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Rescuing a Puppy for Beginners: Everything You Need To Know

Congratulations! There’s nothing more day brightening and joyous than rescuing a puppy from a shelter. Every dog needs a forever home, and you can provide that home for a new puppy if you contact a local animal shelter in your area.

However, rescuing a puppy is a big deal, and new pet parents may not know what to expect or what they have to prepare beforehand. Today, let’s break down everything beginners need to know about rescuing a puppy step-by-step.

Where Do You Get a Rescue Puppy?

It’s better to adopt a new puppy from a shelter or vet facility instead of a pet store. Many of the litters you see at a pet store are from puppy mills. These breeders keep their puppy mill dogs in cages and don't provide them a loving life or adequate veterinary care.

Look up the contact information for your local humane society. They will likely have recommendations on where to find a rescue dog that will adapt to your family and lifestyle.

Additionally, if you are a volunteer at a local rescue, you may come across a dog you might not have picked at first blush. A seemingly fearful dog might just need some kind of support to blossom into a best friend for life.

Each and Every Puppy Are Unique

Deciding to rescue a puppy can be exciting! But you should also keep your expectations tempered. Don’t go into this experience imagining your puppy will behave a certain way or be a certain type of companion.

Just like people, every puppy has a unique personality and specific wants, needs, and fears. No two puppies are alike, so it’s best to go into the puppy rescuing experience with an open mind. Let yourself connect with a puppy who seems like they would be a good friend or playmate — don’t try to look for a specific type of puppy with set personality traits.

Prep Your Home for a New Puppy

Before you get a puppy, you should also prepare your home for their arrival. Puppies are rambunctious, messy little critters. As their new pet parent, you are there to protect them from the risks.

So, what exactly should you do? Here are a couple of ideas:

  • For starters, be sure to secure all medications and chemicals. Put them away so your puppy can’t get into anything they shouldn’t be eating or drinking (note that this tip also goes for food and drinks).
  • Get some trash cans with lockable lids. At the very least, cover your trash cans so your puppy can’t get into the garbage. The scent is very interesting to them.
  • Consider getting plug covers for wall sockets so your puppy can’t lick them. Similarly, put away any cords or electronics you don’t want to be chewed on.
  • Check your home for poisonous houseplants. These can include lilies, spider plants, jade plants, and more. It’s best to avoid acquiring new houseplants until you know for sure that they won’t be poisonous to your new dog.
  • Set up a space for your new puppy that they can call their own. Ideally, this will be where you place your puppy's crate, which will serve both as their sleeping area and as a place of rest and relaxation for your canine companion.

By taking the time to prep your home, you’ll have a much easier time adopting a new puppy and fewer messes to clean up.

Have Puppy Supplies Ready Before Adoption

Similarly, you should make sure you purchase several materials ready before you adopt a new dog.

These materials can include but are not limited to:

  • Stainless steel water and food bowls
  • A dog crate
  • A dog bed. Wild One’s Dog Bed is a perfect choice for a pup about to be pampered! It’s made with tiered foam for added comfort and features side rails for excellent snuggling. It even comes with a water-resistant lining, so it’s perfect for puppies who may still be learning how to hold their bladders.
  • A leash and harness kit so you can start training your dog how to walk properly right from the beginning. Our Harness Kit includes all of the on-the-go essentials you need to start training your dog and taking them on walks from the get-go. It includes a comfortable leash, an ultra-comfortable, lightweight dog harness, and even a poop bag carrier.
  • Plenty of puppy toys. Puppies love to play; toys are a safe way to expel their energy.
  • A collar with an ID tag (note that this should be used along with a microchip).
  • Treats. Healthy treats are invaluable when training your puppy about the basics of sit, stay, and other core commands.
  • Consider getting a clicker training tool. Clicker training can be useful when teaching your dog more advanced commands.

This is just a basic list of all the things you need to buy for your puppy sooner or later. Remember, adopting a puppy is expensive not just in the short term but in the long term as well. If you can’t afford to spend a few hundred dollars on your puppy every month for at least the first couple of years of life, you should hold off until you have that financial flexibility.

Ask About Puppy Records and Vaccination Information

Whether you adopt your puppy from a vet center or from a shelter, be sure to ask about their medical records and any vaccine information. This will tell you how quickly your puppy needs to visit a vet for their shots and whether they can socialize with other puppies when you rescue them.

It’s irresponsible to let your puppy play with others if they haven’t been vaccinated. So if your new puppy rescue doesn’t have any medical protections yet, make this a priority and get them vaccinated ASAP.

Note that some vet centers will cover the cost of vaccinations and other medical treatments as part of your adoption fee.

Puppies Take Tons of Training

No matter the breed of puppy you get, keep in mind that they will require tons of training in order to become a polite canine companion at your side.

It’s quite normal for a puppy to be a bit rambunctious and silly in their earliest months. Don’t be surprised if your puppy chews on something they shouldn’t or gets into things that they should avoid.

Furthermore, don’t get mad at your puppy if they can’t hold their bladder. Potty training should take a top priority since most puppies can only hold their bladders for a few hours when they’re little.

Ideally, you should practice positive reinforcement training methods when training your new dog. Positive reinforcement is much more successful than snapping at your dog when they do something wrong. Instead of focusing on mistakes, remind your dog of what they should do and praise and reward them heavily when they follow through with your requests.

A Little Separation Anxiety or Adjustment is Normal

After you bring your puppy home, you might find that they seem a little down or depressed, especially if they had siblings or parents at the vet center or shelter where you adopted them from. Alternatively, maybe your puppy will feel scared or whine if you ever leave their presence.

Both of these emotional reactions are totally normal, and you shouldn’t worry if your puppy displays one or both of them. Fortunately, your puppy should grow out of these juvenile emotional responses relatively quickly, especially as they acclimate to their new environment.

If your puppy is having trouble adjusting, be sure to spend lots of time with them and play with plush chew toys. Giving your puppy new, positive experiences in their home is the best way to convince them that they really are safe and can feel comfortable at your house. If your new puppy is having a difficult transition, seek out a qualified dog trainer for help.

Commit To Your New Family Member

Lastly, ask yourself whether you really want a dog in the long term. Puppies are certainly adorable, but they only stay in the puppy stage for a few months before they grow larger and become even more energetic.

Dogs can live for well over a decade or more, so be sure that you want a long-term companion before rescuing a puppy and taking them away from their parents.

Mission: Bringing Your Dog Home

Ultimately, rescuing a new pup is a great thing; it’s so exciting that you’ve decided to give a puppy a forever home at your house. Just be sure you’re ready for the responsibility and that you prepare everything beforehand. This way, the rescuing experience will be smooth, and you’ll have nothing but good memories for the first cute months of your puppy’s life.

Plus, grabbing everything you need to make your puppy’s first experience at home enjoyable and safe is easier than ever with Wild One. Check out our online store for everything you might need for your pup, ranging from treats to collars to harnesses to beds and bowls and more.


Separation Anxiety | ASPCA

Vaccinations for Your Pet | ASPCA

Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants | ASPCA

Where to get a puppy | The Humane Society of the United States

Positive Rewards Dog Training Tips | AKC

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