top of page

Bringing Home a Scared Rescued Dog

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

The best way to get a dog is either adopt and/or rescue. There are countless dogs in the world looking for a happy forever home.

Adopting or rescuing a dog is very rewarding as the dog will be eternally grateful for your help. There is no better feeling than looking a dog in the eyes and seeing how much he appreciates you.

If you never experienced this feeling before I highly recommend it.

Please note I’m not a professional in this field. This tips are based solely on my personal experience and knowledge. This is not a professional advice!

Please note: This page contains Affiliate links and /or advertisements, which means I get a commission if you sign up or purchase anything through my links provided, at no extra cost to you!

Please read our Disclaimer for more details.

But rescuing a dog can be a bit challenging too.

You most likely don’t know where the dog comes from and what he has been through. There are most likely some things the dog is not going to like because of bad experiences he had in the past.

For example if the dog was hit a lot in the head by the previous owner he might get aggressive when you try to reach for his head. Even if you just wanted to pet him.

It takes time and dedication to win his trust back and make him understand that you will never hurt him.

If you just brought home a rescued dog and you are not sure where to start or how to handle him or her, please read my advice below.

Please note that this is not a professional advice. I wrote this based on my personal experience.

Note: not every dog is the same. Some dogs had been abused more than others. I wrote the recommendations below based on dogs that are scared and were abused before.

Getting him used to your home

The day you bring him home make sure you have him smell around your home. Let him walk around and smell things at his own pace.

Just sit down somewhere in the house and just observe him. Don’t make sudden movements or loud sounds. This is a very important step.

When he has smelled around and you can see that he is calm you can give him some food and water in a bowl. Let him go and smell it. He might not feel safe just yet to eat. This is fine. He will. Sometimes it takes time.

Now you can place a comfy blanket or bed for him. Make sure its in a location where its quiet and he can feel safe. This can be a far corner in the room where there is not much foot traffic, or some other quiet location. It is very important to have a place where he can feel safe.


Seeing the Veterinarian is very important as the dog can have flees, thicks or even diseases.

Plus he will need to get a Rabies vaccine minimum as it is required by law in most places.

However, since at this stage he is most likely still terrified of things, and not stable yet, I wouldn’t take him to the Vet yet, unless he signs obvious signs of a disease or he is hurt.

But if he looks good healthwise, I would wait.

Going to the Vet can be very stressful for him, and we are trying to get him stable in his new environment.

Most of the time at the Vet if a dog shows aggression or danger towards people, he would need to be anesthetized so the Vet can preform the necessary procedures. This can be very stressful for an already terrified dog.

So I would wait until he is more stable and calm with people.

But of course you are free to (and I recommend you) to still give your Vet a call to see what she says.

Try to stay quiet

Try to use a lower tone of voice and avoid loud TV and music around him if he is scared.

I recommend you observing him in the next couple of days but don’t bother him too much if he still shows signs of fear and uncertainty.


Create a regular schedule for him. Feed him always in the same time, take him out on walks around the same times. Having a schedule for him will gave him some stability and calm him down.

The best is if someone can be always home to maintain this schedule. Avoid leaving him alone for a long period of time.

As he spends more time with you he should get more comfortable.

Change things little by little

When you can see he feels comfortable with you (and others) in your home doing your daily routines etc, you can introduce some new things.

For now this should be something simple.

Don’t make any sudden BIG changes.

For example, you could take him on longer walks or just simply on a different route.

Or just buy him a toy, or sit down next to him for couple minutes a day. You get the idea.

Always introduce new things and experiences little by little.

Too much at once might make him uncomfortable or scare him.

When he feels a lot calmer and friendly, you can try giving him a treat from your hand.

Treats, gaining his trust

lady giving dog a treat from her palm

The best way is to place the treat in the middle of your palm and stretch your fingers out and let him take it out of your palm. This was he won’t be able to bite your fingers off.

Obviously, if he shows any aggression don’t reach towards him. Observe him and only reach towards him if he is calm.

Also do it slowly. Avoid any sudden movements.

Making friends

As he gets more and more comfortable being around you, you can introduce more changes such as petting him (if he didn’t let you before) or introducing him to a stranger etc.

Use your judgment based on his behavior and personality.

Make sure he smells your hand (or the other person’s hand) before you pet him.

Try to introduce more “strangers” (meaning, people who don’t leave with the dog in the same household) to him, and get him comfortable with them. Try to do as many you can, until you can see the dog is comfortable meeting strangers.

Making dog friends

Now, try to introduce him to an other dog.

Note: if you know he is aggressive toward other dogs don’t do this!

However, have him restrained with a leash, or have a see-through fence between the two dogs.

You don’t know how he may react so don’t just let him loose.

If you see he is friendly and not scared or aggressive toward the other dog, you can let him loose so they can play.

But only if you are really sure, and always supervise them!