Monday, March 28, 2016

Tips For People Adopting A Dog


Imagine being brought to a foreign country where customs and people are unfamiliar, and you cannot speak the language.  The experience would be not only stressful, but terrifying, too.  When you adopt a dog from the shelter, that scenario is similar to what he will feel when he goes home with you.  Understand that the dog that you just adopted is landing in territory that is alien, filled with strangers and customs he either does not know or does not comprehend.  He will be confused and stressed.  He will require some time to adjust.  The solution for him to smoothly transition into your home is to be prepared, patient, and consistent in your actions.

Before you bring your dog home, determine where he will initially be spending most of his time and make it dog-friendly.  Move all items out of reach that he might find appealing to chew, remove any hazardous items, and have plenty of appropriate dog toys available.  If you plan on crate-training, be sure to it set-up.  A crate can be a place where the dog feels safe and secure during the transition period, and also during those times you are absent.  Never use a crate as a punishment.  If you prefer not to crate but still want to confine, try baby gates in the kitchen or another area that can be easily accessed and cleaned.  It is important to remember that each time you leave your dog he should know that he has done nothing wrong when being confined in a crate or restricted to a particular area.

When you bring your new pet home, leash-walk him, even in fenced yards, until he relieves himself.  Start getting him used to the area by sniffing and becoming acquainted with all the smells.  Allow plenty of opportunity for elimination.  If you have a special area you want him to regularly use, go to it and praise or reward when he does.  If your new pet is a male, he will most likely want to mark territory, especially if he detects other dogs.  Understand that he may accidentally mark inappropriate items when coming into your home, so it is best to keep him on leash when entering the first time.  If he starts to lift his leg, immediately walk him to his spot outside.  Be sure to always praise or reward appropriate outside bathroom behavior.  Keep in mind that if he does have a few accidents, it might be because he is nervous and stressed.

Some dogs experience stomach upset and may throw up or experience diarrhea due to dietary changes.  When you adopt your dog, ask what brand of food was given and what time he usually ate.  In the beginning, try to duplicate both.  If you wish to switch to a different brand, do so for about a week by adding one part of the new food to three parts of the previous kibble for a few days; then switch to equal parts of each, and finally decreasing to one part old to three parts new.  This should assist in avoiding any gastric issues.  However, if symptoms persist after a couple of days, or actually worsen within the 48 hours, or if his energy or appetite diminish, it is definitely time to see the veterinarian.

Take time to create a vocabulary of commands that everyone in your home will unfailingly use when giving direction.  This will help alleviate any confusion on the animal’s part and help him learn more quickly.

For the first few days, try minimize excitement.  Give him time to acclimate to you and your family before introducing him to any strangers.  Teach children how to properly behave around him, and never allow harassment or mistreatment.  Also, be sure never to leave young or inexperienced children around the dog without supervision.

After passing his health exam by the veterinarian, enroll the both of you in training classes.  Even if you are not a new dog owner, training can be quite valuable.  Be sure to involve all family members in the training process to maintain uniformity.  Establishing a regular routine will provide the dog security and is invaluable in speeding up the adjustment process.  This includes feeding times, exercise and play times, bedtime, and when it is time to go outside to relieve himself.  


Dogs are resilient, and with a bit of preparation, some patience, and consistency in routine and direction you can shape your relationship with your newly adopted shelter dog into something that truly gets better each day.

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