Our Top Tips For Adopting A Rescue dog

Thinking of welcoming a rescue dog into your pack? We like your style!

We’ve made it our mission to #NourishEveryDog by donating over 2 million meals to over 250 charities, but there’s nothing a rescue dog wants more than to find their forever home.

Adopting a rescue dog is incredibly rewarding, but there’s lots to think about. That’s why we’ve partnered with Woodgreen Pets Charity – a charity we’re proud to have supported through #NourishEveryDog – to share our top tips for those thinking of adopting a rescue dog.


Staying smart with money

There’s no doubt about it, dogs can be expensive. Start by taking the time to work through costs and decide if you can realistically afford a dog. Dogs are a long-term financial commitment, so it’s worth thinking about both now and the future. This will help you feel more confident about providing a safe and comfortable home for your new family member.

Whilst every dog is different, Woodgreen estimates that it can cost around £100 per dog, per month, in addition to the up-front expenses.

Here are the main costs to think about:

  • Pet insurance and/or vet costs
  • Leads, collars and identity tags
  • Beds, bowls and toys
  • Initial vaccinations and the subsequent boosters
  • Microchipping
  • Nourishing dog food
  • Neutering
  • Kennel or dog-sitting fees for holidays
  • Car restraints
  • Regular worming and flea treatments

One thing money can’t buy is time, so you should also consider whether you have the time to give the love, care and attention that your rescue dog deserves.

Staff member with rescue dog at Woodgreen Pets Charity

Finding your ‘paw-fect’ match

Choosing a dog that’s right for you is one of our most important tips when it comes to adopting a rescue dog.

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, with different characteristics, exercise and grooming requirements. Be sure to opt for a rescue dog that suits your lifestyle and your home environment.

If you’re an active family, an energetic breed like a Labrador could be suitable. Those in the city with a smaller living space may find smaller breeds, like Maltese, a good option.

It’s also worth considering the age of the dog; do you want an energetic younger pup or an older dog, who is likely to be calmer and have mastered the basic commands?

Your local rescue centre should tell you which environment a dog would be best in, plus whether they are good with other animals and children. But to get you started, take a look at our top tips for finding the right breed for you here.

Golden Retriever Proudly Sitting Next To A Stack Of Butcher's Dog Food

Thinking about food

Good food = good mood!

The charity you’re adopting your dog from will share specific advice and information related to your dog’s food needs.

If you’re planning on changing your dog’s diet, make sure they’re settled into their forever home first and then change their food gradually to help prevent an upset stomach. Try mixing a small amount of their new food in with their old food, increasing the amount of their new food over a week to 10 days.

A tasty complete and balanced food will get your dog’s tail wagging and give you the reassurance that they’re getting all the nutrients they need to stay happy and healthy.

All of our nourishing food for dogs is 100% complete and balanced and made with natural ingredients and British & Irish produce. Wet dog food has many benefits, including that it’s easier to eat and provides natural nutrition and hydration. Remember to ensure that fresh, room-temperature drinking water is always available too.

The amount of food needed is different for every dog as calorie requirements can be influenced by age, breed, sex, neuter status and activity level. Use the guide on the back of your dog’s food as a starting point, but regularly check their body condition to ensure you’re not over or under-feeding. Our Nutritionist, Sara, has plenty of other tips on managing your dog’s weight here.


Rescue Dog At Woodgreen Pets Charity

Getting your home ready

Your dog needs a stable home full of lots of love. They’re part of the family so a warm bed, nutritious food and plenty of toys are all essentials on the tick list. If your new four-legged friend is over 4 months old, try popping a Naturally Meaty Treat in their bed to help them see this as a happy, safe place.

It’s also key to dog-proof your home. Lock away medicine and cleaning products, keep chairs away from worktops (to prevent climbing) and tidy up wires and cables. Remember, anything left on the floor is up for grabs in your dog’s eyes.

If you have a garden or outdoor space, be sure to secure any fencing and check for toxic plants too. Find more information in our blog that’ll help with your mini risk ‘paw-sessment’.

Family introductions

Dogs are sociable animals that live on average between 8-16 years, depending on the breed, and require daily exercise and stimulation. Many rescue dogs can’t cope being home alone for hours every day and need plenty of time and attention from their new owners. You should also consider other people in your household, particularly children, and any other pets. Ensure that your home is a safe environment for everyone within it, and make time to consider the best way to introduce your new pet to everyone at home!


Dog with tennis ball at the beach

Keeping your four-legged friend happy

Exercise and playtime are really important and ideally, your rescue dog will enjoy two good walks a day.

Some time off the lead on your walkies will give your dog the chance to explore. However, it’s worth finding a local, secure training field to test their recall and practice their training first. If your rescue centre advises that your dog can’t have off-lead walks, try using a longline instead so they can still explore without the risk of them running off.

If their background and personality allow, it’s good for them to be social with other dogs and people. This should be done calmly and gradually. Habituation is just as important too, which means getting your dog used to things as part of their environment – like livestock and traffic. It’s a good idea to habituate them to other dogs and people too, so they check in with you for a treat rather than excitedly chasing off after everyone and everything!

Don’t forget about mental stimulation either. It keeps their brain busy and helps with training and confidence during alone time. Whether through training classes, food-based activity toys or fun agility games, keep your dog sharp and engaged through play and enrichment. And remember, different breeds will have different activity levels and needs.

Phew! After all that busyness and fun, make sure your pup has somewhere quiet at home so they can rest and relax too.

Black Labrador Dog Looking Happy

Making sure they stay healthy

When you bring your rescue dog home, register them with a vet as soon as possible. Treatments can be expensive, so pet insurance is advisable – just be sure to do your research and ask for recommendations or advice from a professional.

Make sure you keep up to date with your dog’s yearly vaccinations that protect them against nasty diseases and regularly use flea and worm treatments to prevent any infestations. 

We hope these tips have helped, but if you’re looking for more advice, Woodgreen are offering a free e-workshop. It guides you through the big things, from costs and exercise requirements to whether a puppy or an older dog would be right for you.

It’s key that you’ve done your research before you make the commitment of welcoming a dog into their forever home. So, get the family together and click here to get started.



Plenty of tips on ways to keep your dog happy and healthy. Plus exclusive competitions!

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