Adopting a dog is a wonderful way to bring joy into a home, and adoption may very well save a dog’s life. According to the Humane Society of the United States, between six and eight million pets end up in shelters each year and half of those are unlikely to be adopted.
Adjusting to life with a dog is not always easy. Owning a dog is a big responsibility, the scope of which first-time dog owners may not fully grasp until their furry friends arrive at their new homes for the first time. But there are ways to make the transition to dog ownership go smoothly, which should afford new dog owners more time to spend with the newest additions to their families.
- Prepare your home before Fido’s arrival. While many dogs adjust quickly to their new homes, preparing the home before dogs arrive can make that adjustment even easier for the dog. Dogs might be nervous and under significant stress when entering a new home for the first time, so prepare the area where the dog will be spending most of its time. Remove items that curious pooches may break, and don’t forget to move household cleaners from floor cabinets to high shelves so dogs won’t ingest anything harmful. Have a crate ready for the dog if you plan to crate him or her so you don’t have to introduce it after the pet has already grown acclimated to its new living arrangements.
- Prepare and stick to a schedule. Dogs benefit from routine, so before bringing your dog home figure out when you are going to feed and walk the dog, and which times of day you plan to play him or her. Examine your own schedule and recognize that you might need to make some changes to accommodate your new housemate. Stick to the same daily feeding, walking and socializing schedule, which should acclimate the dog more quickly. Another benefit to adhering to the same schedule is the dog will grow accustomed to relieving itself at the same time each day, reducing the likelihood of potentially messy accidents that no dog owner wants to clean up.
- Keep things calm. A hectic household might make it difficult for the dog to adjust, so remain calm and encourage other residents to do the same until the dog seems comfortable in its new surroundings. If necessary, limit visitors to your home and steer clear of the dog park or other places where the dog might become overexcited. As the dog grows more comfortable, you can then invite one or two friends over at a time and start taking the dog to the park as well.
- Take note of any irregularities. Some shelter dogs come from abusive situations, and the effects of those situations may still be lingering. While it’s perfectly reasonable to use leashes when walking dogs, recognize that some dogs may associate leashes or other objects with past abuse. In such instances, speak with your veterinarian about the best ways to address these irregularities, and always exercise patience as your dog adjusts to his or her new surroundings..
Shelter dogs often make great companion animals, and owners should afford their new dogs ample time to adjust to their new home.