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The adoption process - things to know

We've collected together some useful advice about the adoption process and things you should/must consider.

Find out more about adopting a rescue GWP by completing this form.

Taking a dog from a poor background is a very compassionate thing to do and apart from the fact that the British people are a compassionate race we love an underdog! I sometimes think that people have a puppy to enjoy the cuteness and small dog energy, but sometimes when the dog becomes bigger that isn't such fun for them anymore. With a rescue dog you know the size. The humans have to adapt to the dog's energy and step into their paws to understand what has happened to this dog: if you stay open and listen the dog will tell you in time.

Most rescue dogs have closed down their emotional energy to protect themselves. In a group an older dog will often turn on a smaller/younger one to shut them down to show dominance. So the dog stays semi shut down as it doesn't attract unwanted attention.

Humans rarely have a lot of time in refuges to give enough attention or affection, so over a length of time the dog stops asking. Refuges are pretty boring for dogs, all activity during the day is overwhelmed by loud frantic barking of the majority of dogs and then long quiet night times. The noise is deafening and continuous. The poor food doesn't help them cope well.

When the dog is taken out of the refuge they face a vet check, a journey and then being dumped in a new environment. Even the best dog gets stressed and what happens at this point can make or break a new home relationship. Now the dog just needs space, time, love and to be left alone with an obvious place to feel safe and to sleep peacefully.

Dogs are pretty resilient and quickly recognise that they are in a good place and feel the peaceful calm energy. They have a lot to learn; smells, foods, humans, which way the doors open and shut ... and the reactions of the humans. Depending on each dog it may take a little time. This is not a time to train or test your new companion.

It will take several weeks for a dog to bond enough that it doesn't feel it's freedom and take off ... many may have come off the streets so it's kind of their other home. Wait until your dog is making good eye contact to start to encourage it to your lifestyle.

Over the months and the years you will enjoy every single step of the opening and joy this dog shows, and they will want you to share it. Rescue dogs are generally the happiest dogs, understanding they have a family of their own to love. That is every dog's dream.

Most of the dogs are found straying and handed in to authorities. Most don’t have a microchip, which is against the EU Law. When a rescue group see a dog they want to help, they need to pay a Release Fee to the Pound. In return the Pound will microchip the dog and add the new owner's details. Depending on the Pound, blood tests can be done, rabies shots might be given and even sterilising might be done.

Once the dog is out of the Pound the rescue will take it to their own vet to check the dog over and do anything not already done.

The dog can not travel until 21 days after its Rabies Vaccination. During that time it will be handled and assessed most days in the busy rescue kennels; most have large communal areas where the dogs can mix and play. This really helps each of them to become balanced so they stop being fearful, anxious, learn to socialise and put on condition.

Once the Adopter has confirmed that they want a particular dog, the dog is reserved and a date booked with transport as they have a month lead-in time. It can take longer during the busy season or depending on the location.

Within 5 days of the travel date each dog must attend the vet for a complete Health Check to ensure they are Fit To Travel. They also need a tapeworm treatment, since it's usually the same price as a multi-wormer, the multi-wormer is given.

Then into a van with up to 20 dogs for the drive to the UK. There are two men who take turns to drive, and who walk/feed/water the dogs every 4 hours as per DEFRA regulations. They drive from 8am till midnight and sleep with the dogs in the van. It takes two days from Spain to the UK. Once there they will drop each dog to it's new home, driving in a route that depends where everyone lives.

Most adopters will meet their rescue dog the first time when the transport delivers.

Stand back and allow the experienced transport crew to handle your dog until they give it to you. They will either take your harness and lead into the van and fit it onto your dog with the door shut, or they will allow you to add a harness while they firmly hold the lead on a collar.

These dogs are disoriented and can be overwhelmed by all the excitement so might attempt to escape without warning. It can be very easily for them to slip their collar with a yank backwards and twist, then charge head on into a moving car.

Whenever handling an unknown dog MAKE SURE ITS COLLAR IS TIGHT. Having a tight collar might be uncomfortable but it will not harm the dog and could save it's life. Try and pull the collar off to check it is tight (no slip leads).

When you get your dog into a car, if it is not in a crate, tie the lead to something firm in the car or give it to someone else, who must put their hand right through the lead handle. The same when you stop the car BEFORE you OPEN any door, make sure the dog is tied up and can not jump out.

Dogs who are scared when they run off, go into feral mode immediately and are very hard to catch, especially since they can travel fast and in any direction though undergrowth quickly out of sight.

You've adopted a rescued dog and you can't wait to get her home and introduce her to your family, friends and neighbours. Before you do, just stop for one moment and look at things from your dog's point of view.

If you've adopted an ex-street dog, this might be the first time she's ever had to enter a house. It's very common for ex street dogs to be wary of entering narrow doorways, and simple things like changes in floor surfaces (rugs, laminate, carpet) or a wobbly paving slab can be very challenging for your newly adopted dog.

Break things down and you can see there's a lot for your dog to consider and navigate before she's even set a paw inside your house!

Your dog's previous experience of being indoors might have involved a worrying visit to a vet clinic or a frightening overcrowded dog pound.

The clang of your metal gate might remind her of a dog trap. The shape of your nice shiny railings might evoke memories of being brutally captured with a catch pole. The smell of cigarettes or your household cleaning products could also elicit scary memories.

Whilst living on the streets she had good reason to be hyper-vigilant of anything new or unusual in her environment. Many ex-street dogs have experienced significant abuse and trauma.

While you are getting to know each other, please take extra care to take things slowly. Don't expect too much of her too soon.

We get that everyone wants to say hello, but please ask friends and relatives to be patient and come visit in a few weeks, when your dog has had time to explore your home, to trust you, gain confidence and feel safe. The neighbours and their kids might be super excited to meet your new family member but introductions can wait a while. Explain she needs time to rest and maybe show them a photo of her instead?

Many people can't wait to take their dog to the local park, but busy spaces and main roads can be overwhelming for newly adopted dogs. Walks can wait.

Please take things gently and let her explore your home, catch up on much needed sleep and if she is ready you can play gentle enrichment games at home.

Even if you've previously cared for a dog, please ensure you learn all you can about canine body language and behaviour so you can be aware of how your dog is feeling and what she's communicating to you.

If you are patient in these early days, weeks and months you will help give your dog a positive and gentle introduction to her wonderful new life.

Caring for Rescued ex Street Dogs 2017

Dogs that live in Spain and other hot countries are used to doors constantly being open, and the hot weather makes them seek shade so they sleep a lot during the day. Many countries are much bigger than England, so the villages are quieter and there is less traffic. The cats are smaller and there are more seen on the streets. People don't fence their gardens so cats and dogs can roam around freely.

When we bring dogs to the UK everything is busier and more crowded, more smells and more noise. A new rescue dog will need to start learning about his new home, which way the doors open and shut, and whether they swing freely. Sometimes doors will be firmly shut, and they will need to find a way to show they want to go outside. they may be surprised or alarmed when the washing machine kicks into cycle, or the TV has some one living in it!

Most dogs will watch and learn quickly, and they will imitate any resident dog, however if you can keep a routine it will help them to settle.

To speed up a strong bond feed all their food by hand, so they look to you and seek you out. Much as they may look OK on the outside, it is like being a new kid at school .. you watch and follow all the others, but inside you are nervous that you'll get it wrong, so while starting to train them give lots of reassurance. Make sure they receive lots of encouragement as they are having to learn how to accept lessons.

All dogs are different and all dogs react to other dogs. sometimes everyone become instant friends, other times they need to feel their way.

Before your new rescue arrives, take the resident dog out to a friends, or for a walk, or even just sitting in a spare car out of sight of the house/your voices.

Bring the new rescue into your house and allow them to familiarise themselves with where the rooms and doors are, and which way they open .. and the garden. They will automatically take on board the smell of other dogs and how recent, so watch for a tail wag.

Since your rescue will have been travelling, offer water outside in an open space, and any food by hand to start the bonding.

Then have a handler for residents and one for new rescue and arrange to meet in a public park where other dogs have been so it is neutral territory. The rescue must be on a lead as they might run away but it can be a long line.

Please make quite sure that the rescue's collar is tight enough that it will not slip over their head, and if possible add a harness with a separate lead and make sure your end is tied round your waist, so no chance of letting go for any reason. If they get scared and slip off they become feral and in a strange country might well be run over.

Try to arrange that both parties do not approach directly facing each other: come in two circles and join up and keep walking purposefully in the same direction so that the dogs naturally look forward where you are heading. Allow them to mooch along without forcing anything, and if all the signs are good allow the resident dog/s off the lead. Continue walking forward - it helps to walk along a hedge as the dogs will want to sniff.

If all looks good and energy is spent walk home together, and with no fuss enter your house. If you are worried leave a short lead attached to their collars trailing on the floor, as it is much easier to step on a lead to check a dog than grab a collar.

Be sure to feed in separate rooms the first few days, feeding the rescue by hand as that will help bond the rescue to you quicker.

3 Days, 3 Weeks, 3 Months

In the first 3 days your new dog will be overwhelmed with his new surroundings. He will not be comfortable enough to be himself. Don't be alarmed if he doesn't want to eat for the first couple of days, many dogs don't eat when they are stressed. He may shut down and want to curl up in his crate or under the table. He may be scared and unsure what is going on. Or he may be the opposite and test you to see what he can get away with, not unlike a teenager.

After 3 weeks he's starting to settle in, feeling more comfortable, and realising this really may be his forever home. He has figured out his environment and getting into the routine that you have set. He lets his guard down and may start showing his real personality. Behaviour issues may start showing, this is your time to be a strong pack leader and show him what is right and wrong.

After 3 months your dog is now comfortable in his home. You have built trust and a true bond with your dog, which gives him a complete sense of security with you. He is set in his routine and will come to expect his dinner at his usual time.

(Some dogs are so traumatised they need a lot longer than 3 months, but we'll have assessed this prior to suggesting a dog to an adopter).

by Sandra Jensen

The Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2014 states that from April 2016 all puppies must be microchipped by the age of 8 weeks. The first microchip shall be registered to the breeder. Changes in registration should be recorded within two weeks or incur a £500 fine.

It is the responsibility of the owner to keep the information up to date on the Database.

There are 15 DEFRA compliant pet microchip databases in the UK. They co-operate with each other so if you search one you're searching them all.

GWPneedUKhome uses PETTRAC and we use dual registration which records the owner and ourselves as Contacts.