Adopting a dog can be a rewarding experience as you are adding a new lovable member to your family. However, it is a big responsibility as well. Everyone in your household needs to agree with the decision to adopt a dog and understand all of the commitments such as time, money, and care. Some families find it to be a better choice to foster a dog first to see if a dog is the right fit for their home. This is also a great way to learn more about pet ownership and gain experience on taking care of a fur baby.

On the other hand, if you know you and your family are ready to adopt, congratulations on bringing a new dog into your life! But before you shower your new dog with love, here are some things to keep in mind as your new pet adjusts to their new family.

First: Take Your Time on the Decision

With the increase of number of dogs in need of home, you might be considering to adopt a rescue dog. However, before you do, there are many things to consider to make sure the dog will have a happy home. For example, do you live in an apartment, or a house with a yard? Do you travel a lot? Who will take care of the pup when you’re not home? Do your family members want a new dog just as much as you do? As you can see, there are many questions to ask yourself before adopting a dog.

It’s important to take your time when deciding if this is the best choice for you and your family. You should never rush into adopting a dog if you are not 100% ready for the commitment. Dogs need your love, support, and time for a healthy and happy life.

Don’t Believe the Misconceptions About Shelter Dogs

A common misconception about shelter dogs is that they are broken, abused, or problematic. While there are plenty of dogs who have been through traumatic situations or need extra medical or behavioral care, shelter dogs are placed in a shelter for a variety of reasons. However, what all dogs want is just a loving and caring home. Shelters have a ton of healthy and happy dogs who are playful, active, and loving. 

Although there are some dogs who can be a bit needier of your attention, nothing is better than locking eyes with a dog and knowing they are the perfect fit for your home!

Pet Proof Your Home

Whether you are adopting a puppy or an older dog, curiosity can get the better of him, especially in a new environment. Before you bring your new dog home, make sure your home is a safe place for him by pet proofing your home. Roam around your house to check for any potential dangers either on the floor or anywhere they can reach. This could be electrical cords, poisonous houseplants, or any items that are small enough for them to swallow.

Even after pet proofing your home, you should not let your dog unsupervised in the house until they have learned what is off limits. This will help to prevent your dog from learning bad habits while you’re not looking. Even better, you’ll avoid having to buy all new shoes because your dog chewed up one from each pair! Just remember, dogs don’t have any concept of how much something costs or what they mean to you, so don’t blame your dog for your mistake of leaving the item laying around! Furthermore, dogs might chew on things because they are stressed or anxious. Dogs love to chew because it’s fun, so make sure to have available appropriate chew toys for them and keep items you don’t want chewed out of their reach.

Essential Supplies

Leash & Collar – A breakaway collar is a great idea for your dog for everyday wear. They are designed to unsnap easily if the collar gets caught on something so your dog doesn’t get choked. For walks, a buckle collar or harness is a better choice because they are designed not to unsnap easily so your dog doesn’t run off.

ID Tag

Accidents happen and you never know if and when your dog will get lost or run away. If dogs don’t know their way back home, they can’t call someone for help. Get a collar with proper tags that have your dog’s name and at least two phone numbers for you or your family. Microchipping is another great way to make sure your dog gets back home again. If you move, make sure you update the tags and give the microchip company your new information. Ask your parents to talk to your dog’s vet for more information.

Food – 

Changing a dog’s food abruptly can cause diarrhea, sometimes for several weeks. To avoid this, continue feeding the same food provided by the foster home, or mix the old with the new to gradually adjust your dog to a new diet.  Instructions on switching to a new food as well as guidelines on how much to feed your dog and how often should be on the bag itself, however most dog food brands also have this information on their website.

Food & Water Dishes –

Pick a spot and leave them in the same place so your dog knows exactly where to go for water. Make sure the water bowl is clean and has fresh water at all times.

Crate – 

Crates make the adjustment period less stressful for you and your new puppy. Dogs love having their own space and “den” to feel safe in. The crate should be big enough for your dog to stand up, turn completely around and lie down comfortably in. However, if the crate is too big your dog may have accidents in it.

Toys – 

Safe toys help dogs ease stress and have fun! Having toys available will ease the adjustment period. Always supervise your dog when playing with toys.

Your New Dog Is Scared

Moving to a new place with new people can be very stressful for dogs. Some dogs may experience stomach upset or diarrhea. Some might even shy away from you for a while until you earn their trust. It’s important to be patient with them and make them feel comfortable and safe. Each dog is different but it could take anywhere from three days to three months for your new dog to settle in.  

If you’re adopting a puppy rather than an adult dog, expect an adjustment period for yourself, too! Adopting a puppy is like having a baby. There will be lots of potty breaks because their bladder isn’t yet fully developed. Expect to get up a couple of times during the night for potty breaks.

If you work, plan to come home every day at lunch to let your puppy outside to go the bathroom. If you can’t come home, consider hiring a pet sitter. You should plan to let your dog outside to go to the bathroom several times a day. Puppies will also chew on everything available, so don’t make anything available that he shouldn’t chew on.

You Don’t Know Your Dogs Personality Yet

Rescue dogs, especially older ones, can be unpredictable. Never leave your children alone with a new dog, even if you think it’s the sweetest dog ever. You should take your time to get to know your dog so you know how they react to certain things and what their behavior and temperament is like. Not all dogs who come from a shelter are abused dogs and not every dog has been mistreated, however, they could have still been through trauma and can be unpredictable.

Rules and Training

It’s much easier to prevent a bad habit from starting rules and training than it is to break one. Not only that, but dogs, like children, like rules and structure. It makes them feel more secure to know exactly what is expected of them and exactly what happens if they don’t follow the rules. Here are some things to keep in mind when training your new dog.

  • Do not leave your new dog unsupervised in the house unless he is crated until he has learned the rules.
  • No unsupervised time unless crated also helps with house-training. If he doesn’t have a chance to make a mistake, the bad habit won’t form.
  • If you don’t want dogs on the furniture, don’t let him on the furniture just because he’s new.
  • Expect your dog to break the rules frequently in the beginning. He is not being stubborn or difficult. Dogs have a hard time getting used to new rules. It’s easy to get frustrated when you feel like he should understand already, but he still doesn’t.

Just like children, dogs need to be taught good behavior. Whether you’re bringing home a puppy or an adult, you can expect that he will do some things that you don’t approve of and maybe have some bad habits. Your dog will need to be taught how you want him to behave. The easiest and most fun way to teach your dog is to take him to behavior and training classes. This can be a great way for you two to bond and learn the rules! Plus, you both get to meet other people and dogs. You get the benefit of expert knowledge and immediate feedback.

You can also work on teaching your dog yourself. There are lots of resources available, but it can be difficult to determine which information is bad and which is good. If your dog has habits you’d like to break, don’t give up on him! Consistency is key.  Also, be consistent with your verbal cues and hand motions. One-word commands combined with a hand signal are best! Be persistent with your training and set aside time to practice every day until your dog reliably responds to your commands.

Training also makes dogs happy. The mental exercise can be just as rewarding to your dog as physical exercise.  As long as you use positive methods to teach your dog, he will love learning new tricks and rules. Training also helps your dog understand that they are supposed to take direction from you as their owner.