“Today is the day!” you wake up thinking, as a big warm stretch begins your day. The sun is shining, the grass is green — ah — a beautiful day for adoption! You are ready and committed to finding your perfect pooch. Or at least you think you are… It couldn’t be that hard, right?
You don’t realize until you’re making your way back home from the shelter, with a happy puppy slobbering all over the passenger seat, that you’re not sure where to begin! Well, have, no fear. It is common for people to feel frozen after following through the adoption process. Once the waiting is over, what are the first steps to giving pups a happy and healthy home?
Luckily, there are many easy ways to ensure that your new ball of sunshine will stay safe and comfortable at their new home while keeping you sane throughout the beginning stages. To help you get started, here are a couple tips on what to do within the first 30 days.
There are a few steps that should probably be taken even before you bring a new dog into your home. These include: knowing where your dog will be spending most of its time, dog-proofing the area and pre-planning training techniques.
Even older dogs in a new atmosphere may be prone to accidents, so — young or old — it may be a good idea to start your pup set up in the kitchen. That way, cleanups remain easy and in a concentrated area.
On to dog proofing! You will want to remove loose cables, shoes, things low to the ground that can be easily chewed or swallowed, as well as chemical cleaners that may be dangerous. Some people believe in setting up baby gates to teach their dogs to stay out of off-limits areas.
Training your new friend can sometimes be a challenge, but with a little bit of pre-planning, the task may not loom so large. It is helpful to know specific commands that will be used consistently throughout the training — for example: sit, stay, come, good, bad, etc. For the most part, these are just simple terms that the dog should become accustomed to over time. Just remember to be patient.
Once you’ve prepared your home, it’s time for the exciting part! Picking up your puppy will be without-a-doubt a stimulating experience, and it’s all in good fun, as long as you remember that this is a new experience for them too. There are many ways to keep the first-day situation as ‘underwhelming’ as possible.
Give them the gift of time and space! It may take them a while to get used to their new surroundings and they will probably appreciate some space at first. It is best to wait to introduce a new dog to children or other strangers until they have grown comfortable with the move.
Make sure you are stocked with the same food your dog was eating at the shelter. Keeping a regular diet is important! If you do happen to want to switch brands, do it over a week’s time, adding a little more each day.
After allowing some time to settle, direct your doggie to their new designated restroom area.
It will be helpful in the long run if the dog marks this territory from the get-go, so that in the future, even if accidents do happen, you can go back to this “bathroom area” and they are more likely to recognize what they should have gone there to do.
Even in this first day, it is important to get started on a sort of daily routine. You can implement regular bathroom breaks, feeding times, daily walks and most importantly…playtime! Training should be mixed in with playtime, but you will probably need to set aside a short time for just training as well. Make sure to reward them for good behavior! They’ll appreciate the gesture just as much as you’ll appreciate their progress.
A final thought on the matter, if you are crate training your dog, make sure there is a space set up for them. This should be their safe zone! Keep it open and available at all times.
In the next few weeks following the adoption, you will work on creating that special bond with your dog. The connection should come in no time! Dogs are incredibly loving creatures, and they want nothing more than to make YOU happy, so do the same for them.
Stick to your original schedule for meals, walks, and so on. It will help you keep track of the time you’re spending with your dog and making sure they are getting the attention they need!
Don’t be afraid to plan visits to the vet, in fact, it is encouraged! Every dog needs certain shots and vaccinations to keep them healthy, as well as distanced from pests like ticks or fleas. So, when in doubt… Check it out.
Group training classes are often very helpful when working towards behavioral goals with your new dog so it can be a very good idea to sign up. Just make sure that your dog stays happy and active the whole time, rather than being bullied by another dog, or even worse — the bullier itself.
Finally, keep in touch with a trainer. If your dog is having any behavioral issues, this would be the person to ask. They probably have some great tips for developing personal relationships too!
It is one thing to bring a pet home from a shelter, but there is an even more important layout behind providing a happy home for any animal. It doesn’t take much to give them the love and support they deserve. With these steps, anyone can be a first class pet owner in no time.