You may have noticed that the Humane Society of Hamilton County is overflowing with dogs and cats. They need help and you may very well need a pet. I think it is very important to check with rescues if you want a specific breed, and the Humane Society for other dogs or cats. Sometimes they even have birds.
Here’s how to make your new dog’s adoption work for life. Adopting a new dog is exciting, wonderful and a happy time. But bringing a new dog home is also an uncertain time. What will your dog be like? Will he be a good match for your family? Will he be everything you hoped for?
Bringing a new dog into the home can also be a rather shocking time for you and your family. Suddenly your life will be compounded by the energy and needs of the new family member. What can you do to ensure that you and your new dog will settle into a long happy life together?
Have realistic expectations and be prepared. I have had extremely good luck with my two rescues. Both Isabelle and Karma have been well behaved, house broken and lead trained. Some of that is just pure luck.
I had Isabelle for four years before we opened the store, so I was somewhat sure of how she would react to being in this environment. Karma was another story. She was very timid at first, but now she has really come out of her shell. I hope I was prepared for any issues. If a dog is going to be returned following an adoption, it is often in the first three weeks – usually because behavior issues come up that people aren’t prepared for and don’t know how to deal with. Having realistic expectations can help you get through the adjustment period with minimal stress and the most success.
What will the adjustment period be like? How long will it last? It depends on the dog, on you and on your environment.
Every dog is different. I like to tell people that it takes time to pick the right dog. Don’t make snap decisions. Rescue dogs come from all kinds of situations, so one never knows for sure how they will react. The Sheltie rescue where I volunteer makes a home visit before an adoption. We have a list of questions we ask prospective owners. Our foster care givers can check the dogs out before hand to see if the dogs are good with children and identify any other problems before we release the dog.
Some of the more obvious things to watch for are: pacing and other overactive behavior, attaching to one person in the family but being very shy of others, mouthing people, jumping up on them, barking and chewing, and trying to escape or hiding.
What You Can Do
Take your time. Don’t be in a rush to get a dog; wait for just the right one
Don’t overeagerly drag your new dog all over town and to the dog park. Let him settle in at your home for a few weeks and get to know each other. If possible, maintain a low level of stress and activity in your home for the first few weeks.