Adopting a dog is a serious decision not to be taken lightly, and you need to do lots of research to make sure it’s the right decision for you. There are many things you’ll need to consider, which include costs, your family type, how often you are home, going through training, and more.
At some point, everyone at LoveYourDog has been first-time dog adopters. There are a few things we wish we’d known at the start of our journey to make things easier. To make your adoption journey easier, we’ve compiled 11 different things you should know before welcoming a dog into your home. So, let’s get you started on your doggy adoption journey!
Tips Before You Adopt a Dog
Before you adopt a dog, there are many things that you need to think about as well as prepare. Many rescue dogs have had a rough start to life or a reason to suddenly need rehoming. So, not only is it important that you make all the right decisions. But you also need to provide them with a stable home life from the get-go. Remember the five Ps: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
Research, Research, Research
The reason you are probably here is that you have already started your research, so well done! It’s important to research all of this before you adopt a dog. There’s nothing worse in life than an adopted dog being sent back to the rescue shelter. This is especially true when humans realize the dog isn’t a good fit only because they failed to do the necessary research.
With so many dogs out there waiting for their forever home, you need to consider what breed of dog you want. Do you want a sedentary dog who doesn’t need too much exercise? Or maybe you are looking for a more energetic family-friendly dog that loves adventure weekends. All dog breeds are different, and they all have different needs. So, you need to match the dog’s needs to yours. You also need to research local laws and tenancy agreements regarding particular breeds, too.
It’s not just the breed and their activity levels to take into account either. You need to think about the age of the dog. Do you want a younger dog who can spend many years with you? Or maybe you are looking for an older dog who is struggling to find a home? And then there’s size, ongoing costs, grooming requirements, training needs, and overall breed health. If you are a young family or a multi-pet household, do they get on well with kids and other animals?
It’s a Family Thing
Now you’ve completed your research, you’re ready to move onto the next step. And that is getting the whole family on board. We’re not talking second cousins and great-great-grandpa here, just the people in your home. Does everyone in the family home want to welcome a dog into their life? Get your family around the table and talk about all things dog.
Is everyone happy with the choice you’ve made about the breed, age, size, etc.? Is everyone willing to help out with doggy tasks? Or is it just you taking on the responsibility? Everyone needs to share their opinion and agree (at least on most counts).
Once you all have a clearer picture in your mind about your future life with a dog, the rescue ride will be much smoother. Unfortunately, some people make a decision based on their wishes, rather than everyone else’s, and often this doesn’t end well.
Once You’ve Found Your Hound
So, you’ve found your canine soulmate, congratulations! Now that you’ve signed your name on the dotted line, there are a few things that you need to do before you get him or her home. Everything must be just right for when they finally arrive. You don’t need to roll out the red carpet, although you can if you want to! Just a few basics that many first-time dog owners overlook. Let’s take a look.
Make Your House a Home
You’re a first-time dog parent, so the likelihood is you don’t have anything dog-related in your house yet. Sit down and write a list of everything your pup will need when they arrive. From bowls to beds, collars to crates, food to poop bags. If they need it in the first few weeks, be prepared and purchase it before they arrive. Be sure to ask the rescue center for their measurements, too, so that you can invest in the right sizes.
Getting everything ready means that the day before they arrive, you can move things around and make space for their things. You also need to make sure that your home is safe for them. Any debris in the yard must be gotten rid of, and household chemicals must be out of reach.
Many owners don’t realize that some plants and essential oils in air diffusers are toxic to dogs, so check these out too. Stair gates are also a good idea for those who do not want pets upstairs or in certain rooms.
Fido is your new family member now, and he needs his own space. Putting beds and bowls out allows you to set a routine from day one to avoid any confusion or change down the line. Moving house is a big change, so make it as smooth as possible for him. Prepping it all the day before also means that if you’ve forgotten anything, you can pop out at the last minute to get it.
Register With a Vet
Depending on where you live, there might be a waiting list for a vet appointment. It’s best to register with a vet as soon as you know the date you are bringing your dog home. Tell them that you’re about to welcome a rescue dog into your life and that you’d like to book your first health checkup. You will then update them with any information you have, along with what vaccinations or medications you may need.
You also need to consider taking out pet health insurance, especially if you aren’t in a position to pay for huge vet bills upfront should your pup need it. Be honest with the details you enter to make sure that you are covered if something happens.
Always read the small print to know what type of insurance you are taking out. There are many different types of policies, and some do not cover pre-existing conditions. Not only will insurance keep your pup healthy, but it will also give you peace of mind.
Set Up Your Contact Details
When you arrive at the rescue shelter, you need to put a tag with all your contact details on your dog’s collar. Moving environments can be a stressful time for a dog, especially a rescue dog.
Sadly, many stressed dogs make a dash for it before they even make it to their new home. With owners realizing they hadn’t got round to giving them a tag yet. You need to make sure that your pup can be returned to you should they escape.
But tags aren’t the most reliable way for your dog to be identified. Your dog could slip their collar, or someone could simply remove it. So for another layer of protection, you should get your dog microchipped. Most rescue shelters will ensure that all dogs are chipped before they leave. They should update the chip with your details as the new owner and provide you with the unique ID number. But always ask them about their policies as this is not always the case.
If your new pup hasn’t been chipped, please consider doing so. A microchip is no bigger than a grain of rice, and it is a painless procedure. It holds your pet’s unique ID details, and it cannot be removed or lost. If you lose your dog, the chances of him being returned to you are significantly higher with a microchip.
Bringing Your Pup Home
The day that you’ve been patiently waiting for has arrived! You’ve picked him or her up, and you’re walking out of the rescue shelter. You are officially now a dog mom or dad, and it’s all down to you! It might seem daunting, but with our next tips, you’ve got this!
If you take anything away from this article, it should be this tip. Most dogs need some time to settle in, so you have to be patient. This is especially true of rescues that may have had it hard, and they need a little more time than others to take things in. Yes, you are about to spoil them rotten and give them all your love, but they don’t know that yet. They need to learn to trust you first and to do that, you need to be patient with them.
From the very moment you walk them outside of the shelter, you need to be patient with everything. From getting them into the car (and getting them out again!) to walking them into your home. Let them sniff and check everything out in their own time. Never rush, push, or drag them inside or around. If they’re an anxious dog, the rescue center might offer you a blanket with the shelter’s familiar smell to make them feel more at ease.
Don’t expect them to feel at home right away. In times of stress, some dogs act out in ways they wouldn’t normally, such as peeing indoors, hiding, or chewing things. They might howl or cry in the nighttime for the first week, or it may take them several days to just leave their crate. Be there for them, and make everything as positive as possible.
Remember, if you are unsure about anything, call the rescue shelter for advice! They are there to help, and they want things to work out too.
Crate training is a must for most dogs. Your rescue dog might have had a troubled or unstable past. Not only are they a huge part of your life now, but they are a valued member of the pack.
Like you have your bed to sleep or rest in peace, a crate gives a dog a safe space to sleep or relax too. Showing your new rescue pup their new space on day one can help provide a sense of safety and comfort. If you have that familiar blanket mentioned earlier, place it in their crate.
Science shows most dogs are happier with a crate in their life. It might take time if they are not already crate trained, but it is relatively simple once you know how to. Make their crate comfy and enticing, and always make it a positive experience with treats and praise whenever they climb in. Be patient and let your dog sniff it out, and never force him in. Dogs naturally crave shelter, so see this as their den rather than a prison.
Set a Routine
And stick to it! Like we keep saying, rescue dogs need stability more than other dogs. So, establish a routine on day one. Walk your canine companion at the same time in the morning where possible, so they get used to scheduled poop time. And the same goes for feeding times at breakfast, dinner, and evening walks, etc.
Your schedule doesn’t have to be rigid. But by implementing a generic routine, Fido will settle in quicker, and he or she will get used to family life with you. Fit the routine around your life and work schedule, and make it realistic for you and your lifestyle. Of course, there will be days where something unexpected comes up, but that’s ok. If Fido has an otherwise stable routine, they’ll be able to handle a curveball.
Get the Whole Family Onboard
Similar to the tip where we suggested that the whole family share their thoughts and doggy desires, it’s time for them to put their money where their mouth is. Enroll the kids to help out with training – it will help Fido understand that they are to respect everyone in the family, no matter their size or shape. Get your partner to take their share of doggy duties, such as exercise, grooming, or even just poop scooping. This should all form part of Fido’s new routine.
While you might want to do it all, Fido needs to respect the other members of your family as much as they do you. Plus, if you have to take a trip for work or you, for example, break a leg, you’re not going to be able to walk Fido. You need your family’s support in looking after him or her.
Be Consistent With Training
If your new pup has been previously trained, even if it’s just ‘sit,’ be sure to ask the rescue shelter what command words he or she knows and continue to use them. If they have had no previous training, it’s down to you to set the rules and command words.
Take the time to learn the basics of dog training so that you can implement it into their everyday life. It’s also a great idea to enroll yourselves in an obedience training course. Not only is this great for discipline, but it is also great for socialization and bonding time.
Always use the positive reinforcement training method too. This means every time he or she exhibits desirable behavior, reward them with praise, treats, or toys. Find out what your new dog responds best to, and use this to your advantage. Some dogs cannot resist treats, and some will only be interested in bouncy balls. Whatever it is, use it during training sessions for the best results.
The best tip when it comes to dog training is to be consistent. You need to use the same command words if you want them to perform the same behavior each time. This also means getting the whole family involved and ensuring that they also use the same command words. If you don’t allow him on the sofa, but your partner lets them up when you’re not there, chances are Fido will not be the best-behaved dog.
Relax and Enjoy the Ride
Finally, this is the one that most people forget to do. Adopting a dog is one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever experience. Not only will having a dog in your life bring you comfort and joy (most of the time, anyway!), you are literally saving a canine life.
Plus, the happier and more relaxed you are, the happier and more relaxed Fido will be. Dogs are intuitive and pick up on our emotions. If you are stressed about things not going smoothly, it’ll take a lot longer for your pup to settle down.
Of course, there will be challenges and hardships along the way. And things might not go as smoothly as you first thought. But this is all part of the journey. Take photos and savor memories because they grow up fast! And trust us when we say the end goal is so worth it all!
By now, hopefully, you have a few things to think about before welcoming your new dog into your home. Adopting a dog is a life-changing event, and it comes with plenty of responsibility. But as long as you don’t rush into it and take the time to implement our tips, you should be set for an easier first few months in your journey of canine companionship. Just be ready for setbacks, but more than this, be ready for all the puppy love soon coming your way!