Choosing to adopt a dog from a shelter is a highly commendable decision. There are millions of unwanted animals living in shelters in the United States right now, and simply not enough homes for them all. Every person who opts to adopt rather than purchase from a breeder is taking a large, responsible step towards helping to battle the pet overpopulation crisis that is claiming the lives of countless animals every year.
Bringing home your newest furry family member is bound to be an exciting time for you, but it can be daunting and even downright scary for your new dog. This is especially the case for those canines who have been in the care of various temporary shelters and foster homes throughout their short life, and who doesn’t yet realize that this time, he has found his forever home.
Fortunately, there are a number of things that you can do to help your dog find his feet and settle in to his home and your family.
Before you bring him inside, take your dog for a long walk around the neighborhood so that he can burn off a little of the nervous energy he is probably experience. It will also give him an opportunity to relieve his bladder and bowels before he comes into your home.
While you may want to celebrate the arrival of your new pet, keeping things calm and uneventful is essential to help your canine companion feel safe. If you have any young children, try and get someone to take them out for the first few hours that your pet is at home. They will undoubtedly be very excited, and this could be frightening for your furbaby. Equally, if you have other pets in your home you should keep them separated from your new dog for at least the first 24 hours.
Leaving your new dog along is never a good idea, so you need to create the opportunity for him to have some space without ever being left unsupervised. One of the best ways to do this is to get a crate or dog bed and place it in the corner of the room where you will spend the most time. For example, the den or your office. If you choose a crate, make it as comfortable by placing blankets inside. If your dog has a preferred blanket or toy from her previous shelter or foster home, be sure to bring this with you as the scent will help keep him calm. Don’t shut the door on the crate though as this could make him panic. Instead let him roam in and out of the crate, but don’t give him free run of the house just yet – not unless you are planning on completely redecorating!
It is not unusual for adopted dogs to refuse to eat for the first few days in their new home. It takes a while for them to feel settled and he may be wary about anything new including his meals, despite being hungry. Try and feed him the same brand as he was eating while in kennels, this may help and will ensure no sudden reactions or upset stomachs. As long as he is drinking water, don’t pressure him to eat. Don’t forget that he should also be fed from his own bowl, ideally in a different room or at a different time to any other animals. Mealtimes can get competitive in shelters, and you don’t want to stir up any reasons for aggressive behavior.
Having a new dog can be a lot like having a puppy for the first few days, and although your pet may be tired, he may not yet feel comfortable enough to settle to sleep, and you should be prepared to stay up with him to comfort him. Pop your dog in his crate overnight as this will help keep him safe and out of trouble, and you may be able to catch a few zzz’s on your sofa, or if the crate is in your room, actually in bed.
Make sure you show your new dog exactly where he should be doing his businesses. Even so, it is also not unusual for a newly adopted dog to have a few toilet accidents, even when he has been potty-trained for years. Try and remain calm, don’t scold and clear up with minimal fuss. As soon as he feels settled his ability to toilet in the right location should return.
It is important to establish a routine as quickly as you can, as again, it will help your new pooch to settle if he knows what to expect each day. Equally, you should establish what your house rules are and be consistent in following them every day. Failing to be consistent can be very confusing and ultimately lead to bead behavior in animals. Therefore, if you decide that your furbaby isn’t allowed on the sofa, make sure you follow through on any consequences from day one and he will soon get the hint.
If you are considering adopting a dog and would like more information on the best ways to help him settle into your home, our veterinary team would be happy to offer their advice. Please telephone our offices today.