Home > Pet Adoption, Pet Safety > Bringing home your newly adopted or rescued dog.

Bringing home your newly adopted or rescued dog.


My brother and sister-in-law just adopted a dog from a rescue. Dozer is adorable and a bit shy, so I wanted to send them something to help them along in the first few days of their new life with Dozer.

What I discovered is that there are a lot of great posts on the internet about the things you need to buy to get ready for bringing home a new pet, but for some reason most of them focus on the “things” you need (i.e., food, food bowls, crates, etc.) and not on the most important part – what TO DO and what NOT TO DO when you bring home a newly adopted or rescued dog.

I finally found one that had some of the advice I was looking for here.

Among the things it lists are:

1. Limit the space your new pet has access to (in your home).

2. Limit the amount of people visiting the animal or your home.

3. Always supervise your pets to make sure they are getting along.

4. Do exercise activities daily!

I wanted to add onto this list with a few extra thoughts:

5. If you can, wait until the weekend to bring your new dog home – It can be a bit overwhelming for a dog to come into a new environment. It makes it a little easier to adjust when they have someone there who can show them the house, get them into a routine and help them to bond.

6. NO DOG PARKS or VISITS TO THE PET STORE – I cannot tell you how many times I have a seen a dog (that was adopted from our shelter) at the dog park or a pet store only a few hours after being adopted. It is extremely overwhelming for a dog to be placed into a new home with people they don’t know (and no, hanging out with them for a few hours at the shlter does not mean they know you). Taking them to a dog park or the pet store is like throwing them into the deep end of a pool if they don’t know how to swim. Buy your pet supplies ahead of time and stay closer to home when you get your new dog. Trust me. It will pay off in the long run.

7. Never leave your new dog along with kids- This is especially true for families who have no children, but maybe have nieces or nephews who stop over. Kids are generally overwhelming to dogs anyways. They’re erratic. They run, they stumble, they change directions suddenly, they can be loud, and they can be scary to new dogs, especially if they haven’t had previous exposure to kids. Keeping the environment low-key is so important in the first few days. Wait to introduce kids to your new dog (unless they are your own). When you do introduce them, make sure they (kids) know not to run at or away from the dog, not stare the dog in the eyes, and if they do give the dog a treat, it should be on an open palm. Also, consider doing it in the yard or neutral location.

I welcome other recommendations from my trainer, rescue and shelter friends, but these are just a few of the important ones I wanted to share.

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  1. March 6, 2011 at 7:27 AM

    We were just in Petsmart last weekend and I think we saw at least ten new puppies. I think people get overly excited and want to take their new furry family members everywhere they go.

    Although, I say this and we probably did the same thing with Gus. He is our first dog and we’ve learned so many things to do and not to do when we decide to add another to our mix.

    Great post!

    • Mel
      March 7, 2011 at 5:42 AM

      Gus – Thank you so much for your comments. I’ve learned a lot with every dog I have adopted. I am still a work in progress. :)
      Regarding the pet store: I have seen similar situations. People are so eager to show off their dogs that they forget that what may be exciting for them may not be so exciting for the dog or puppy. It’s already so overwhelming for them to be with new people and in a new environment. Adding a trip to the store can be quite a bit more than they can handle. I still remember the story of a dog that was adopted from our shelter by a family who then immediately brought the dog to a pet store. The dog bit someone (I think a child) and as a result, the dog was returned. I don’t recall if that one situation ended his life, but I hope not.

  2. March 6, 2011 at 9:39 AM

    I want to add a caveat to the “no children” bit. I think it depends on the dog, and the kids! If your children are educated about dog behaviour, and are ready to behave appropriately themselves, I don’t see the problem. We started fostering dogs because we had kids who were dying for a pet, but I wasn’t ready for the permanent committment. The rescue organization we worked with only sent us child-friendly dogs, and overall they were great experiences for our kids (and the dogs!). The second foster, in fact, spent her first night going from room to room and cuddling with each girl, finally curling up with our middle child. The dog we now own started as a foster, but it immediately apparent that he is inherently protective of children, which is one reason we kept him.

    If you have a child who doesn’t know how to treat animals, or is afraid of them, by all means, don’t foster dogs! You’re not doing the children or the dogs any favours!

    • Mel
      March 7, 2011 at 5:38 AM

      Lori – Great points! I was trying to get something out fast and knew I had missed a lot on the kids section. I think it depends on the dog and his/her experience with the dog, but it also depends on the kids. I think knowing the dog’s background and teaching kids how to behave with a dog is so key. Thank you so very much for adding some really great thoughts and insights!

  3. March 6, 2011 at 2:35 PM

    These are great tips. We don’t know much about the background of a rescue or shelter dog and the first couple of days are best spend with as few new things possible. Even if it is a balanced dog, the whole situation is very stressful for them. Understandable people are excited, but it is important not to set them up to fail.

    If I could add something to the list, it is to wait with the first vet visit until after the first week. Also, when you have dogs already, not to hand out toys when they are together and feed them seperatly. Just in case one of them has a resource guarding issue.

    • Mel
      March 7, 2011 at 5:35 AM

      Thanks for adding some great insight and advice Leo. I think that’s an excellent idea to wait on the vet visit AND the advice on toys and resource guarding is excellent!

  4. Kristine
    March 6, 2011 at 10:18 PM

    Great advice! I read a LOT of books before we brought Shiva home full of tips to make the transition a huge success. But a lot of the advice was overly-complicated. Me, being such a rule-follower, I took a lot of it to heart and was panicked if I forgot a minor step. It made the first few weeks rather stressful. So I really like that you have kept it so simple.

    I will add, we brought our dog home from the shelter on a Wednesday evening, when we both had to work the next two days. We were both just so eager to have her with us and I didn’t want her to spend another night there if she didn’t have to. But perhaps it would have been a good idea to wait, especially since she surprised the both of us with her separation anxiety. Live and learn, right?

    • Mel
      March 7, 2011 at 5:34 AM

      Kristine – Thanks so much for sharing your own experience. I think that’s what makes it so hard for new dog owners. There’s so much information out there!
      BTW – That’s how we all do it Kristine. Learn as we go.

  5. March 7, 2011 at 6:20 AM

    Very good and simple list. When we brought our last dog, Shadow, home from the SPCA we confined her to the kitchen. It didn’t take long for us to realize that she was absolutely trustworthy throughout the house. But it was worth it to know she would be safe when we left her at home.

  6. March 8, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    I think your added on points should be 1,2 and 3.

    Can I share a story? I’ll try to keep it short :p

    When we first got Jordan from the pound, he was very skinny, with wasted muscles and a lillipop head. On the way home, we HAD to make a stop at Petbarn because, of course, we hadn’t organised anything. I went in, The Other Half waited outside with Jordan. A lady came by, took one look at poor Jordan and started to scold The Other Half for treating his dog so badly. The poor man was too taken aback to explain. I don’t know if Jordan was overwhelmed. the Other Half certainly was!

    • Mel
      March 9, 2011 at 4:27 AM

      LOL! That’s hilarious. Poor guy! At least someone cared enough to say something huh?

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