, patience and lots of love.

Get into a routine

Puppies love to know what comes next in their day to day life, and routines can definitely do that. Especially after the hectic adventures your rescue puppy probably had before arriving at your place, these will suit them well. They’ll help with toilet training, sleep training and understanding what’s expected of them.

Socialise slowly 

Your rescue puppy is in no rush to make new friends, so let’s start slow. Our article on puppy socialisation gives you a good guide on how to introduce your puppy to the big world.

Stay positive

Keep smiling! With a positive attitude, nothing can get in your way. Not even stinky accidents.

Be patient

Give it time. It can take a little while for things to click into place and for you to bond with your new rescue puppy. Remember that love is like a fart; if you force it, it comes out like poo. Don’t worry, they’ll come round in their own time.

How long can it take for a rescue dog to settle in?

There’s a saying for rescue dogs called ‘The Rule of Three,’. It’s not set in stone or anything, but it’s a good one to think about when you’re wondering how long it will take for your new rescue dog to settle in. It goes like this: 

Rescue dogs are said to need three days to decompress, three weeks to get used to your schedule, and three months to truly feel at home. In the grand scheme of things, 3 months isn’t that long to acquire a new member of the family, right?

Rescue puppies are more of a clean slate than an older dog who may have spent time on the streets or at a rescue shelter, but it’s still true that it can take them a while to find their feet, so be patient and give them time. The best is yet to come!

Where is the best place for my rescue puppy to sleep? 

Take the rescue’s opinion on this, but in general, we’d say next to your bed, in a crate or their bed. 

You want those first few nights at home to be as stress-free and restful as possible for everyone, and your new puppy will feel safest when they are near to you. It will also be easier to hear when they need to go to the toilet, which will aid in overnight toilet training.

dog giving puppy eyes
Photo by Bharathi Kannan on Unsplash

How to train your new rescue dog

Positive reinforcement training is the key to training your rescue puppy. Through love, play and treats, positive reinforcement training helps puppies learn that you are amazing, and have a well-deserved place in the world. It’s not corny, okay? It’s just a fact.

If you want to know what you should train your rescue puppy to do first, we’ve figured it out in the Zigzag Puppy Training app. It’s pretty much the same as any puppy from a breeder:

What food to feed your new rescue puppy

The rescue or shelter will typically tell you what kind of food your puppy has been eating and may even give you some to take home with you. At the start, giving them the same food is important to ensure they don’t get sick and runny poo. 

Especially for the first few weeks, it’s quite normal for them to be a bit worried so you want to keep upset stomachs to a minimum. If you need more advice on puppy nutrition, our article has some good tips. 

Bringing home a juvenile puppy VS an adolescent puppy

Yes, weird terms also exist in the puppy world. Pups under the age of six months are called juvenile puppies, while puppies aged six to eighteen months are called adolescent puppies. They grow fast, don’t they?

Their age will make a difference as to what your experience will be like when you take them home since it largely depends on what they’ve gone through before rehoming.

On the one hand, an older puppy that is 7 or 8 months old may already be toilet trained and already show many of the personality qualities that will stick as they age, which lets you predict what they will be like as an adult dog.

Adolescent puppies are often closer to adult weight and size, so you can get a better idea of how big they’ll grow up to be. Oh, and you’ll probably want to know this though – adolescence is called “the teenage phase” for a reason. This stage of development can be difficult for both your puppy since they’ll be going through a lot of confusing changes with their emotions and hormones, and for us, the owners who will be on the receiving end of it!

Sadly, older puppies may have been neglected or abused, so they may have a distrust of humans. Working through this can be a very rewarding experience, and the joy of bringing up a rescue dog from shy to confident is enormous! But yes, the path can be a little rocky. But you can make it.

Whether you rescue a very young juvenile puppy who is a completely blank slate or an older puppy who may have some ‘history,’ training with positive reinforcement, settling them into a new routine, and giving them plenty of your time and patience will all work out well. Even more with Zigzag by your side, just you wait and see.

two dogs sleeping on sofa
Photo by Mark Zamora on Unsplash

Our team of puppy training experts are available to talk to you at any time, day or night, about any ‘paw-nic’ moments you’re having with your new rescue puppy.