Updated: Feb 5
After you have throughly thought about and made the decision to add another member to your tribe, consider adopting your new pet from a shelter or rescue group. Many animals have found themselves in the situations in which they are no longer wanted, unable to be cared for or even injured and rejected. Choosing a rescue or shelter dog is a great place to start, however before jumping in, there are a few things to know. Shelters and rescue groups often have what is called the Rule of Threes:
3 days to shed their shelter shock,
3 weeks to show their personality, and
3 months to become your dog.
Your home is another blur of unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells that have been your dog's reality for weeks and in most cases months. It takes time and a consistent schedule to communicate that your new dog is safe. Following these tips below will help to set you on the road to success.
Tip # 1
Before you adopt, decide on household boundaries and rules. Block off areas that are off-limits. Expect some house training challenges and prepare an area that's easy to clean up where your new dog is safe to relieve themself without punishment. If you plan to crate-train, get this set up before you bring your new dog home. Your new dog will have accidents. Stress, new food, new environment are catalysts for digestive issues. Be prepared for frequent trips outside. If you've already adopted, it's never too late to establish a routine. Though it seems like starting over, it's well worth the effort.
Tip # 2
Dogs, like children, do best when they know what's expected of them. The best way to communicate expectations is with a strict routine and clear boundaries. Even if your household is laid-back or chaotic, especially during this pandemic, establish some guidelines for your new dog. In general:
Plan for at least 4-5 relief walks and one long exercise walk per day: first thing in the morning, mid-morning, mid-afternoon, post-dinner, and before bedtime. You can adjust this over time, but dogs who know their relief schedule behave better since it alleviates the stress and worry of having an accident. This is the perfect opportunity to hire a pet service company like Wagging Tails, to adhere to this schedule while you are away or at work.
Establish a feeding schedule and stick to it. For new dogs, lighter feeding 3 times a day makes for easier potty planning. We highly advise you to NOT FREE FEED as this makes potty scheduling tough to predict. Be sure to follow the pet food guidelines for feeding and don't overfeed as this leads to weight gain, injury, and other health problems. Establish good feeding habits right away.
Get a good leash (leather for stronger dogs) and appropriate collar/harness so you can establish positive leash habits right away. We recommend the front-pull style harnesses, like the Easy Walk for large or "pully" dogs. Retractable leashes are discouraged as they do not allow firm control of the dog. People who enjoy walking their dog will walk them more often, and dogs that get more exercise are better behaved.
Socialize, socialize, socialize. Not so easy when distancing but if your dog is friendly, and you know of other friendly dogs, plan for some playdates. Dogs crave the company of other dogs and getting time to hang with friends will fulfill your pup in ways you cannot. Wagging Tails offers an Adventure walk which can be done with other pups for the exact purpose of socializing in a neutral territory while getting great exercise. If your new dog is not dog-friendly, talk to a trainer about things you can do to help your dog overcome his or her fears.
Adopting a shelter or rescue dog can be a rewarding experience. Just remember that simply springing the dog from his current placement is not enough. You need to provide food, shelter, love, structure, boundaries, and exercise. Wagging Tails can partner with you to help your dog on his/her way to success through scheduled exercise, socialization, adventures, and training walks.