Adopting a puppy from a shelter is a great idea. There are so many abandoned dogs just waiting for a loving home. It is a much better idea than getting a dog from a puppy mill. Often rescue shelters are overcrowded and if puppies aren’t adopted, they can end up on the euthanasia list.
Adopting a puppy from a shelter can sometimes have more challenges, but if you are well-prepared, the puppy will adapt to your home quite easily.
Get to Know Your Dog
Ask the shelter staff to tell you more about the specific dog breed or combo breed so you can understand your puppy’s personality. The staff will also be able to tell you about any special behavior quirks that they have picked up while looking after the puppy in the shelter.
Before adopting a puppy, you need to figure out what kind of energy will suit your personality and home dynamics. Each breed has its own challenges and rewards, there are a few conditions to keep in mind before making your selection.
Give the Puppy Time to Adjust
Getting a new dog is always very exciting and you can be tempted to coddle the puppy. It’s best to rather give the dog some space in the beginning to adapt to the new environment. If the puppy had been in the shelter for a while before being adopted, they won’t be used to excessive contact with people. In the beginning rather wait for the dog to make contact with you on its own terms.
Create a Safe Space
Puppies, like human babies, nap a lot in the beginning. You can decide whether you want to buy a special basket or a crate for your new four-footed family member. The bonus of a crate is that it naturally creates a safe space for the puppy to hide in when it wants to get away from everything and take a nap.
Also, if you will be travelling with your dog in the future, using the crate is a great idea help your dog get used to being confined in the crate. To help your dog get used to the crate in the beginning you can leave a familiar object in it, such as a blanket. You could also put a little treat in the crate to create a positive association with the crate.
Sign Up For Dog Training
The faster you begin with proper training, the better. You need to learn how to communicate with your puppy to create an agreeable extra member of your family. Dogs are pack animals and need a clear idea of who the pack leader is in your home. If you don’t take this role, your dog will gladly jump at the opportunity of taking this role.
Dogs also like clear-cut boundaries. The training will give you an opportunity to make the dog aware of what is acceptable behavior in your home. If you don’t have time for training classes or you don’t have access to any classes nearby, try watching some of Cesar Millan’s training videos, the dog whisperer.
Get Into a Walking Routine
Proper exercise is crucial for your dog to thrive. The earlier you start walking with your puppy on a leash, the better. It helps if you have a big yard where the dog can run around, but letting it explore the neighborhood with you is a great outing to stimulate your dog. It will also help the adopted puppy to become more familiar with its new environment.
Safely Lock the Dog Away When You Leave
In the beginning, you can’t trust your adopted puppy to roam about on its own when you are away. Once you’ve enforced proper training and the dog is aware of what can and can’t be done, you can let it out of its enclosure. But until you are satisfied that the puppy is following your house rules, rather lock the dog in its crate or in a safe enclosure where the puppy won’t be able to damage any of your belongings or hurt itself.
Don’t Expect Too Much From Your Puppy
The shelter might reassure you that the puppy has been house trained and has been properly socialized, but in the beginning it’s always a learning curve. You will need lots of patience to give your puppy time to find its feet in your home. The house training might fly out the window when nervousness about a new environment kicks in. Rather assume you will be starting the training from scratch.
Don’t Expect To Become Instant Bosom Buddies
As with any other type of relationship, bonding with your new dog will take time. Your adopted puppy will have to learn that it can trust you. This might take a few weeks, or even a few months. Training is a great way to get past this initial hurdle, even silly little tricks.
Dogs love attention and affirmation, so when you tell your puppy “good boy/girl” when it catches the ball and brings it back to you, the puppy’s heart will melt and accept you more eagerly as its owner.
Don’t Assume the Other Pets Will Love Your Adopted Puppy
Introducing a new animal into your home can be quite tricky. Firstly, you need to introduce the old pets to the adopted puppy in a neutral area. Give them plenty of time to become friends on their own terms. Don’t try to force them together. The same concept of bonding to you applies to bonding between animals – it takes time. Your adopted puppy will also need time to adjust to the new environment, so it’s a good idea to keep them separate from each other in the beginning.
Don’t Be Surprised If Your Puppy’s Personality and Behavior Changes
The first year with your new dog will almost be like the honeymoon phase of a new relationship. In the beginning it’s a big adventure for both of you to get to know each other. But then as your dog becomes more comfortable in its new environment, its true personality will pop up. You might start seeing behavioral problems that you will have to promptly address.
Don’t Compare Your Puppy Too Much With Other Dogs
When you start going to training classes you will notice other people’s interactions with their dogs and you might start feeling frustrated with your dog’s behavior style. No two dogs are the same, you have to celebrate your dog’s victories.
If your dog is fearful by nature, merely surviving a group class will be a great feat. For a feisty dog, finally submitting to you will be a great accomplishment. Celebrate the training milestones, whatever they might be!
Most Important: Have Fun!
Enjoy every special moment with your new four-footed family member. Don’t overthink things too much, as long as you remain calm and collected, your adopted puppy will follow suit. Dogs are very sensitive to the moods of their owners. Make your adopted puppy feel as comfortable as possible by showing it that you accept it.
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