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Adopting a RATS dog- What to expect at your home check

Firstly, please don’t feel nervous. The purpose of your home check is to ensure that your new dog will be living in a safe and secure home, and that you are happy, comfortable and ready to become a “paw-rent.” Your home checker will be able to provide you with lots of advice and tips relating specifically to your home and to your individual situation and circumstances.

Please make sure that everyone living in your household is present on the day of your home check, and please make sure that you have ID as well as proof of your address (for example a driving license, a bank or credit card statement, a utility bill or a letter from the council).

During the visit, your home checker might advise/discuss some of the following with you. Even if it isn't discussed at your visit, the below is in any case very helpful guidance/considerations for a new dog owner.

  • Have you thought about when you will walk and play with your dog each day? Dogs like routine and it’s particularly important for a rescue dog, to help them to feel safe and secure.

  • Do you have someone who can look after your dog if you have an emergency?

  • Are you prepared to clean up after a shedding dog? Have you thought about the need to move things out of the dog’s reach? If your dog chews carpets, shoes, table legs etc, how will you deal with this?

  • What would you do if your new dog is struggling to adjust to you and your home?

  • Dogs are like children – you must educate and guide them. Are you willing to take the time to teach them acceptable behaviour with consistent, positive reinforcement?

  • How are you planning to transport your dog? Use a crate or a secure harness and seatbelt. Have your hand on the lead before opening the car door. Don’t let your dog stick his/her head out the window whilst you’re driving.

  • Feed your dog on a set schedule, typically twice a day. To prevent fights, feed pets separately.

  • Hold your dog’s collar before opening the front door. Don’t let your new dog off the lead until you are confident that his/her recall is very strong.

  • As soon as you bring your new dog home, show him/her where to go to the toilet. Praise him/her when they go there.

  • Even house trained dogs have accidents, ranging from marking to diarrhoea, especially in new environments. Be prepared with plenty of paper towels and cleaning products. Never punish your dog for an accident in the house.

  • On the first day, don’t stay with your dog the whole time – that leads to separation anxiety. Leave him/her for short periods. Gradually increase the time.

  • When leaving your dog, make sure he/she has safe toys. Chewing is normal dog behaviour.

  • Don’t play tug-of-war or wrestle with your new dog; this induces aggression.

  • Your dog will need year-round flea/worm treatment and annual vaccinations.

Taking a dog's eye view of your home, we will basically performing a type of "risk assessment" to ensure their safety, making suggestions of adapations and fixes/repairs where appropriate. The below guidance is exactly what your home checker will have been provided with him/herself.

  • Proximity of home to busy roads.

  • Front door: Suggest places to install a baby gate or other barrier to prevent escapes if needed.

  • Doors which lead outside: Check all latches and suggest repair if needed.

  • Windows: A dog may jump through an open window, to chase an animal for example. Block access to low-lying windows.

  • Move/remove cables and wires where a pet can get tangled or strangled or chew. Conceal or unplug potential hazards. Cover open outlet holes.

  • Open-structure stairs or open railings where a small dog can fall through. These may need to be screened or blocked.

  • Kitchen: Floor level cabinets should be secured, keep toxic products out of the dog’s reach. Keep dishwashers closed; pets can climb in or ingest detergent.

  • Remove heaters and electric appliances from the floor.

  • Remove valuables, glass and ornaments from surfaces where the dog might be able to knock them over.

  • Balconies and decks: Is chicken fencing or another barrier needed to prevent the dog from slipping through?

  • Basements: check for tools, cables etc that a dog could hurt themselves on. Block access to pumps, appliances etc.

  • Garages, workshops and sheds: Access should be blocked to these places at all times (particularly if they are used to store poison and antifreeze).

  • Outdoor gates: Are the latches secure? Can the gates be knocked open by a dog or passer-by?

  • Fences: Look for loose boards and gaps. Is chicken wire needed in addition? Find out height requirement for the specific dog before the visit (usually 6ft). Dogs can learn to climb over chain-link fences.

  • Swimming pools: Need to be fenced off or covered with a sturdy pool cover. Pools will also need graded steps rather than a ladder.

Hopefully, this will help you to feel comfortable and confident about your home check, and to make sure that your home is suitably "dog-proof."

We sometimes take photos during the visit for our records and please bear in mind that your home checker won't be able to confirm whether you have passed your home check on the day itself. You will be contacted within seven days at the latest by the adoption coordinator.

Any questions about your home check? Please feel free to ask our team :-)

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