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Tips for new owners


  • When you arrive at home, take your dog out for a walk or bathroom break.
  • Introduce him on lead to his new home, including his confinement area.
  • Give your dog a chew bone or a stuffed Kong and leave him alone in the confinement area for approximately 5 minutes.
  • If your dog begins to howl, whine, or bark, wait until he has been quiet for at least ten seconds before you respond. Otherwise, your dog will learn that whining or barking makes you appear or gets him out of the confinement area, and he'll bark or cry for longer periods of time.

You must get your dog used to short absences starting within the first few hours of his arrival. This is extremely important. You'll want to spend every minute with your dog when he first comes home, but you should prepare him right away for a normal routine. He must learn to be relaxed, calm and settled when he's alone. Alone-time training is necessary because dogs are highly social animals and being alone doesn't come naturally to them. Leave your dog alone in his confinement area while you go out or spend time in another part of the house. Vary the length of your absences, from 30 seconds to 20 minutes, and repeat them throughout the day. If your dog seems comfortable, you can increase the amount of time he's left alone. Remember, it may take several days or weeks for your dog to make the transition to his new home.

Quiet Time

Quiet Time

We recommend that after you bring your new adopted dog home, let her check out the area of the house where she is allowed and let her figure things out for 3-4 hours with you supervising. Wait a couple of days before inviting friends etc. over to meet the new dog. Rescue dogs have already been through a series of changes so quiet time with her immediate family is important. If the dog wants to play a bit with you, that's fine but do NOT allow her to interact with young children yet. If the dog does not solicit play or attention from you, let her establish herself for a while. Don't force her to play.


Put a chew toy in your dog's crate or sleeping area when you leave him for the night. He may have trouble settling in at first, but he should eventually relax and go to sleep. Remember, it's important not to let your dog out of his confinement area if he's crying or barking. If he gets attention for barking, he'll keep it up for long periods of time.


Rescue dogs come from a variety of backgrounds but all dogs can do with more socialisation. After your new dog has had some time to settle in and he is showing some confidence in you, give him lots of pleasant social experiences. He should be able to meet people (and other dogs, if he's not dog-aggressive) at home and near home. Then perhaps in new places like parks, obedience school, etc.

Try to make sure that you allow your new dog to be handled by other people only after he has a chance to trust you. Then gradually do introductions to other people. Family members first, then friends he knows. Introductions can take the form of giving the dog treats, petting, playing fetch, even going for a walk with a trusted, dog oriented friend. Do not force the dog to accept people, allowing HIM to approach people, rather than people approaching the dog. Use treats and have patience if he is reticent to allow other people to touch or play with him. He'll usually come around with time.

At first, be sure to tell people NOT reach for the dog right away. Let him come when HE wants to. If he doesn't, the visitor should completely ignore the dog. Suggest that after the dog has met/sniffed the new person, that they pat the SIDE of the dog's neck or side of shoulder. Patting the top of a dog's head is interpreted by dogs as a dominance attempt and can issue a challenge to some dogs or frighten others. Most dogs have no problem with this but since some do, it is always best to exercise caution.

House Training

Some adult dogs are not housetrained. If your dog has an accident, it's not because he's incapable or unintelligent, it's because he has not been properly trained. To successfully housetrain your dog, you need to treat him like an 8 week-old pup. The confinement area is your key to success.

Until your dog is perfectly housetrained, never leave him alone unless he's in his confinement area.

He must be 100% supervised when he's outside his confinement area. Take your dog out on leash frequently. Start by walking him at half-hour intervals. If you see your dog sniffing and circling in the house, take him out immediately. Praise and reward him with a treat (dog biscuit) when he relieves himself outdoors. Never yell or punish your dog for a potty accident in the house. See our "Housetraining" handout for detailed instructions.

Food & Water


At MADRA we usually feed our dogs a relatively high quality dry dog food. They are a bit more expensive, however we find the dogs are healthier and we tend not to have as many problems with them. A good diet can make a big difference for the rest of your dog's life.

You will do well for your dogs if you buy a good quality dry dog food (one without by-products). You can dress it with some meat broth (no salt added), leftover vegetables or lean meat scraps. Dogs with allergies or dry skin can often be helped with an Omega fatty acid supplement.


Just as your dog needs proper nutrition from his food, water is an essential "nutrient" as well. Water keeps the dog's body properly hydrated and promotes normal function of the body's systems. During housebreaking, it is necessary to keep an eye on how much water your dog is drinking. Once he is reliably trained, he should have access to clean fresh water at all times. Make sure that the dog's water bowl is clean and change the water often.

Mission Statement

MADRA is a Connemara based dog rescue & re-homing facility whose ultimate and overall aim is to ensure that all dogs have permanent, loving homes. MADRA works to educate members of the general public to have a responsible attitude towards dogs and their welfare and to help create a world where no healthy, good-natured dogs are killed merely because they are considered to be a surplus number.

Members of the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes

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Registered in Ireland Number 564962 - Registered Office: Connemara Kennels, Camus, Co. Galway