Friends of Canil de Portimão

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How to adopt

Once you’ve made the decision to adopt a new family member, you’ll need to decide what type of dog will fit best with your lifestyle. Dogs come in all shapes, sizes, personalities and temperaments, just like people, so it’s important to think about these things before you adopt. Taking a dog into your home is a big responsibility but well worth the effort. Knowing what your needs and capabilities are before taking a dog into your home can ensure a rewarding experience for you, your family, and your new pet. First and foremost, decide if you are really ready for a pet by asking yourself the following questions:

- Do I have enough funds for a financial commitment, a stable enough homelife and will children be a factor?

- Can I commit to a ten to fifteen year commitment, proper veterinary care and personal attention for this pet?


- Is my entire family truly a part of this decision?

- Something to think about before you make a decision, because all puppies are lovely, but:


Older pets can provide a lot of value and love to families looking to add a four-legged friend to their home. The biggest problem we have as volunteers, is finding loving forever homes, for the increasing population of older dogs being dropped off or abandoned, is because owners are "trading them in" for younger models. It's heartbreaking to see these poor dogs being brought in, after they have lived a nice life.

“There are lots of positives to adopting a senior. Puppies and kittens can take a lot of patience to train and figure out their personality. With older pets, what you see is pretty much what you get”.

Older pets have a tremendous amount of love to give. This may sound silly, but they really do understand and appreciate being rescued. Older pets often are more mellow and require less strenuous exercise. They often make an easier transition to a new home than a puppy; they enjoy easy living.

Bringing home a Rescue Dog. 

The key words when taking on any rescue dog are Patience, Consistency, and Calmness.When you get your rescue dog home it is very tempting to try to be over-cheerful with it. This very rarely works, since the dog has no idea that everything will be ok from now on. It's important to be very quiet and low-key, as if nothing very remarkable is taking place. This is especially true for the traumatized dogs, and those who have suffered abuse and cruelty - sadly, common factors. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't offer your new dog affection, but take it slowlyand quiet. It never works to shout at a rescue dog and this is where you may need a lot of patience! Bear in mind that if you are taking a traumatized dog, it may take weeks or months for the dogs to start to trust you at all and in these cases, it is often best to leave the dog in peace until it feels able to come to you. In these cases, gently put the feed down for the dog at set times, leave the dog on its own, but see how it behaves and to ensure it is getting enough food. Make sure it has its own cosy place to sleep and feel safe. It is very often a good idea to change the dog's name as soon as you get the dog home. Dogs seem to have no problem accepting a new name, and it represents a break with it's former life, so the dog starts a new life with a new name. Obviously, if you get no response, by all means use the old name, but use the new one at the same time.

Problems you can face.


If, when you get your rescue dog home, you think it is in need of a bath, do think twice about this... Unless the dog is absolutely unlivable with, it may be best to wait a few days/weeks before clean-up! Bear in mind that a rescue dog may never have had a bath in its life, in which case this will be an added trauma to the re-homing process. Even more important, please remember that many dogs are terrified of hosepipes, so hosing the dog down is really not an immediate option. Hygiene comes second to the dog's  peace of mind, and it surely isn't the end of the world if you don't have a nice smelling dog from start on.

Weight and Diet

You may think your rescue dog is very underweight when you choose it. This is obviously a not uncommon state of affairs. However, it is best not to rush the fattening-up process! Remember that a small quantity of good quality food is always preferable to large amounts of "fillers", and as your rescue dog relaxes, and you gradually increase amounts of food, it will very quickly put on weight and condition. Patience is needed here and is generally soon rewarded. If in doubt, of course ask your Vet's advice.


This one is difficult to understand, and may only occur with dogs who have had to share food with other dogs, or who move in to a new home where there are dogs already. The dog eats its food and then pees on its bowl - or another dog's bowl! The only way to handle this is to say "NO" quietly (no shouting...), and to remove the bowl as soon as you can when the dog finishes eating. Eventually, the problem should disappear, but it may take a while.

Calling the Dog

Another difficulty with very nervous/abused dogs is that you call them (facing them) and they either try to go the other way, or stand rooted to the spot. Try calling the dog gently, but walk in the direction you want it to go. Keep it casual! Dogs are naturally nosey, and chances are it will follow, at a distance. This one is usually easier to cure and as soon as the dog begins to trust you, it should come to you. Even so, don't stand facing it and cheerfully patting your knees.

Putting on a lead

Many rescue dogs have been tied up and even cruelly treated whilst tied up; very often these dogs panic if you try to put on a lead. A perfectly gentle dog may bite if panicked, so try not to put a lead on too soon, and if the dog really panics, you could try a body harness instead. Even so, there are some dogs who will never accept a lead. All you can do is assume that there is a very good reason for this reaction and it is certainly not to regard it as bad behaviour. Do not punish the dog! If you absolutely need to put the dog on a lead or harness, and you encounter difficulties,  your vet may be able to help - sometimes, temporary sedation is the only solution or the homeopathic rescue drops, but it doesn't always work. At our Canil we give special attention to train the dogs to walk on the lead.

Toys and Playing

Normally rescue dogs have to learn how to play. Toys are very important for a dog, but don't get squeaky ones, some dogs are afraid of them as they resemble an animal in distress. Rawhide chews are also a very good idea, and usually get accepted almost immediately! But be careful if there are other dogs in your home, because the new dog is the lowest in rank and the higher ranking dogs will try to take the chew away; then you have a possible dog fight at hand! I would suggest to give the chew on an occasion when they are separated.


If you have adopted a rescue dog from the shelter or from elsewhere, please ask for help at anytime if you need a little help or guidance.


by ACJ Informática, LDA