Adopting a new puppy or dog can be incredibly rewarding, but it comes with a lot of responsibility and difficulties. Our Kittrell vets tell you all about what you can expect when you bring your new dog home.
There are so many dogs in animal shelters all over the world looking for their forever homes, including both puppies and older dogs. These adorable dogs may have come to a rescue center because they've had a rough start to life or their previous owners may no longer have been able to care for them. One thing's for sure though, rescue dogs just need someone who can offer them plenty of love and understanding.
Adopting a dog
Giving a rescue dog a happy new home can be a rewarding experience for you and a transformation for a dog that's waiting for a second chance, but there's a lot to consider and prepare for when adopting a rescue dog.
Should I adopt a dog or a puppy?
Adopting a dog or puppy from a rescue center can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Not only will you be supporting the work of a worthwhile charity, but you'll also be giving an unwanted pup a second chance. If you're thinking about adopting a dog, you'll need to decide whether you have time for a bouncy puppy or want to get a calmer, older dog instead.
Puppies will demand a lot of devotion such as training, cleaning up, disciplining and will require plenty of attention to give them everything they need. Because of this, it's not a good idea to consider a puppy if you work long hours or if there won't be someone around during the day to care for them. On the other hand, if you adopt an older dog, they will already have an established routine, a degree of training and will generally just be more responsible.
Things to consider when adopting a dog
Making the decision to get a new dog is always exciting, but there are many considerations you should also take into account.
- In some cases, dogs end up in rehoming centers because of neglect or maltreatment. They may come with a bit of baggage, be sure you can handle the commitment if you're adopting a dog with a hard history.
- If you live in a rented space, be sure to check with your landlord that you can have a dog.
- If you already have dogs, introducing a rescue animal should be done with care.
- If a dog has been used for breeding or showing, they may have learned certain behaviors that you'll have to help them fix.
- It can take time and effort to settle a rescue dog into your home and build a bond, be patient.
- Ensure you have enough room in your living arrangements before rescuing a dog.
- You'll also need enough space in your schedule. Dogs require daily walks and interaction.
- There are cost implications of adopting a dog; as well as adoption fees, which vary among rehoming centers, you also need to think about the long-term cost implications of having a puppy. Account for pet insurance, potential vet bills and routine treatments, food, grooming, accessories, toys, and kennel bills for when you're on holiday.
Tips to successfully adopt a dog
Though your dog may come with a bit of baggage, that doesn't mean it won't be worth it. Adopting a dog is the most rewarding thing an animal lover can do. Here's how you can make it a successful journey.
Help your dog relax at home alone
Adopted dogs usually form deep bonds with their new parents, and in the beginning, separation may be emotional for you both. Help give your dog the confidence to be home alone by incorporating the following confidence-building tips into their day. Begin using these tips as soon as you bring your new friend home.
Leave the house frequently for short periods by walking out the door, closing it, and then returning. Once your dog is comfortable with short departures, randomly include some longer departures.
- Ignore your dog during departures and arrivals, be very casual – don’t look back!
- Practice mini departures inside by closing doors when you take a shower, use the bathroom, etc.
- Studies have shown that dogs are calmed by classical music so consider changing your radio station.
- Try to stay relaxed, if you’re anxious your dog’s anxiety will increase.
- Give your dog a safe chew toy stuffed with treats before you leave the house.
A dog with severe separation anxiety may destroy property, bark incessantly, scratch around doors or windows, or injure itself in a frenzied panic. Speak to a dog trainer, animal behaviorist or veterinarian for ways to increase your dog’s comfort when they are home alone.
Establish household rules and routines
If your dog is living with more than one person, it is important that rules and routines are followed by every member of the household to encourage consistency, and to give your dog stability and leadership. The more consistent your family is, the quicker your dog can figure things out. Lack of routine, yelling at your dog for doing things wrong, or letting them make up their own rules will only make your dog anxious and unsettled. Consider incorporating some of the following rules and routines into your household.
- Feed your dog high-quality meals on a regular schedule in a quiet place.
- Walk your dog a minimum of twice a day. Active dogs may also require vigorous off-leash exercise in a secure area.
- Until your dog is housetrained, sleeping in a crate in someone’s bedroom is recommended.
- Use treats as rewards for good behavior, or as training aids.
- Teach your dog that they must ask for things they like by sitting politely, rather than by making demands.
Take a dog training class
Taking your dog – and your family – to dog training classes is a wonderful and fun way to help you understand how your dog thinks and learns, and how to motivate him or her to repeat behaviors you like!
In class, trainers should give clear instructions and explanations, provide demonstrations for each exercise, and give individual feedback while everyone in the class is given an opportunity to try the lesson with their own dog. Most basic puppy and adult classes typically cover the following verbal cues in class: sit, down, stand, stay, off, come, walking on leash without pulling, and a few fun tricks.
All trainers have slightly different styles – from enthusiastic, fun, and fast-paced to more serious or relaxed. Ask to view a class beforehand and find one that interests you. Many schools welcome school-age children so ask what their policy is if you’re interested in having your kids participate.
Seeing Your Vet
It is always a good idea to start your journey with your new dog with a trip to the vet. Our team at Kittrell Animal Hospital know how important preventive care is for every dog, but little might be known about the medical history of your rescued or adopted dog. It is important to get them checked out to make sure they can have the healthiest start to their new life.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.