Adopting an Adult Dog!

Gram and I are enjoying a nice quiet “after Easter” time together. All the signs of the Easter Bunny have been put away and “No,” I did not have one tiny nibble of a chocolate rabbit. Gram said she ate my share. The Easter Bunny brought me a stuffed squeaky rabbit and a few chewy bones, but no chocolate.

Anyway as usual we were having a conversation about “what should our next blog” be about. And since one of Gram’s friends just got a new dog from the animal shelter, we decided to talk about some tips for starting life with a new adult dog.

One of the things we thought was most important is, if you are a family, the whole family should be involved in the process of adopting the dog. This way everyone has a voice in choosing the right pet for the family.

Choose wisely, taking under consideration the family’s routine and schedules. The more prepared you are before you take the dog home, as far as schedules and distribution of duties concerning the care of the dog, the better the whole experience will be.

When you find the dog of your choice, play it cool when you first meet, let the dog set the tone for the meeting. Some dogs prefer quiet greetings and others might go for a bit louder and wilder type of greeting.

Keep in mind that when dogs meet each other, they do not look into each other’s eyes, they keep their eyes averted, and they also take time to sniff each other out. Not that Gram and I are suggesting you do that, but refrain from hugs and deep looks into the eyes some dogs may take that as an act of aggression.

Next watch the dog’s body language. If the dog stands tall and has a forward leaning posture, it means he is confident and assertive.

If he wags his tail gently and has a gentle interest in what is going on around him, the dog is probably an easy going, friendly type of dog.

If the dog hangs back and appears a little worried, he is probably timid and is lacking in confidence.

Knowing your dog’s personality at first will help you to know what to expect from him/her and you can take steps to keep the dog from being overwhelmed.

Secondly, once the choice is made and you are getting ready to bring the dog home from the shelter, make certain the dog is wearing some kind of ID that has your address and at least two phone numbers on it. A new dog in a totally different atmosphere may get scared and somehow escape from you.

Most animal shelters will give you some sort of ID when they hand over the leash. Gram and I suggest getting a microchip or a tattoo as soon as possible. Also make certain your new dog is wearing their rabies tag.

Once you have your dog home, do not let him/her off leash until you are certain the dog is familiar with its new home. Even in a fenced in yard it is suggested that you supervise the outings until you are certain there are no escape routes to be found.

Some dogs will bond with one person and seem to stay with that person no matter what, other dogs take more time to bond with family members and need to be supervised for a while.

Gram says when you bring the dog home, assume the worst, that means assume that your new dog does not understand any of the house rules.

It is safe to say that maybe the reason the dog was at the shelter in the first place was because no one took time to teach the dog the rules of the house.

Disregard the dog’s age and treat him/her as a puppy. Dog proof your home; teach the family members to keep all “good” things out of the dog’s reach. Make an effort to do potty calls outside frequently, until you can see a routine being established. In order to have a happy life with your new family member plan ahead before you bring him/her home?

Remember this is a new thing for your dog, he does not know you or you know him/her. The transition if possible should have someone home with him/her for the first few days. If you or a member of your family can be home to supervise the dog’s activities and find out how much he knows and understands it will lead to a much happier experience for all concerned.

It will also help with the feeling of isolation and prevent damage to things in your household. Dogs that have had several homes are somewhat prone to depression when left alone at first. They need to establish for themselves that they are in their “forever home.’

If you can get your new dog into a frame of mind to accept being crated, crate the dog and leave it alone for a few minutes. During the time you are at home, gradually increase the amount of time that the dog is crated and you leave. This will then assure the dog that when you leave, you will come back and then when you go back to work, it will not be a shock to him/her.

The same procedure should apply if you are not using a crate and have given the dog some freedom in the house.

Dogs live and love routine and will follow rules as long as they are rules that do not change on a whim. Before you bring a dog home, establish rules beforehand if you are a family.

  • If the dog is allowed on the furniture one-day and not the next, the dog will not understand and become stressed. Establish what furniture the dog can be on and set it as a rule.
  • Decide who is in charge of feeding the dog and checking the water bowl.
  • Decide who is going to walk the dog and establish rules for the time and where to walk the dog.
  • Who is in charge of potty-training at least until the dog is comfortable in the home?
  • Where is the dog going to sleep? A dog needs to know and to have its own place if possible.
  • Who is the primary trainer (though all members should have some part in training?)
  • Discuss what other rules there should be and how to handle them.
  • Socializing the dog is very important and needs to be done from the very start. Discuss what methods and situations are to be followed.
  • Keep in mind dogs need attention, love, toys and training. A busy and tired dog is a happy and less mischievous dog.

    Write the rules down and post them in various places so that all members of the family become familiar with them. Training your dog starts the moment it walks in the front door not two or three days later.

    Many families have more than one pet and so it is necessary to follow proper rules to introduce the pets to each other. This needs to be done with extreme care especially if you have a cat or other small animal. As dogs are predators by nature and problems could become serious.

    Gram and I hope that this will help you and your new dog live a happy and long life together.

    Until next time, I remain

    Your Sadie