It’s always a good idea to take your time when adopting a dog, and not to rush into it. Especially if it’s the first time you are adopting. You want to be prepared and set everyone, hoomans and animals up for success. I have put together a couple of pointers for you to ponder upon before you start the adoption process.
1. Go and meet the dog.
Do not rely on the dog’s photograph and the short description when making your decision. Spend some time with the dog and get a feel for his/her temperament. If you are not sure, go visit the dog again, and make sure all family members are in agreement.
2. Manage your expectations.
You might have dreamed up your dog to be a specific way and to like specific things, but those things rarely turns into reality. Enjoy getting to know who your dog really is, and give him the time and space to find his place in your household.
3. Your dog’s spot.
Try not to overwhelm your dog with things you want him to try out all at once. Let him investigate and discover everything on his own. You will see that he might have a preference for specific spots in and around the house where he feels safe while he settles in, if he is not in harm’s way, leave him be. If it is a concern, remove his access to that spot completely, so that you do not need to add stress to the situation by trying to get him away from it all the time.
4. Take some time off.
If you can’t, collect your dog before your weekend, so that you could help him settle in. Keep an eye on him and his activities, he will quickly show you if your yard is really secure enough, or if all the valuables are really out of his reach. And it’s better if you are home to resolve these issues, than having to go find your now lost, newly adopted dog.
5. Make sure that everyone is in agreement on what the dog’s boundaries will be.
It will really help him if everyone is consistent and clear about what he is allowed and not allowed. Especially while he is still getting to know everyone and his place.
6. Expect behaviour changes.
Your newly adopted dog is going to suppress some behaviours and personality quirks, because his world has just been turned around. After about three weeks, you will see his true colours starting to show through.
7. One dog at a time.
Avoid adopting two or three dogs at the same time if it’s your first time adopting one. Take the time to figure things out with the one dog first, it will be much easier on both of you.
8. Breed specific rescues.
If you are adopting a specific breed, do a lot of research on the breed, their temperament, their general health, grooming requirements, activity level and of course size. Shelters hear the ‘he’s too big for the yard’ or ‘he sheds’ too much, much too often.
9. Bonding opportunities.
A bond does not always just magically happen, bonds need to be built. Especially with a dog who’s been sent from here to there. Consider activities you can take part in with your dog which would be fun for both of you.
10. Information on the dog.
Keep in mind that shelters usually only have the information they’ve been given about a dog, and not all shelters are able to assess dogs properly. If you do notice some behaviour concerns, contact a non-intimidation based trainer or behaviourist, sooner rather than later.