So you want to adopt a dog, or you’ve already adopted a dog – congratulations! Whether you’ve rescued them from a shelter or adopted a dog from a reputable breeder, you have so much to look forward to with your new best friend by your side.
You might be feeling a bit overwhelmed in the first few days, and even weeks, after bringing home your pup. That’s totally normal! It’s important to remember that this is a big transition for your dog, and you and your family.
Here are some things you can do to make your new dog’s homecoming process as smooth as possible.
Research the breed
Understand the breed you’re adopting and what that commitment means. Will your dog need regular grooming appointments, are they high energy, do they have common health issues, require certain levels of activity, or need a special diet? Make sure you can accommodate any needs your dog will have before bringing them home.
Here are some things you’ll need: a collar, a name tag, leash, and harness. For training, we recommend our Martingale collars. All of our collars at dogIDs come Embroidered, with ScruffTags or nameplates which are built-in to the collar, meaning your dog’s ID will never get lost, and you can say goodbye to that noisy jingling sound.
Some other essentials are food and water bowls, a crate, a dog bed, treats, and toys to keep them busy.
Slowly transition dog food
If you plan to change your dog’s food when they come home, do so slowly! Their bodies are used to the food they’ve been given previously, so to avoid any upset tummies, slowly mix increasing ratios of their new food with their current food.
Prepare your home
When you adopt a dog, make sure your home is free of anything that could harm your dog, especially while they’re exploring and adjusting to their new surroundings.
Make their crate their safe space – dogs naturally feel safest in a den-like environment. Set up their crate with a dog bed and toys and make sure they know their crate is always available to them when they want to retreat. To keep positive associations with their crate, you can give high-value treats whenever they go in, and make sure to never use it as a punishment.
Make a first vet appointment
Make sure to schedule a vet exam in the first few weeks after adoption. You’ll want to have your dog thoroughly checked out by a veterinarian to provide needed vaccinations and treat any health issues. If you don’t already have a veterinarian picked out, you can ask the shelter or breeder for their recommendations.
There is so much to adjust to for both you and your new pup. Consider following the 3 C’s for a smooth transition: Comfort, Care, and Consistency.
- Comfort – during the first three days after bringing home your new dog, focus on making them feel as comfortable as possible. This is the time when you should establish a calm environment and slowly let them adjust to their new surroundings. Ways to establish comfort:
- Set up a safe space just for them. This can be the crate you’ve put together. Make sure they have open access to it
- Limit new people and animal interactions. Avoid having guests over during this time period, and wait until they have become comfortable with you to introduce to any friend’s or family’s pets.
- Care – show your pet you care by taking time to bond. This can include quality time like beginning training, or just cuddles on the couch. You can start establishing boundaries you want to set (e.g. no counter surfing or jumping up, any limitations on furniture, rooms that are off-limits)
- Consistency – dogs crave routine, and they’ll pick up on one you set very quickly. Stick to normal feeding times, walks outside and play, and a consistent night routine. Try leaving them alone for increasing periods of time to avoid separation anxiety.