I Adopted a Dog Now What?
So you’ve adopted a dog and you’re excited to get to know him better. Now what?! If this is your first time adopting, you might be wondering what you should do next. When you adopt a shelter dog, there are a number of things you can do to prepare for your new resident and make him feel at home.
The following actions are things you can do to help make the transition easier for you and your newly-adopted dog.
Before you leave the shelter, you should ask about the conditions your new pet came from. Since dogs come from different environments, for being strays on the street to coming from a pampered lifestyle, you’ll want to try to help him adjust to a new lifestyle.
You should also be mindful of a new pet’s temperament. While we’d all like a happy-go-lucky pup to come and live with us, it’s possible your new pet has anxiety, is high-energy, or would rather spend his time lying around rather than taking long walks.
People often return dogs to the shelter when they aren’t compatible. This can be traumatic for all parties involved. Be sure to learn all you can about your new pup to keep this type of trauma to a minimum.
Make Your Home Doggie-Friendly
If you haven’t already prepared your home, now is the time. Dogs are curious creatures and they can get into things you may want them to stay out of. Get on his level, and view the world from his point of view.
Look around for anything that might be dangerous to your new friend. Put away anything you don’t want to be chewed up or knocked over. Certain types of plants can be dangerous if ingested, so floor-bound plants should be put on stands or up on shelves. Secure electrical cords and pick up small objects that might end up in puppy tummies.
Prepare a designated spot for the newest member of your family. If you were bringing home a baby, you’d already have a space created for him. Do the same for your dog. Have any doggy beds, houses or crates ready for him to come home to. If you weren't provided with his favorite toy, have one or two for him in his new spot.
Introduce to His New Home
Bringing your dog home is exciting for both of you. The first thing you should do when you arrive is show him around the house on a leash. Lead him from room to room and show him his food and water, his bed and his toys.
You’ll want to show your adopted dog the areas that are off-limits and tell him so. He may or may not be trained, but he’ll understand in your tone and firmness.
Next, show him the yard. While still on the leash, lead him around and let him familiarize himself with his surroundings. If you’ve made a special place for him to poop and pee, you can hang out there for a little while. If he does his business there, you should reward him.
Let Him Meet the Family
If there’s more than one member in the home, introduce him to each member. It could be overwhelming for more than two people to meet him at once, so let him meet each person individually.
If you have children, be sure to supervise them at all times while they’re meeting him, no matter how small the dog is. They’ll probably be excited, so it helps to let them sit while meeting him. Ensure they know he’s not a toy, and teach them how to treat the new pup.
It’s also a good time to set boundaries with all involved. Inform the children that dog isn’t allowed to play with their toys, and that they aren’t allowed to take his toys. Dogs can become accustomed to playing with things, and children’s toys shouldn’t be introduced to them.
They should also know to leave him alone when he’s eating and when he’s in his bed or in his “safe space”.
Adding another pet can be stressful for current ones. If you have other dogs, it’s a good idea that they meet outside of the home. A visit to the dog park or a walk is a good way to introduce them and let them become acquainted.
The first couple of weeks can be a difficult time. Your current pets may be annoyed or tired of the new pet. It’s a good idea to keep them separate when they go to their “safe spaces” for a short while. You can crate your adopted dog, or set up a border between them until they get used to each other.
You shouldn’t leave the pets alone for an extended period until they’ve gotten used to each other. You can crate the new pup, keep him in a separate room or in the backyard if he’s an inside dog.
Start Behavior Training
Training your dog is necessary to have the best relationship possible. You don’t have to teach your dog tricks, but the standard commands are optimal — sit, heel, down, and off are the commands that will help keep you and your dog sane.
You can train him yourself, or enroll in a behavior class, or even hire a professional to come to your home to help teach him commands. The key to training is consistency.
Enjoy Your New Family Member
Many people think of their adopted dogs as family members. They provide love and support just and they need the same in return. If you give your pet the time and energy he deserves he will repay you with all the love you can ask for.