Best items for rescue dogs: Everything they need when joining a new home


ringing a pet home is always an exciting time but giving a rescue dog a second chance is a very special moment that changes a life. Whether you’re adopting from a UK shelter or a pup from overseas, searching online can bring up endless results for gizmos and gadgets that claim to be just the thing to make your dog happy.

It can be a costly surprise to realise that a lot of these items won’t be necessary in the early days; as any dog parent will tell you, there are essential items that you will use again and again, and things that will end up being thrown away, ignored, or chewed to bits.

Rescuing a dog can present different challenges in comparison to bringing home a puppy, but it is also incredibly rewarding. “A rescue dog may have a favourite toy or blanket that will help it to settle into a new home, or they may love laying on a nice comfy bed in a quiet space,” says Rob Bays, Canine Training and Behaviour Manager at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.

“The first few weeks can be a demanding time for both the pet and owner but with time and effort, together you can overcome most things,” says Karen Heski, Head of Pets at Pets at Home.

Enrichment toys are recommended by Bay and Heski, as they will keep your new addition stimulated and happy, whether it’s for slowing them down when eating, or keeping their brain cells ticking over figuring out how to get a well-earned treat.

Get a headstart with your pet by investing in these must-have items to make the transition period easier…

Lickimat Buddy


This sturdy mat will keep your new rescue dog busy, which can help them to settle in and even aid with separation anxiety (where panic sets in when you leave) as a positive distraction. Simply put a healthy soft treat over the surface of the mat with the back of a spoon or a plastic scraper, embedding it in the surface. You can even freeze the mat to make it last longer.

Got a chewer? These mats can withstand a lot of attention. Treat ideas include peanut butter (make sure it doesn’t contain Xylitol) and shredded apple, wet dog food, cream cheese, yoghurt and dog-friendly fruit.

Kong Classic


Kong is the gold standard when it comes to dog toys. A name synonymous with quality, they’re built to last even the most determined rescue dog. Forget the classic dog bowl, the brand will make even the humblest pup’s dinner into a learning experience. Made out of rubber, the Kong ball is ultra-durable and super-bouncy, so is perfect for dogs that like to chew. It also fulfils your rescue dog’s need to play. Outside of meal times, it can be used to hide tasty treats inside to keep them busy and motivated. It comes in a range of sizes – whether your new addition is the size of a Chihuahua or a German Shepherd.

Adaptil Calm Home Diffuser


Those first few days and weeks at home can be crucial for helping your new rescue dog settle. It can understandably be an overwhelming and confusing time for a new pup. Adaptil’s Calm Home Diffuser mimics the pheromones of a mother dog which will help your pet relax.

It’s easy to set up: remove the lid, screw the vial onto the diffuser unit and plug it into an electric socket. The idea is to leave the diffuser switched on continuously and each diffuser covers an area up to 70 square metres. One thing to be mindful of is positioning, as if it’s plugged in under shelves, behind doors, curtains or furniture it will not work properly as it can’t circulate.

Piddle Patch

Piddle Patch

Housetraining is an essential skill to learn and many rescue dogs need to be taught how to navigate the house. It’s not just puppies either, many senior dogs who have spent a long time in the shelter probably won’t have learned where to go. Instead of the classic white pee pad of old, the Piddle Patch is a real grass dog toilet, grown in a liquid-retentive mat. The fact it has real grass will signal to your dog to go (my rescue pup used it within seconds of arriving home) and is ideal if you live in a flat or don’t have a garden. A metal tray can be purchased to provide leakproof security and regular delivery subscriptions are available. It recently featured on Dragon’s Den and caught the eye of investor Steven Bartlett.

Sweet William Dog Tag


One of the most important and legally required things to do for your new rescue dog’s arrival is preparing a name tag for them. The Control of Dogs Order 1992 states that any dog in a public place must wear a collar with the name and address of the owner engraved or written on it. Sweet William does an array of dog tags made from silver plated brass, from the cute to the funny. There is space on the back for your information to be engraved.

FYI: Dogs must also be microchipped and registered.

Hownds Relaxing Spray and Foam Wash Dry Shampoo


Chances are your new rescue dog won’t smell like a bed of roses when they arrive. The last thing you want to be doing is putting them through a bath before they’ve settled in. In the meantime, a lavender and patchouli scented spray can make your new friend smell a little fresher, as well as calming and relaxing them.

Dry shampoo isn’t just for humans at festivals, this clever foam version can help when your pup is really grubby. Simply dispense the foam, stroke it into your dog’s fur and leave it, no need to rinse. These are pH-balanced, plant based and cruelty-free. The wash includes Aloe Vera, Camomile and Pro-Vitamin B5, and will leave your dog’s fur feeling soft and smelling more pleasant.

Lily’s Kitchen Bedtime Biscuits

Lily’s Kitchen

A good night’s sleep is the best way to help your dog settle in. A Lily’s Kitchen Bedtime Biscuit before they doze off will help them to relax and learn that it’s time to take a well-deserved rest. These biscuits are oven baked to make them crunchy and help keep teeth clean. The ingredients include probiotics such as honey and yoghurt to provide a source of good bacteria for gut health. There’s also chamomile and passion flowers to calm and soothe and encourage your dog to have a good night’s sleep (which will help you too). The treats come in recyclable packaging and are resealable.

Halti Training Lead


Many rescue dogs won’t have had much, if any, lead training, especially if coming from overseas. The early days are when they’re at high flight risk of running away out of fear. Double leading is recommended with a clip on lead and a slip lead. However, this Halti training lead has clips on both ends so it can be doubled up and attached to both a collar and a harness for extra security as you start your walks.

It has several handles at different points of the lead, allowing you to reach down and hold the dog close near a road, for example. Halti are one of the biggest names when it comes to walking your pooch, and provide various devices that can help with over-eager pullers when out on a stroll. It can even be used for hands-free walking too.

Walkie Mountains Snuffle Mat

Snuffle Mat

If your rescue pet has lived in a shelter with many other dogs, they may eat very quickly to guard their food. To prevent them from wolfing it down, sprinkling their food in a snuffle mat can slow down the process. Their sense of smell is a thousand times stronger than ours so just 20 minutes of sniffing is equivalent to an hour’s walk in terms of enrichment for your dog. Walkie Mountains makes custom snuffle mats for you in a variety of colours to suit your style with more than 30 shades to choose from. They come in mini, small, and large, and are machine washable. You can also hide treats in them for a fun game.

Voyager Harness


When taking your rescue dog out for walks or to the toilet if you don’t have a garden, it’s essential to know that they’re secure and comfortable. Combined with the Halti training lead and a collar with a dog tag on, a harness can be more comfortable for many dogs when walking. Voyager does a range of step-in harnesses, which can make the process of putting one on less stressful for your dog than some of the over-the-head styles. They come in an array of colours with reflective stitching to ensure your four-legged-friend can be seen at night too. They are washable and breathable too. Be sure to measure your pet correctly around their chest and neck to ensure a comfortable fit.

The Book Your Dog Wishes You Would Read by Louise Glazebrook


The Book Your Dog Wishes You Would Read is a must-have bible for any pooch owner and a reassuring read for anyone on a rescue dog journey. It has salient information for finding the right match, so even if you’re at the early stages of thinking about getting a pup, it will guide you in the right direction. Author Louise Glazebrook is a leading dog behaviourist and has spent the last 12 years working with them. She has regularly appeared on TV for her expertise, and now it’s all condensed in one place with tips and tricks to make your life easier and for your new dog to be as happy as they can be. It covers everything from dog body language and introducing your pet to children, to end-of-life care. This book will help every step of the way.

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