What Do I Need to Know Before Taking a Pup from a Shelter?
Caring for any pet is a big responsibility, because your dog’s health and well-being depend only on you. The decision to adopt a dog from a shelter is a noble one. But many dog owners find themselves not fully prepared for the challenges of adapting a dog to its new home. Shelter dogs rarely have happy histories, and their traumatic experiences leave traces on their behavior.
Choosing a Pet
The notion that shelter pets always have health problems has little to do with reality. If you take in a dog from a good shelter, their shelter dog handler is fully aware of their condition and will relay all the information to you. The pets usually already have all the necessary vaccinations, and are treated for parasites.
It is extremely important to be cautious when choosing a puppy as returning him back to the shelter could be the breakdown of all hope and trust in people for a dog who believed in his own salvation.
What to Consider, Adopting a Dog
- Consider in advance what kind of pet you want. Do you want a puppy or an adult dog? An adult is more likely to be house-trained than a puppy, but a puppy is more prone to adjust to his new surroundings. Remember that puppies can’t be adopted until they’re two-and-a-half or three months old, at the earliest.
- Think about what kind of temperament your pet should have. If you’re phlegmatic and like to sit at home with a book, look for calm, sedate dogs. If you can’t imagine your life without a morning jog, an energetic dog is your choice. Be sure to consider your breed’s traits. Hunting dog breeds are not likely to enjoy the role of pet sofa cushion muffins.
- The most important thing is to get along with the dog in character. You need to visit the shelter regularly, talk to the dogs, play together. Believe me, you will quickly figure out which dog is “yours. By the time you start planning your dog’s move to a new home, you should have made friends, he should recognize you and be happy to meet you again. Establishing a bond and trust are key components of your relationship with your future four-legged family friend.
- Keep in mind that caring for your dog requires a lot of resources. Are you ready to make changes to your daily routine? Are you ready to keep your dog at home, on the right diet, with timely vet checkups, training classes and regular walks? If you’re a beginner dog owner, a breed that requires a lot of experience in dog grooming won’t suit you.
- Are you prepared for your dog’s adjustment period after the shelter? A dog’s first days in his new home, and even the first months, can be very nerve-wracking. It’s not uncommon that shelter dogs find it hard to trust their new owners, due to the fact that the previous owners mistreated them. All your patience and love will be required.
Adapting a Dog from a Shelter. How to Reduce Stress?
How can you make the dog’s move to a new home from the shelter less stressful? Arrange a visit in advance. Let the dog be led to its future owner by a shelter volunteer or other familiar, but generally neutral, guide. It’s better to meet the future pet in the yard, walk around together for a while and go show the dog the house.
This technique comes in handy if you already have a dog that you’d rather introduce to a new playmate in advance. When you’re expecting a new pet, meet him in the square outside your home with the dog that already lives with you. Don’t bump your new friends head-to-head, it’s easier for them to get to know each other if they walk down the path together side by side, sniffing around.
Show your old pet that he will now have to reckon with the presence of another family member, but it won’t make you love him any less. Give the new pet a treat first, then give the old friend a treat. Do this several times. Gradually your old pet will realize that if you gave a treat to a new acquaintance, you will now give a treat to him too, that is, do not deprive him of attention. Then walk home together. Keep the dogs on leashes, so it’s easier for you to consistently show the house to the new pet. Give the new and old buddy a treat again to reinforce the feeling that there is no competition between them, you will give attention to both of them. Often at the end of such an introductory meeting with the new home, the shelter pet will no longer be nervous, but will quietly nestle somewhere to lie down.
In the dog’s first few days in his new home he will be either lethargic or hyperactive and may refuse to eat. It is best not to touch the dog unnecessarily and give him time to get acclimated to the new place. He will become attached to his new owner after a couple of weeks. It’s no good letting him follow you around, but if he’s not stuck there all the time and just prefers to be in the same room with you, it’ ok.
Don’t leave the dog home alone for a while, as there are usually surprises in the way of a home invasion. After a couple of weeks, start leaving the dog alone a little at a time. Leave the apartment for five minutes at first, then increase the amount of time. If the dog doesn’t make a mischief for a few minutes, praise him and give him treats. Slowly increase the amount of time you’re away. One day soon, you’ll be able to go out for a long time and not have to worry about him.
When a dog comes into a large family, he quickly singles out his owner, but he gradually begins to find a common language with the rest of the family after about three months. We should say again that dogs from the shelter often have a negative experience with people, so in the first months since the arrival of a four-legged friend in the family, you may need the help of cynologist and zoo-psychologist. It is important not to ignore behavioral and emotional problems, but to try to find a solution with the help of professionals.
How to Avoid Frequent Mistakes
- Find out what and how your new pet was fed at the shelter. Even if it seems like an unhealthy diet, follow it for the first 10 days. No one has ever really benefited from a sudden change in his diet, and making the change amid all the changes in his life will be even more stressful for him. After about ten days, you can gradually begin transition to the food that vet recommended.
- It happens that inexperienced dog owners give up, faced with a mess in the apartment or unwillingness of a shelter dog to establish the contact. They even think about whether they should return the dog to the shelter or not. But the dog is not a toy, once you take it into the family, you should not give in to the difficulties, but work together to overcome them. It is possible that all the problems can be solved with just a few sessions with a pet psychologist. Don’t give up, you will definitely succeed!
- From day one, your dog should have everything he needs in his new home – dental care products, grooming tools, dog beds, toys, food and water bowls. Ensure your dog has a dog tag so that you can always find your faithful friend if he gets lost. Take care of these important comfort details in advance.
- Try to protect your new dog from unnecessary stress. Renovations can be done in a year, noisy relatives can come for a week some other time, rearranging the house can also wait.
- Teach your dog some independent play, provide him with interesting puzzles and toys to collect the hidden treats inside. The more engaged the puppy is, the less sad and mischievous he gets when you’re away.
Getting a dog from the shelter is half the job. Making friends with him and letting him know that he is now a full-fledged member of the family is the real deal. Be patient, and you’re sure to make your new four-legged friend happy. The pet will feel your care and kindness, and will return your loyalty and friendship for years to come.
If you have made up your mind about taking a dog from a shelter, use of one specialized pet adoption services.