Connemara Kennels, Camus, Co. Galway | Phone: (091) 584 274 | Email:

MADRA @shuzzy1 @funkwavegemini Hey Maggie- you look like you are living a happy dog’s life.❤️🐶
A guide for new dog parents.
This manual is designed to provide new owners with some practical tips to ensure that the arrival of your new dog is a positive experience for everyone involved. We have tried to answer many of the questions you may have and include some basic guidelines to ensure your new dog gets every chance to settle in to his exciting new life as quickly as possible. Throughout the manual the word ‘dog’ refers to all dogs, irrespective of age, size or breed, including pups, and they are either referred to neutrally or as he/his.  All information is subject to change.

• How do I adopt a dog?
• Complete an adoption application form, which can be found on the website
• Home check coordinator will contact you to arrange for a home check to be done
• Once approved, depending on if there is a resident dog, a meet-and-greet will be arranged to ensure the dogs are compatible
• The adoption will be approved by the Rehoming Coordinator or else recommendations will be made to help you prepare for a suitable dog
• If approved, an adoption contract is signed, and the adoption donation is paid
• I really love pit-bulls, can I adopt one?

There are a number of breeds on the restricted list in Ireland and it is important to familiarise yourself with legislation before considering this breed or others on the restricted list. A rigorous home check would be required and the adopter must have prior experience of dealing with one of these breeds.  MADRA have new policies which dictate that certain dogs must complete training classes with their fosterer as a condition of the adoption being processed.
• If my dog becomes sick, what should I do?
Contact your local veterinary clinic for advice. If the dog has only been with you for a week or two, please do contact MADRA to inform us and in order that we can provide the vet with any relevant medical history.
• What if the dog is on medication?
This would be discussed with you prior to us placing the dog in with you.  If you are not comfortable dispensing medicine, we would delay the adoption until the course of medication has been completed.
• Can I walk my new dog off-lead with my own dog(s)?
NO. We would not recommend that a new dog be allowed off-lead at any time while outside for the first month.  Many of these dogs have ended up in kennels because they have run off and there are far too many unknowns for it to be safe.  Try to keep them out of situations like parks where there may be dogs running off-lead as this can create frustration and aggression. If you feel your dog needs some free running then there are training leads available to cater to this while keeping the dog safe. Contact your trainer or MADRA representative if you are unsure.
• Can I bring my dog on the prom?
NO.  This is for similar reasons as not walking your dog off-lead.  The prom and busy areas like town, or anywhere there are large volumes of people (e.g. events such as festivals, children’s parties, etc), can be very stressful for your new dog (or any dog) and, for this reason it is not recommended that you bring him there for at least a month.  Your dog may be gentle and relaxed indoors but may react fear-aggressively when confronted with a stressful situation.
• What if I have to leave for work or holiday for a while?
It is important to have a kennels or dog minder at your disposal should you need to go away. Please find one that suits both you and your dog in plenty of time as last-minute bookings are usually not possible at busy times (Summer holidays, Christmas, etc)

After being approved by MADRA, but before you bring your new dog home, we suggest you prepare yourself, your family and your home for a new canine companion.
If you already have a dog, chances are they know your routine, what they are allowed to do in the house, where they are allowed to go, etc.  Your new dog won’t have a clue!
Make sure everyone in the family is on board and is aware of what will be involved. 
Where to keep your new dog
Initially it is a good idea to keep the dog in a single room, where the family ‘live’.  This allows them to adjust slowly to new surroundings without being overwhelmed.  They need company and will want to be with you.  If you need to block off entrance to other rooms, use a baby gate.  If you are crate-training them, keep the crate in this room also.
Dog-proofing a room
Your own dog is already familiar with items throughout your house and can probably navigate quite easily without a problem.  Dog-proofing your house can save you some inconvenience in the long-run.
Things to look out for:
Is there room for a crate (if appropriate)?  Where will I keep it?
Is there easy and quick access outside for toilet breaks?
What can be chewed (couch, rugs, etc)?
Are there electrical wires that can be chewed?
Are there low tables with items that can be knocked off by a tail?
Are there plants in the room?  Some plants are toxic and the most poisonous commonly seen plants are: rhododendron, lilies, cyclamen, yew, tulip/narcissus bulbs, sago palm, oleander, castor bean
Items you may need

If you already have a dog, you probably have most of the following:
• Food and bowls
• Crate – if crate-training is an option
• Bedding - a clean, old blanket or towel or a dog bed that is washable.
• Odour neutraliser; it’s the only thing to clean housetraining mistakes.; If you clean mistakes with soap and water, your dog will still smell the urine and go to the bathroom in that spot repeatedly.  A simple, usually effective, odour neutraliser is white vinegar mixed with a small amount of water
• Toys such as: hard rubber balls, Kongs, fleece toys, rope toys.
• Collar & name tag which must stay on the dog at all times.
• Lead
• Training treats such as string cheese, squeeze cheese, lunch meat or small dog biscuits.
• Baby gate(s).

Hopefully you will have been able to introduce the dogs to each other in a neutral environment but if not here are some guidelines to help make the transition go as smoothly as possible. Remember that they do not have to like each other immediately, just not actively dislike each other.
• Make the introductions gradually and calmly
• Go for a walk – if possible, do this with both dogs and two handlers
• Walk the dogs side by side on leads and allow them to sniff one another and become familiar with each other
• Give your own dog LOTS of love and praise
• When you bring the dogs into the house, leave the leads on so that, if a situation arises, you can get immediate control.  You should only need to do this for a short period of time
• Be patient with your new dog and take things slowly.  We may not know their background but, they have been through a lot of changes recently and may be quite stressed
• Don’t leave your new dog alone with your resident dog, without supervision.  Even if they seem to get on well while you are with them, separate them when you leave the house, unless there is a valid reason not to do so (e.g. separation anxiety).  If you do have to leave them alone, always remove toys, food and chews and start with short periods of time.
• Feed the dogs separately initially and always supervise feeding
• Don’t introduce your foster dog to too many people or your neighbour’s dogs initially as this may over-stimulate them.
MADRA have a number of recommendations for ensuring you have an enjoyable life with your new dog and it all starts with the first week.
• Keep to a routine so that your new dog can adjust to your household.  Bear in mind also that they may have been in kennels for some time and are already used to routine so this will provide them with an additional feeling of security.
• Keep stimulation to a minimum:
• Find a quiet route to walk with him – this will help to familiarise him with his new environment and will also make the bonding process easier
• Don’t introduce him to people you meet on your walk for the first week or so.  Everything is already new to him and adding new people into the situation may just increase his stress.  It will take him time to settle
• Don’t introduce him to other dogs (other than your own).  This is because there is no way to tell how he will react.
• Don’t throw a party!!
• This is the week where he learns the normal house rules
• If your dog is timid or fearful, be careful not to indulge this behaviour as it may reinforce it and in the long run will not benefit the dog

It can take some time for a new dog to settle into his new environment so please be patient.  Allow him time to adjust and watch his behaviour closely.  It can take him 24 hours to settle in but he will take up to a month to bond with you so be realistic.  Some dogs may want cuddles straight away while others may be more distant – like humans, they have individual personalities so don’t expect the same reaction from every animal.  If, however, your dog shows any signs of aggression or fear (snapping or hiding, growling over food or toys), contact MADRA for guidance.


Your new dog may not display any signs of illness until quite ill. Therefore, it’s up to you to observe your dog closely each day. Call MADRA if you see abnormal behaviour, unusual discharges from the eyes, nose or other body openings, abnormal lumps, limping, difficulty getting up or down, loss of appetite or abnormal waste elimination.
Vaccination and worming.

Your dog’s vaccination and worming history will be given to you. If you have a puppy, you may need to bring it to the vet for its vaccination boosters:
Poisonous foods and household items
Many household products can be toxic to dogs. Remove any rat or mouse poisonings, antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid from your home before fostering! And store cleaning products and other items listed below out of reach of pets.
The following common food items are poisonous for dogs:
• Chocolate • Grapes/Raisins • Macadamia Nuts
• Mushrooms • Onions • Caffeine
• Xylitol  

Some dogs can get diarrhoea from a change in diet.  If this happens, feed them something bland for a day or so (e.g. cooked rice mixed with scrambled eggs) and then reintroduce the food.
Feeding schedule and amount
You should try to maintain a regular schedule for feeding your new dog – remember, with routine comes a feeling of security.  Feed him separately to your other dog(s) as this will prevent any arguments over food.  Leave some distance between you and your new dog so that they don’t feel anxious and gulp their food (some dogs will do this anyway). 
Don’t feed your new dog from the table – this can start a habit that can be very difficult to break.
The quantity of food and the schedule will depend on the age and size of your dog:
• Adult dogs: dry adult dog food twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening
• Adolescent dogs (4 months to 1 year): dry puppy food, twice a day
• Weaned puppies (6-8 weeks to 4 months): dry puppy food three to four times a day. Can be moistened with water or puppy formula
• Nursing mothers with puppies and unweaned puppies (4-8 weeks): MADRA will advise
Please refer to the packaging for suggested amounts as the amount may vary according to brand.  Please do not overfeed your dog and, reduce the amount of food per meal if feeding treats outside of meal times.
Special requirements
If your new dog is in need of extra nutrition (very thin, ill or poor coat), we may recommend food supplements like fish oils to provide essential fatty acids and omega-3 oils.
If your dog is underweight or recovering from illness we would recommend feeding a high quality complete puppy food  regardless of their age, to help them get the extra nutritional requirements.
Always provide plenty of fresh water!

You should try to handle your dog and work with him every day.  If you can work on some basic, force free, training that will increase his chances of settling in. 
Dogs should be exercised every day, regardless of the weather.  Two 30+ minute walks will help release excess energy and make for a calmer dog in the house.  An exercised dog is more likely to sleep when you are not at home and this lessens the chance of undesirable behaviour (chewing, barking, etc).
Lead walking
All dogs should be walked, leaving an appropriate and safe distance between them and any other dog you may meet.  This keeps both you and them safe from any possible conflicts.  Some dogs are uncomfortable with the nose-to-nose greeting and some owners are oblivious to this and encourage their dog to greet all others when out for a walk.
If your dog shows signs of stress (turning away, tail tucked under, squinting/rapid blinking, nose licking, yawning, teeth baring, etc) when being approached by another dog, ask the dog’s handler to remove the dog while keeping calm yourself.  Try your best to walk around the situation or turn and walk away.
If your dog is reactive on lead, there are some ways you can keep distance between him and another dog:
• Diplomatically tell the other handler to call their dog back
• Keep your dog at your side and create a body block
• Talk to your dog and feed him treats before he even starts showing signs of reactivity
Be very careful if using a retractable (flexi) lead when walking with your dog – it is impossible to control your dog and the leads can get tangled or easily break.
Any training you might undertake must be force free.    Most dogs will learn by observation so, if your own dog is well-trained and practicing good behaviour, chances are that your foster dog will mimic this behaviour of his own accord.  Working in a force free environment will strengthen the dog’s bond with you and so will make learning progressively easier.
There are many excellent online resources available relating to force free or positive reinforcement dog training.
• Additional training tips:
• Short 5-minute training sessions 4 to 6 times a day is more effective than one long session
• Dogs will learn new behaviours quicker in a reward-based environment. A reward will not always be food – some dogs prefer a game or a rub – you will quickly learn what motivates your foster dog
• Set him up to succeed, not fail – keep things simple at the start and gradually increase the criteria
• Keep the environment calm – indoors in a quiet location with no distractions and no other dogs is best
• Be consistent – if you don’t want your new dog on the couch, NEVER let him on the couch!
• Never lose your temper or hit your new dog – EVER!  If he’s not getting it, it’s because he doesn’t understand or is tired or bored – end the session and come back to it again later.

In an ideal world, your adopted dog would be fully housetrained.  The world is not ideal!  Even if a dog was housetrained when it was rescued, they can become less so the longer they spend in kennels.  In the first couple of days they may make mistakes – they are in a new environment with different smells and they are unsure of their surroundings.  Some dogs may instinctively ‘mark’ out their territory.  If this happens, neutralise the area with your odour neutraliser.
Pups can be housetrained from a very early age (8 weeks) and even adult dogs will respond quickly (after all, they don’t WANT to toilet where they live).  The following guidelines will make the process as painless as possible for all:
• Decide on the area you want your dog to toilet
• Take him, on lead, to that exact spot every time and use a cue word like ‘toilet’
• Take him out when he wakes up, after he eats or drinks, after a play session, or at least every 2 hours (pups should go out every 45 minutes or so until you learn their pattern).  Stay there with him for about 5 minutes.  If he ‘goes’ reward him (treats, praise, game, whatever he responds to) and bring him back inside.  If he doesn’t go within 5 minutes, bring him back inside and try every 15 minutes until he goes.  Reward him every time he goes
• Keep an eye on the dog when you’re inside – if he starts to sniff the floor or squats to go, interrupt him calmly and bring him outside to his spot.
• If he goes in the house when you’re not paying attention, don’t correct him – he couldn’t help it.  Clean it up and resume your schedule.  NEVER put the dog’s face in his mess or yell at him – he doesn’t understand you and you’re only teaching him to be afraid
Crate training
A crate can be a safe space for a dog.  It’s a place where they can be calm and it can also help prevent destructive behaviour and housetraining mistakes.  Do not crate your dog for long periods of time, unless recovering from a medical condition which requires inactivity – MADRA will guide you on this.
A general guide for time spent in a crate is:
• Pups – how old they are in months, plus 1 (e.g. a 4-month old pup should not be crated for more than 3 hours except at night)
• Adult dogs – this depends on many things.  For example, if your dog was left outside, it has never been trained to hold it in for any period of time.  You will need to start slowly with this dog
• Older dogs or dogs with medical conditions may only be able to hold it for short periods of time
You should exercise your dog well before and after any long periods in the crate and you should provide him with toys or a Kong while in the crate.
NEVER use a crate as a means of punishment for your dog.  He should feel that the crate is his playroom and safe place.
• Introducing the crate
• Put the crate, with a blanket and chew toys inside, in a central part of your home.  Bring him for a long walk and introduce him to the crate when he’s already tired.  Let him go in and out as he pleases.  Feed him in the crate with the door open.  If he is hesitant, put the bowl of food just inside the door so that his head is in but his body is outside.
• If he still won’t go near it, put some smelly, tasty wet food in the crate and shut the door.  Let him hang around outside, smelling the food and pretty soon, he should beg you to let him in!
• Once he is willing to go in, throw some of his favourite treats inside, let him go in to get them and come right back out.  Do that a few times, then let him go in and close the door.  Throw another treat in and then let him out and ignore him for 3 minutes.  Then put some more treats in, let him go in, feed him a few bits through the door, then let him out and ignore him for 5 minutes.
• Next time, put the treats, peanut butter, liver paste or something similar in a Kong so it will take him time to get the food out, and put the Kong in the crate.  After he has gone in, close the door and talk to him calmly.  If he starts to whine or cry don’t talk to him.  When he has been quiet for a few minutes you can let him out.
• Gradually increase the crate time until he can spend 3 to 4 hours in there.  It can be a good idea to leave a radio on with some mellow music or talk radio while he is in the crate.  Rotate his toys from day to day so he doesn’t become bored.  Don’t use newspapers, instead put a blanket in there so that he knows it is his cozy home.
• If you’re fostering a pup, you can try placing a warm hot water bottle wrapped in a towel next to him as warmth makes pups sleepy.
Be wary of dog crates during hot weather - a dog may want to lie on the cool floor, instead of the crate. Make sure the crate is not in direct sun.
Attention and play
Gentle handling is particularly important for the development of pups and attention and play is a reward for your dog.  Attention periodically throughout the day is more beneficial than one hour-long session.
As a general rule, children under 16 years old should NOT be left alone and unsupervised with any dog, but particularly a new dog. Do not allow children to behave with the dog in a manner you would not want the child to behave with a younger sibling. Teach children to leave a dog alone when he is eating, chewing and sleeping and never allow a child to remove a toy or any other ‘prized’ possession from a dog.
A child will not differentiate between a new dog and a dog they have grown up with, so you must make sure to keep everyone safe.
Gentle play is recommended with your new dog, to avoid over-stimulating him.  Don’t play tug-of-war or wrestle with him and, if you have a shy or fearful dog, don’t throw a toy towards him as he may think you’re throwing things at him and become more afraid.  Reinforce any training you may be doing by having the dog sit before giving him a toy – this makes the toy the reward

After your dog has acclimatised to his new home, it’s a good time to bring him out, to get him used to different people and places.  Start slowly.  Always stay calm and aware of your surroundings – this will allow your foster dog to relax.  If you find him reacting to somebody or something on your walk, change direction or cross the road.
If you want to run with your dog, remember that he has probably not been too active recently and will need to increase his fitness gradually.  If he is inclined to pull on the lead, running can intensify his behaviour and you may need to stop and start many times.  Do not run with a dog under 1-year-old.
Try to give pups lots of new experiences so that they will be well socialised and adaptable when they grow up.  You should not bring pups out in public until they are fully vaccinated so bring the experiences to them.  This can be different textures for them to stand on (paper, vinyl, wood, carpet), plastic bottles that make noise, etc. Introduce them to men and children and take them in the car (crated for safety) to get used to travelling.
General guidelines for seeking vet visits
Pups younger than 12 weeks must see a vet for the following:
• Diarrhoea that lasts for more than a day
• Vomiting and diarrhoea for more than 6 hours
• Vomiting more than once in an hour
• Not eating for more than 12-24 hours
• Lethargy without fever for more than 12 hours
• Lethargy with fever
Dogs older than 12 weeks must see a vet for the following:
• Diarrhoea that lasts for more than 1-2 days
• Diarrhoea and occasional vomiting for more than a day
• Vomiting more than 2-3 times in an hour
• Not eating for more than 24 hours
• Lethargy without fever for more than a day
• Lethargy with fever

Your new dog might be quire ill before it is noticeable, therefore you should keep a close eye on him each day. Call MADRA if you see any abnormal behaviour; unusual discharges from the eyes, nose or other body openings, abnormal lumps, limping, difficulty getting up or down, loss of appetite or abnormal waste elimination.
There can be several causes of diarrhoea, including stress, parasites and viruses, poor diet, change of diet, eating rubbish. If your your dog has diarrhoea but no other symptoms, feed him 2 cups of cooked rice mixed with one cup of cottage cheese or scrambled egg for a day or two, and then reintroduce dry kibble, to rule out any other cause. Provide plenty of fresh water since diarrhoea can cause dehydration.
Most MADRA dogs have been treated in the kennels. But additional flea treatments are available if needed. Puppies younger than 4 months should NOT be treated with toxic chemicals. Puppies over 8 weeks of age and adult dogs can be treated with topical flea treatment, which can be provided by your vet.

Kennel Cough
Kennel cough is the canine equivalent of the human cold and can be quite common in rescue dogs – as soon as one dog in the kennels gets it, nearly every other dog does.  It usually clears up as soon as the dog has a warm, quiet place to sleep, where they can drink lots of water, eat good food and get loads of TLC! REMOVE AS INFORMATION IS INCORRECT
Kennel cough is typically a dry, hacking cough that sounds a bit like a goose ‘honk’.  Some dogs may also have other symptoms such as sneezing, a runny nose, or eye discharge and a clear liquid may be coughed up.  Stress and a compromised immune symptom makes rescue dogs particularly vulnerable and it is extremely contagious.  Dogs with kennel cough should be kept away from other dogs but usually, once your own dog is healthy and is up-to-date with vaccinations, it will most likely not get sick.  If your own dog is ill or older, we would not recommend fostering a dog with kennel cough. EVEN ANNUALLY VACCINATED DOGS CAN CONTRACT A LESS VIRULENT STRAIN OF KC, CONSIDER REMOVIN OR REWORDING 
Treatment for kennel cough is bed rest and relaxation! FALSE INFORMATION SO BEST REMOVED  Ensure there is an adequate supply of fresh water and good food.  If your dog is not eating, cook him up something smelly, e.g. eggs, chicken, steak.  He can go for walks but keep them short. IF A DOG HAS KC THEY SHOULD NOT BE WALKED IN AREA'S WHERE OTHER DOGS FREQUENT DUE TO IT BEING HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS

 As with the human cold, if he has good energy and a mild dose, try 5-10 mg/lb vitamin C 2-3 times a day with food.  If there is no improvement after 3 days or if he gets worse, REMOVE AS WILL MAKE NO DIFFERENCE call MADRA. A COUGH BOTTLE CAN BE USED SHORT TERM OFF LABEL, BENILYN NON-DROWSEY FOR TICKLY COUGH & GIVE A CHILDS RECOMMENDED DOSE - THIS ADVICE IS STRICTLY SHORT TERM USE  
Most dogs will recover fully within 3-4 weeks, DOGS CAN BE CONTAGIOUS FOR SEVERAL WEEKS  but, if a dog has a compromised immune system, is a young puppy or a senior, it may take up to 6 weeks for a complete recovery. However, the dog may still be a carrier of the disease for several weeks after he has recovered. The dog may develop secondary infections which can be indicated by fever, lack of appetite and a yellow-green-brown nasal discharge which will need to be treated by a course of antibiotics prescribed by your vet.

Most MADRA dogs have been wormed while in the kennels but some may need several doses in order to ensure complete eradication. Parasites such as round worm, tapeworm, hookworm and mange can cause diarrhoea, stomach bloating or vomiting. Tapeworms will look like pieces of rice coming out of your foster dog’s anus or in his stool. Round and hookworms may be vomited, and roundworms look like spaghetti (hookworms are smaller and rarely distinguishable without the aid of a microscope). Mange is an infestation of tiny mites that bite and cause intense scratching, reddened skin and loss of fur but some cases of mange (sarcoptic) are contagious to humans. If you notice these symptoms please contact your MADRA representative.
Vaccination and worming

Your dog’s vaccination and worming history will be given to you. Your dog has most likely been vaccinated for Distemper, canine Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvo, and Bordetella and treated for internal & external parasites.

Some dogs may have specific behavioural or training needs.  MADRA will let you know if a problem has been identified that may need your help, e.g. an abused or fearful dog who needs help with socialising or confidence.  Sometimes, a dog with an unknown history just needs to be observed in a home environment and many times, it may be the new owner that learns about its specific behaviour.
Many behaviours that humans consider to be a problem are actually just normal dog behaviours – barking, whining, digging, chewing, hunting other animals.  The best way to deal with them is to provide alternative outlets
The following are some common behavioural issues:
• Barking • Digging • Attention seeking
• Destructive chewing • Lead pulling • Submissive and/or excitement urination
• Fearfulness • Resource guarding • Humping
• Begging • Separation anxiety • Prey drive
Some questions to ask in these situations are:
• Is my dog getting enough exercise?
• Is he being left alone for long periods of time?
• Does he have interesting toys to play with?
• Is he getting enough attention?
• Am I reinforcing bad behaviour (e.g. shouting when he is looking for attention)?
Regardless of the issue, we don’t condone punishment, as this is rarely effective in resolving behavioural problems. Punishment will not address the cause of the behaviour, and in fact it may worsen any behaviour that’s motivated by fear or anxiety. Punishment may also cause anxiety in dogs that aren’t currently fearful. Never discipline your dog after the fact. People often believe their dog makes this connection because he runs and hides or “looks guilty.” But dogs display submissive postures like cowering, running away, or hiding when they feel threatened by an angry tone of voice, body posture, or facial expression. Your dog doesn’t know what he’s done wrong; he only knows that you’re upset. Punishment after the fact will not only fail to eliminate the undesirable behaviour, but may provoke other undesirable behaviours, too.


And finally……..
THANK YOU from all of us at MADRA.  Without you we would not be able to rescue the number of animals we reach each year.  Your commitment and generosity are valued and appreciated.

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