So, you’ve adopted a dog…now what?! Here are a few tips and suggestions of what you should do with your new family friend (in no particular order)!
#1-Usually you are given a packet of information, along with your new dog. This is important information, and you should really take time to look through it. Some common documents in an adoption packet are: microchip information, previous vet records, pamphlets for local companies (doggie daycares, pet sitters, trainers). Sometimes there will also be informative documents, like a list of poisonous plants, what to do if your pet is bitten by a snake, what foods to avoid, etc.
#2-Schedule an initial vet appointment within (at least) the first month of bringing the dog home. This may be necessary for vaccinations, depending on the age & history of the dog. If vaccinations are not yet needed, you should still bring the dog to your vet for a routine check up. This will allow you to see how the dog does in an exam type setting, and the vet can help with any questions you might have so far. This is also the time to stock up on heartworm preventative. The vet will also go over the previous records, and set up reminders in their system for when your dog will be due for vaccines. (Remember my previous post about vaccines and senior dogs? Check it out here!)
#3-Be mindful of the dog’s past experiences. Sure, you are going to love and spoil and care for your dog…but has he ever experienced that before? Does he get along with cat’s? Is he afraid of car’s? Remember, you’re dog may have been through some bad experiences, and will need time to adjust to the new setting, even if it is lovely & wonderful. Make sure you allow adjustment time before introducing your dog to other furry family members, and children should be taught the proper way to approach any new dogs.
#4-Give the dog space, literally & figuritively. I am a big believer in using crates for dogs, and it is a known fact that dogs are den animals. They like to have their own safe space. So be sure to have a kennel, with some comfy cozy blankets/towels. Depending on the dog, you may need to provide this space away from the rest of the family. Like Chelsea, she snapped at both of my dogs when she first came to me, and still loves to be in her kennel. She has opened up so much though, and has really come out of her shell, since then. You have to allow the dog to get used to the new surroundings. Also, be sure that the designated area is doggie-proofed!
#5-If possible schedule the adoption for when you will be home for a couple of days, like on a Friday for example. You don’t want to bring home a dog, where he then has to be in a kennel for the next 8 hours while you are at work. It is best to be able to spend time with the dog for a couple of days, leaving only for quick errands. This will allow the dog to see that, 1-you are coming back, and 2-that the kennel is a good, safe place.
#6-Start basic training right away. Don’t let the dog get away with little things now (chewing up a coaster, getting on the couch, etc), that you won’t allow later. You should (gently but firmly) establish the pack order from day one. You are the pack leader, and the dog should know that right away. Also, there can only be ONE pack leader…so, chose between husband vs wife, roommates, etc. This will also make for an easier transition for the dog. They like to be part of a pack, and if there is no battle for who’s in charge, everything will go much more smoothly!
#7-Set up a strict routine, and follow it. Find out what and when the dog was eating, and try to keep that in mind. Especially for potty training, a routine is key! My dogs are on such a routine now, that I can tell what time it is just by their behaviors. Every morning at 7:45, they are all waking up & wiggling. This means potty & food! Then, at 10:45-11, all of a sudden they are up and moving. Even Chelsea will start whining & moving around in her kennel. This is their outside playing time. After about 20 mins, they all come back inside, and go right back to sleep…until the next time to go outside. This happens every day, like clockwork! Just like dogs need a pack leader, they need a routine. They are creatures of habit!
#8-Limit the excitement for at least the first few weeks. Meaning, don’t take your dog to a dog park, the second day you have him. Let him get used to his new life. Once you feel that you know your dog, and your dog has trust in you, then go for new outings. Remember, just because your dog likes the other family pets, does not mean it will be the same with other dogs. Dogs can often be aggressive on a leash, and perfectly fine when loose. Personally, I think a controlled setting (like a dog daycare) is a great place to start. It is controlled, with a professional person, who knows all of the dogs well. For example, when I took Chelsea to Doggie Dayz, I called ahead of time to give a little info on Chelsea. When we went there, several of the dogs were sectioned off, with only a handful in the front to greet Chelsea. This allowed Chelsea time to come in, without being completely overwhelmed. (She took it all in stride, and has done great with her visits there!)
#9-Put new tags on your dog! This is important, especially once you start going on outings. Make sure the dog has a tag with emergency contact info, a current rabies tag, as well as a microchip tag if appropriate.
#10-Allow for bonding. With two dogs of my own, and a foster, it can sometimes be a bit hectic! So, I like to give each dog some special “me” time. Whether it is taking a quick car ride, or putting two outside to give one some special cuddles. Each dog gets to have a little time to themselves with me. This is especially important for a new dog in your home. You want them to learn that you are the good guy, and that they can trust you.
So, those are my tips & suggestions! I hope they are helpful to someone! If you have any tips or advice, feel free to share. And, happy Friday! 🙂
PS-Hopefully I will have some super exciting news on Monday, so stay tuned!