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We are looking to get a puppy and are seriously thinking of getting a rescue one. Our concern is that a rescue puppy may not have had the best start in life. Is there anything you recommend doing when we visit the rescue centre? How can we make sure a rescue pup grows up with no behavioural problems?

Sue Williams advises…

It is fantastic that you are looking to give a home to a rescue puppy. There can be some challenges to consider but that said, thousands of puppies are rehomed each year and grow up into well-rounded individuals.

In my experience, rescue homes do an amazing job to ensure they give puppies in their care the best they can including socialising them. Although many are kept in kennels and the situation is often not perfect, they do the best they can to ensure pups are given the best possible start.

Remember that all pups are individuals. Some thrive in this situation whereas others, who are often more sensitive, may not. When you visit the centre, chat to staff and find out as much as possible about the pup’s character and any background information. The parents may not be known and many will be mixed breeds. This can make it harder to predict physical attributes, such as adult size, shape and any breed characteristic behaviours.

Many rescue pups are reared in kennels so have had limited, if any, exposure to everyday life in a home. You need to be aware of this and make sure you don’t overwhelm or frighten your puppy when you take him home. Instead, take time to introduce and expose him to things he may be unfamiliar with, such as vacuum cleaners and washing machines.

With all pups, socialisation is arguably the most critical thing to do. This is even more important with a rescued puppy. Be careful to do this, ensuring the pup has positive experiences, which build confidence.

The most important thing is to be patient, educate yourself and if in doubt, seek help from a professional trainer or behaviourist sooner rather than later.

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