Adopting a Dog
What to Do When You Are Ready to Bring Your Rescue Dog Home
Before you bring your dog home, be sure you have the following supplies:
- Settling into a new home can be a stressful and disorientating process for a puppy or dog. Your home is full of new noises, objects and people and at the same time, he has been separated from its usual source of comfort and reassurance.
- Stainless steel, non-tip food and water bowls.
- Identification tags with your dog’s name, your name, phone number and your veterinarian’s name and phone number. A collar and a leather or nylon 6-foot leash that’s 1/2 – 3/4 inches wide (consider using a “breakaway” collar with plastic clips that will unsnap in case your dog gets hung up on something).
- You might consider using a crate or kennel that will accommodate your dog’s adult size. This crate will serve as your dog’s new “den” at home, when travelling or riding to the veterinary clinic. His scent in the crate will provide comfort and a sense of security during these stressful times.
- Stain remover for accidental soiling.
- Brushes and combs suited to your dog’s coat; ask your veterinarian or local pet shop about an appropriate brush or comb for your dog.
- Dog shampoo, toothbrush and paste.
- High-quality, safe chew toys to ease teething.
- Flea, tick and parasite controls.
- Use stainless steel or ceramic, non-tip food bowls, which won’t break or absorb odours.
- Toys with parts that squeak or whistle can be dangerous if swallowed.
- For a comfortable collar fit, allow for two-fingers of space between the collar and your dog’s neck; consider using an adjustable collar.
Making a Home Safe
To make your home safe for your new dog, eliminate potential hazards around the house and pay attention to the following items:
- Keep breakable objects out of reach.
- Deny access to electrical cords by hiding or covering them; make outlets safe with plastic outlet plugs.
- Safely store household chemicals.
- Keep the following house and garden plants out of reach: poinsettias, azaleas, rhododendrons, dumb cane, Japanese yew, oleander, lilies and English ivy among others.
- In the garage, be sure engine lubricants and other poisonous chemicals (especially antifreeze) are safely stored.
- If you provide your dog with an outdoor kennel, place it in an area that provides sun and shelter in the pen; be sure the kennel is large enough to comfortably accommodate your dog.
Choosing a Name
Though you may already have a name for your new dog, here are some tips:
- Names should be short. A two-syllable name is preferable because it’s brief but won’t be confused with one-syllable commands such as “No” or “Sit.”
- Be consistent. All family members should use the same name-don’t use confusing nicknames or variations.
- Reward your dog’s attention/name recognition with lots of praise and play.
The First Days at Home
The ideal time to bring home a new dog is when the house is quiet. Discourage friends from stopping by and don’t allow overnight guests. First establish a daily routine and follow these steps:
Step 1: Before bringing him in the house, take him to the area in your garden that will serve as his “toilet” and spend a few minutes there. If he goes, praise him. If not, proceed into the house but be sure to take him to this spot each time he needs to go to the toilet.
Step 2: Take him to the room which will serve as his new “den” for several days. Put bedding and chew toys in the room, Let him investigate the room. If he chews or urinates on his bedding, permanently remove it.
Step 3: Observe and interact with your dog while he’s acclimating to his new den. This will help forge a sense of pack and establish you as the pack leader.
- Supervise your dog at all times and interact with him regularly.
- Be alert for signs (sniffing and circling) that he has to go to the toilet, then take him outside immediately.
- Don’t punish an accident. Never push his nose in the waste or scold him. He won’t understand, and may learn to go to the toilet when you’re out of sight.
- Praise your dog every time he goes to the toilet outside.
Special Puppy Concerns
If you have a puppy, don’t treat him like an adult dog. Treat him the same way you would your own infant: with patience, constant supervision and a gentle touch. The way you interact with your puppy at this age is critical to his socialisation. Use these tips:
- A young puppy has no bladder control and will need to urinate immediately after eating, drinking, sleeping or playing. At night, he will need to relieve himself at least every three hours, during the day at least once every hour.
Children and Pets
Ideally, your children should help you choose your new dog. When you bring him home, don’t let them play with him constantly. Puppies in particular need a lot of rest just like a growing child. Limit dog-children play sessions to 15-30 minute periods 2-3 times a day.
- Young children may be tempted to shout at a dog if they think he’s doing something wrong. Be sure they understand that puppies and dogs can be easily upset and startled by loud noises.
- No teasing. Keeping a toy just out of reach will reinforce bad habits such as jumping up and excessive barking.
- Wagging tails and play biting can be too rough for some young children. Teach the children to cross their arms or put their hands in their pockets if the dog has a tendency to play bite. Supervise all interaction and separate them if the play is too rough.
- Teach children to care for a dog by showing them how to feed and groom him.
Meeting Resident Pets
Keep resident pets separated from your new dog for a few days. After that time, let pets smell and touch each other through a slightly open door. Do this several times over the next few days. After that, give the resident pet access to the den area with your new dog. Supervise their meeting and go back to through-the-door meetings if trouble arises.
Tips for Successfully Changing Your Dog’s Diet.
Switching your dog’s diet to a new food takes some planning. Because dogs are creatures of habit, it is not uncommon for them to prefer their current food to a new food. They, like humans, can become accustomed to a food and may not welcome a disruption in their routine.
These tips should help you successfully transition your dog to a new food:
Introduce the new food gradually
This is the most successful way to ease your dog into the change in diet. Start by mixing 25% new food with 75% old food. Slowly change the proportions over the next three days or so by gradually increasing the amount of new food and decreasing the amount of old food. At the end of this weaning process, you should be feeding 100% of the new food. You may encounter some difficulties, such as your dog choosing to eat only the old food, or not eating at all. Not to worry, a healthy dog can miss meals for a day or two with no ill effects.
General Advice for Helping Your New Adopted Dog to Settle In
Contrary to myth, just because a dog has arrived in a rescue shelter does not actually mean there is something ‘wrong’ with the dogs. Quite the opposite in many cases. Dogs very often get put up for adoption for the exact same reasons children do i.e. they lose their parents or their original carers are incapacitated and are unable to care for them any more. This means that rescue centres are full of dogs who are actually brilliantly suited to be pets, often coming already well socialised, house trained and used to living in a family home. In many ways, rescue dogs can sometimes be the LEAST risky option when becoming a dog owner – you already know what you’re going to get.
It is very important to speak at great lengths with the staff at the shelter about the dog you are interested in. Sometimes we have plenty of background information on the dog and other times you don’t. What we will have though is an assessment of each individual dog’s suitability to go into a new home and fit a particular lifestyle.
Feel free to come and meet the dogs. Ask if it would be already to take the dogs for an accompanied walk and generally get to know the dogs outside of the kennel environment. Never judge a dog by how it acts in the kennels. Some dogs are COMPLETELY different to how they appear when behind the kennel gates. Don’t be put off.
When you first bring your dog home, try and establish routine as quickly as possible. It’s always tempting to make the dog’s first few days full of play and excitement. This can lead to problems though. So get the dog settled in, show them they have their own private area of the home which is just for them and let them settle in and relax.
We will provide guidance on the dog’s diet and health requirements.
Don’t do too much too soon. Dogs can be excitable and whilst it may be tempting to show the dog off to all your friends, family and neighbours, too much too soon can make the dog unsettled early on. Gently introduce them to new things.
If you encounter problems with the dog, be prepared to callus, speak to a vet or get the advice of a professional behaviourist. Too often people let little problems develop into big problems because they weren’t sure who to turn to for advice. Remember, with dogs there is never such a thing as a ‘silly question’.
Finally, be prepared to love the dog for the rest of its natural life. The very name ‘rescue’ dog is a little misleading. It suggest the dog needed to be’ saved’ or that the new owner is doing the dog a great favour. Well yes, the dog will be forever grateful for being given a happy, safe and stable home life but please, don’t consider rescuing a dog as something to try out. These dogs need and deserve longterm stability and a home for life. If you are in any doubt at all that you can provide that, you may be better suited to offering your help to the rescue centres and going and helping out with the dogs on a part time basis before you commit to giving the dog the life they deserve.