Our guide for new adopters.
Adoption from a dog’s perspective

Some of us have never lived in a house, we have never heard household noises like the washing machine, the bleep of the microwave, the television, the vacuum cleaner, or a door bell, so on hearing them we may be frightened, we may bolt through the door!

Some of us were born on Gypsy camps, military bases, work yards, a ditch at the side of the road, or on the River Banks.

We haven’t had bowls of food put down for us, we just have to go through bins and hope someone has left some food.

We haven’t been house trained because we haven’t ever been invited into a house, for some of us a cage is all we know.

We haven’t been for a nice walk on a lead. We don’t know that sticks are for fun, and not just for beating us with.

We haven’t been cuddled and stroked by a kind hand, in fact many of us see a hand as something that can hurt us 💔

Most of us know what pain is as we have been hit or kicked or intentionally hit by cars or had our ears and tails cut off.


Your new dog or cat has just had a traumatic travel experience. He/she has been in a crate for several hours, has been strapped to a cargo crate with several other stressed out animals whose pheromones will have been driving them all crazy. They have been loaded into a van and driven for several hours to get to you. He/she will be tired and stressed. On initial arrival at your home, your dog/cat will not know where he/she is, what has happened to their kennel mates, the sounds and smells will be unfamiliar and YOU are stranger. You may fall in love with your pet at first sight but DO NOT expect him/her to reciprocate.

Cats must be kept indoors for a minimum of 8 weeks to allow them to become totally familiar with their new home environment. Taking them out on a harness to explore their external boundaries can be fun, but please remember that your cat will have never worn a harness before and it will be unpleasant and unfamiliar to them. A cat can strangle itself on a poorly fitted harness, and with dagger-like claws for defence, a panicked cat is very hard to calm without injuring yourself in the process, therefore please take your time when introducing your new cat to the outside. Patience is the key to a happy kitty that knows where home is.

  • Giving the dog SPACE is mandatory – do not push their boundaries by stroking him/her too soon. You wouldn’t want to be kissed or hugged by a stranger. Your dog is the same.
  • DO NOT constantly come at them with treats because your dog will never understand why a smiley face permanently approaches and gives him food when all he/she wants is to have peace and quiet within the new environment, sniffing and getting to know the area.
  • Leave the dog alone. IGNORE him/her for a while and let him/her approach you first. When this happens, it means he/she is ready to properly meet you. Again, no hugs, kisses or strokes as they will just feel trapped by your arms. You have a lifetime for these things after he/she is ready to accept your love.
  • Keep the dog away from your EXIT DOOR(s) as he/she can so easily sneak between your legs and escape. Never underestimate them as, even from curiosity, they will want to go out. The first attempt for any dog who was kennelled is to run through an open door to freedom and explore more, or to run away if he/she feels trapped.

  • Prepare your garden. Any objects which can be used to assist the dog to climb over fences should be moved away from the fences (garden benches, storage containers etc.) Some dogs will also try to burrow under fences or chew through them in an endeavour to escape.
  • Do not leave the dog UNSUPERVISED in your garden because he/she can easily find a way to escape even if you are absolutely sure there is no way to do it. TRUST US; when a dog panics, he will find the opportunity to do it – no fence, no garden, is safe enough. These ex strays had to fight for their lives and survive in the streets and they are braver and smarter than you think. Keep them on a long line and stay with them and you won’t give them the opportunity to escape.
  • DO NOT WALK the dog until you bond with him and exercise him/her firstly in your garden. Many of the dogs come from shelters and have never had to wear a collar or harness and any attempt to rush him/her will be a step backwards and you will lose his/her trust.

  • Do not walk the dog without having a SLIP LEAD AND HARNESS with a lead attached. Yes, we did say 2 leads – one for each hand so that if you accidentally drop one, you still have control with the other.
  • Do not let the dog OFF LEAD – being friendly and relaxed doesn’t mean he/she will come back to you when he/she is out – he can get scared and in a split second, he/she is gone forever. This happens more often that you would think.
  • Did you know that it takes at least 3 weeks for a new dog to start to accept their new home and surroundings, and a MINIMUM of 3 months before they are fully bonded to you? PLEASE bear this in mind when adopting a dog from abroad and don’t be tempted to let your dog off leash when out walking until they are fully bonded to you.

Your new pet has been microchipped. This is for their safety and security, this way, if the unthinkable happens and your new pet does escape, when found and scanned, they can be returned directly to you.
And finally, it saddens us all to see that dog theft is one of the fastest rising crimes in Britain today. Many stolen dogs are either used to breed from, or are used as bait in illegal dog fighting rings. All adult dogs adopted through STAR are neutered before they arrive, but the pups that are too young to be spayed are given to you with a commitment to have them neutered as soon as they are old enough. Please protect your pets from these scumbags by ensuring you neuter and by not leaving your beloved pet unattended in your garden or tied up outside a shop.
If a Rescuer has succeeded in saving an animal’s life, treated their wounds, kept him/her safe until their adoption and succeeded in transporting him/her safely to the UK , It is your DUTY to keep him/her safe and give them the wonderful life in your home that they deserve.

Contact us.

If you have any concerns or worries about how your new arrival is settling in or behaving, or if you are just unsure what to do about something, please get in touch. We are always here to help.

Email: adoption@staradopt.org
or contact your adoption coordinator

Help us save lives and support the rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming of dogs in need.