How To Be An Advocate For Adoption
Congratulations on your new fur baby! Adopting a dog is an exciting and rewarding experience. But, you are also making a huge commitment to be responsible for your new pup’s health and wellbeing for the rest of his life.
The first few days in a new home are a critical time for your new pup. Your new family member is likely to be a bit confused and nervous about where he is and what to expect. Depending on his previous lifestyle and training, you may need to make some major changes to help him adjust.
Knowing what to do and what to expect in those first few days can make the transition easier for your entire family. Here’s what you need to do to ensure that the post-adoption period goes as smoothly as possible.
One: Set Your New Dog Up for Success with the Right Supplies
Before or soon after your new pup comes home, you’ll want to ensure that you have some essential supplies on hand.
Leash, Collar, and Harness:
While you’re getting to know each other, it’s best to stick to a six-foot leash so you can keep your new dog close. Whether you choose a collar or harness, ensure that it’s adjusted to fit correctly so your pup can’t slip it off and get lost, which is a real possibility if he gets nervous or scared during the transition period. Make sure his collar has an ID tag with your current contact information on it, just in case.
Try to buy the same food your new pup is already used to eating. According to the doctors at Bond Vet clinic in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, changing a dog’s food abruptly could cause diarrhea and upset stomach. If you decide you want to feed him something different, just be sure to make the change gradually by mixing the old food in with the new for a few weeks.
Food and water bowls:
Pick a convenient spot in your home and leave them in the same place at all times. That way, your new dog will always know where they are. Fresh, clean water should be available to your pup at all times.
Having a crate can make the transition period less stressful for you and for your new pup. Dogs are den animals and they appreciate having their own safe place. And, it will give you a safe place to put him when you can’t supervise him, especially while he’s learning what his boundaries are. Choose a crate that’s big enough for him to stand up, turn around, and lay down in comfortably. But don’t get one that’s too big, or he may have accidents in it.
Having some safe toys on hand will ease stress during the transition period. Puppies and adult dogs should be supervised with most toys unless it’s something heavy-duty like a Kong. Make sure to check toys regularly for damage that could create a choking hazard.
Two: Dog-Proof Your Home
It’s a good idea to dog-proof your home before you bring home your new family member, but if you didn’t think about it, go ahead and do it ASAP. Whether your new buddy is a puppy or an adult, he’ll likely be curious about his new surroundings.
Get down on his level and look for potential dangers. Toxic houseplants, electrical cords, and anything he might chew up or swallow should be put up out of his reach. Be sure to put up anything you wouldn’t want him to chew on, too, such as your favorite pair of shoes.
Even after your home has been dog-proofed, it’s better not to leave your new dog unsupervised in your home during the transition period. It will take him some time to learn what his boundaries are, and you don’t want him to develop any bad habits when you aren’t looking.
Remember, if your new dog chews up something of value, it’s your fault for not putting it up. Dogs are not spiteful, and they don’t have any concept of what things cost. They chew for fun, to relieve boredom or stress, or even just out of curiosity, so make sure you keep items you don’t want to be destroyed out of reach.
Three: Introduce Him to the Children Safely
If you have kids, they probably won’t be able to contain their excitement when you bring the new dog home, especially without some guidance from you. Take some time to set some rules for your kids to follow before the new dog comes home.
Your children should know that they should never pinch, squeeze, or pull at the dog. They should also know not to take away his toys or food, or to mess with him when he’s in his crate or “safe place.” Always supervise their interactions for everyone’s safety. When you first enter the home with your new dog, introduce him to the kids while he’s on a leash. Have your children sit down and stay calm so your pup will be more at ease. If the dog is nervous, give him a break until he calms down. Don’t force it.
Four: Acquainting Him with Your Other Dogs
If possible, try to introduce them in a neutral place outside the home. Taking them on a walk together is a great choice. Once you’re in the home, allow your other pets to get acquainted with the new pup in his crate for everyone’s safety. Once they’re all calm and relaxed, you should introduce them with leashes on at first.
Watch their body language carefully, and any time one of them seems stressed or aggressive, separate them for a while. This process can’t be rushed. Interactions should always be supervised until you’re completely confident that there won’t be any aggression, especially when food or toys are involved.
Some Final Advice
Remember that any changes to a dog’s routine can be stressful, especially moving into a new home with people and other animals he doesn’t know. It’s not uncommon for them to have accidents or an upset stomach, even if they’ve previously been house trained.
Some dogs will also be quite shy, and it may take some time to earn their trust. The adjustment period is different for every dog. It may feel like he’s always been part of the family after a few days, or it may take several months for him to settle in.
Patience and consistency will be key. Once he learns what’s expected of him and what to expect from you, he’ll begin to relax and show his true personality. And remember, it’s much easier to prevent bad habits than it is to break them, so be clear about boundaries right from the start.