6 Tips to Ensure a Smooth Experience When Adopting a Shelter Dog Giving a shelter dog the love and care it deserves

6 Tips to Ensure a Smooth Experience When Adopting a Shelter Dog

Adopting a shelter dog brings a completely different set of challenges because these animals have disturbed histories and trust issues. Awareness and preparation can help you ensure a smooth transition for yourself and your new canine companion.

Pet parenting is a lifelong commitment to tending to the physical and emotional needs of your furry companion. However, the level of commitment varies according to the type, breed, and specific needs and situations of the pet. For example, there’s a difference between buying a puppy from a breeder and bringing home a shelter dog.

According to an article published in Fox2, countless dogs in American animal shelter homes are waiting to be adopted. Sadly, many have been doing it for years. Sid, a 5-year-old pit bull mix, is one of them, waiting for a permanent home and family for 1300 days. Surprisingly, Sid is well-behaved, friendly, and smart, as reported by Warren’s I Heart Dogs Rescue and Animal Haven.

Statistics show that 3.3 million dogs enter animal shelters in the US every year. That means millions of them are waiting for pet parents wanting to adopt them. However, prospective owners have valid apprehensions about bringing such animals home because their history makes them susceptible to behavioral issues and health problems. 

In this article, we will share a few tried and tested tips to ensure a smooth ride for you and your newly adopted dog as you bring it home from a shelter.

Be Mentally Ready

Nöelle Lucasson talks about her first experience with a rescue dog. He had severe emotional problems and hated being alone. He also destroyed stuff and scared a neighbor due to constant barking. Nöelle decided to eventually give up the dog because of its destructive traits. This narrative highlights the significance of choosing the right pet and being ready for the challenges one may face. 

Shelter dogs often have a history of experiencing neglect, trauma, or abandonment, leading to behavioral issues. A survey revealed that they showed a high prevalence of nonsocial fear (95.8%), separation-related behaviors (92.6%), stranger-directed aggression (81.7%), dog-directed fear (80.0%), dog-directed aggression (75%), stranger-directed fear (58.2%), familiar dog aggression (37.8%), and owner-directed aggression (32.3%) at various time points. 

Knowing the implications of raising your new furry friend gives you a head start, regardless of the challenges you may face after the initial adoption process. Your dog’s behavior may vary in different circumstances. You will need a lot of patience and understanding to help your pet adjust and thrive in the new environment.

Medications and supplements can help your new pet stay calm and relaxed during the transition. NaturVet Quiet Moments Calming Aid Plus Melatonin Soft Chews are ideal for relieving pet anxiety in an unfamiliar environment. Your dog feels comfortable during the initial phase as it enjoys these palatable chews. The best thing is that the natural ingredients in this product do not have side effects. 

Create a Safe and Comfortable Space

Loud noises and unfamiliar places can be anxiety triggers for shelter dogs. Research suggests that even household sounds can cause stress in a dog coming from a rescue shelter.  New smells can be equally disturbing. Creating a safe space is about ensuring no loud music, phone conversations, or kitchen sounds during the early days of your canine companion in its new home.

Remember that the home environment may be far different from the one your pet was familiar with in the rescue shelter. Make it as comfortable as possible with a secluded spot, cozy bedding, and soft toys. Gradually, after the first few days, start approaching your pet and introducing it to your family members. 

Establish a Routine

When a dog moves to a forever home from a shelter, it experiences a complete transition of lifestyle. Since dogs thrive on consistency, they need a daily routine to stay happy and healthy after the drastic change. Set regular mealtimes, take them on daily walks, and find time to play with your new pet. Stick to this schedule to help your pet adjust to its new life. 

You can also set a specific zone for feeding, playing, and resting. Ensure that your family members are always around so that the dog does not experience separation anxiety. At the same time, avoid getting too cuddly during the early phase, and ensure that your pet gets enough time to break the ice. This is important if you have kids and other pets in your family. 

Practice Positive Reinforcement

A 2022 study showed that positive reinforcement training in animal shelters reduces inter-dog aggression and reactivity. Adopt the same mindset while training your dog once you bring it home from a shelter. Positive reinforcement encourages it to repeat good behavior and strengthens your bond with it over time.

However, while rewarding your new pet with treats, ensure that you do not overfeed. Going over the top may make your canine companion overweight. Old Mother Hubbard Bitz Crunchy Assorted Treats are low-calorie treats your pet will enjoy without putting on weight. A mix of flavors like liver, chicken, and vegetables makes it a palatable treat for dogs struggling to gain comfort in new settings. 

Besides reinforcing good behavior, plan a strategy to deal with bad behavior. Many rescue dogs come with bad habits and quirks, but punishment is not the right way to address indiscipline. Use affection and motivation to tame your pet. Also, consider professional training and behavioral intervention if things do not seem to improve. 

Buy Necessary Supplies

Before bringing a shelter dog to your place, ensure you have the supplies and equipment it may need. Start with a high-quality canine diet according to the breed, size, health condition, and age of your new pet. You can opt for an all-life-stages product like Diamond Naturals Beef Dinner All Life Stages Canned Dog Food or pick a need-specific one.

Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Chicken and Rice Canned Dog Food is ideal for puppies as it offers great taste with complete and balanced nutrition. Additionally, it promotes lean body mass for ideal weight. The product also keeps your pet’s coat healthy by offering a rich supply of omega fatty acids. You can explore diet food according to your vet’s recommendations. 

Avoid feeding your pet from your plate, no matter how much you want to show your love. Buy a food bowl, grooming supplies, and toys appropriate for the size of your new pet. The first few weeks will be easy if you have everything at hand. 

Socialize Slowly

According to a study, extreme life histories of shelter dogs are linked with high cortisol levels and altered social behavior. These dogs experience more fear during social interactions with unfamiliar people. Transitioning from a shelter to a home with multiple family members can be challenging for these animals. Interacting outside with other human beings and animals may be even tougher. 

Velma Kelly, who has worked for two decades as a pet rescuer, notes that cats and dogs are utterly distraught when left by their owners. Many fail to trust people again, and some go through anxiety and depression. Social bonding is not easy for animals after such bad experiences. That’s something you should understand when adopting a shelter dog. It may need time and love to regain trust in humans.

The best piece of advice is to socialize your new pet gradually. Introduce it to new people (visitors and outsiders) and other dogs in controlled environments. Observe their reactions first and proceed at a pace they are comfortable with. If you want to enroll your pet in obedience classes, wait for a few weeks until it adapts to your home and trusts your family members. 

In conclusion, the transition from an animal shelter to a forever home can be a long and challenging process for dogs and dog parents. You may struggle to make your pet comfortable in the new environment, while it may feel overwhelmed and uneasy. Following these simple measures can ease the transition and ensure a healthy bond between pets and families, regardless of the shelter dog’s history. 

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