Adopting a Shelter Pooch: Why the First Month Matters Most
Adjusting to new surroundings is challenging for anyone when they are faced with the prospect of moving home so you can understand how difficult it must be for a dog to be taken out of a kennel environment, even when they are coming to a loving home.
A shelter pooch will have spent weeks or months surrounded by lots of other dogs and plenty of noise, not to mention what they must have had to go through to end up in a shelter in the first place.
That first few weeks when they come to live with you will shape their life with you as a much-loved family pet, which is why it matters so much.
Plan for the big day
To help keep the stress and trauma of a move to a new environment as minimal as possible, it is important that you make plans for the big day, so that you are ready for your new arrival.
Make sure that you have organized some comfortable bedding and ideally pick out a couple of different spots in the house where they can settle down and relax.
Water and food bowls should be in place ready for use when they arrive, even if they are a bit hesitant to eat as much as usual in the beginning because of all of the upheaval. Plan ahead for their arrival by checking with the shelter what they have been feeding your dog whilst with them and also check to see if they are aware of any allergies.
A harness and a generous leash should be ready so that you can get to know each other with a nice walk in the local area and arrange for some toys and anything suitable that you think they will enjoy to play with, like a Kong, which is always a popular choice.
Make sure that your dog is safely secured for the journey from the shelter to their new home.
Although some owners are a bit unsure about using a crate, dogs can find things like car journeys very stressful, so it helps keep them calm if they feel safe and secure in a crate. There are some handy tips available about how to get the best out of using a crate and you will often find that your new dog will often be quite pleased to seek solace in their very own space and most dogs don’t display an aversion to going in them, provided they are used properly and responsibly. However, there may be some dogs that do not like getting inside a crate. If you find yourself in such a situation, you might be interested in looking for feasible options such as an outdoor bed for instance (you can find more information about them at https://animalsmatter.com/collections/outdoor-beds). Having beds like those while on the road can provide them with a sense of comfort.
That said, start off how you mean to go on with regard to important routines like feeding and toilet training, which is another area where a crate can help if there are toilet issues to contend with.
In just the same way that we can take a few weeks to fully get to grips with a new environment, many dogs probably won’t display their true personality for a few weeks after they have been adopted by you.
Your shelter dog is now part of your family and you can even celebrate with some dog Christmas ornaments that look like your pooch so they aren’t left out when the time for festivities comes around.
You can hopefully look forward to a long and loving life together with your dog and if you stick to the original schedule that you created when they first arrived, that fun will begin very shortly after they come to live you and leave the shelter behind.
Diane Walsh has been a successful dog breeder for many years. She is always pleased to share her insights with an online audience and you can find other posts by her on a number of different canine-friendly websites.