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6 Ways to Ensure a Successful Dog Adoption

Maggie Bonham, or Margaret H. Bonham, is a multiple award-winning pet author and expert. She has written more than 20 books on pets.

Your veterinarian will want to do a check up on your new pet.

Your veterinarian will want to do a check up on your new pet.

How to Help Your Adopted Dog Adjust

You've just adopted a dog. Congratulations! Your new addition is most likely going to be full of surprises. Before your new dog throws your household into chaos, you may wish to plan ahead and follow these tips for a successful adoption:

  1. Crate train your adopted dog.
  2. Keep your dog's crate in your bedroom.
  3. Introduce other dogs on neutral ground first.
  4. Exercise your adopted dog.
  5. Keep other pets away initially.
  6. Train your new dog.

What to Expect When Adopting From a Shelter or Rescue

  • If you're adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue, you should expect to pay a rehoming fee. Part of this fee has to do with caring for your dog plus getting the necessary vaccinations, chip implants, and neutering or spaying before your new dog comes home. Some of the funding goes toward taking care of other less fortunate pets who don't have a home yet. So not only have you saved a life, but you've also improved the lives of other homeless pets.
  • Many shelters and rescues will spay or neuter the dog before he/she goes home if the dog is old enough for the surgery. Some may provide vouchers for the surgery if the puppy is very young so that you can have your pet neutered when it is old enough.
  • Most shelters and rescues provide the basic vaccinations such as rabies and DA2PP (or DHPP) to ensure that your pet is vaccinated against deadly and contagious pathogens. You will have to keep up with your pet's vaccinations annually or as your pet's veterinarian recommends them. Even if your new pet has vaccinations and has been neutered, you should take them to your veterinarian for a full checkup to ensure they're healthy. Many veterinarians will offer these initial wellness checkups free if the dog has been adopted through a local shelter.
  • Lastly, the shelter or rescue may microchip your pet. This is to help your pet return home should they ever get lost. The microchip will have to be registered in the manufacturer's database for it to identify your dog, and you may have to pay a fee to register your pet.

1. Crate Train Your Adopted Dog

Many adopted dogs aren't house-trained, meaning that they're likely to have accidents or exhibit destructive behavior. Much of this has to do with your new dog's lack of training and the stress they've been through before arriving at your home. You may see psychological issues crop up such as separation anxiety, PTSD, and not being house-trained (aka housebroken).

You can end this by putting your new dog in a crate when you can't watch them. If your dog has never been crate trained, start by giving all food and treats in your dog's crate. You'll find your new addition more positive towards a crate if they're getting fed in it.

Crate training can help with house training if you put your new dog on a consistent schedule to go outside. They may also feel more secure having a crate to stay in when you're at work or school.

Your new dog will come to recognize his crate as his safe place.

Your new dog will come to recognize his crate as his safe place.

2. Keep Your Dog's Crate in Your Bedroom

One of the best ways to get a good night's sleep is to not to let your new dog be lonely at night. Have your adopted dog sleep in your bedroom. It will help reduce separation anxiety and will teach your new dog when it is time to sleep.

Keeping your new dog's crate in your bedroom will help them bond much faster with you. Even though you are sleeping at night, this gives your dog eight hours of positive time with you. Your dog will feel much more safe and secure when sleeping nearby you.


3. Introduce Other Dogs on Neutral Ground First

Throwing together the new dog with your current pets can be disastrous when you have them meet at your home. Instead, pick a place for your new dog to meet with your current dog. Introduce them one at a time on the leash. You may find that they will get along and even play with each other. When you finally get acceptance, bring them all home, preferably with the new dog crated, just in case.


4. Exercise Your Adopted Dog

Excitement and rowdiness may come from nervous energy. Spend time exercising your new dog as well as any of your other pets. Tired dogs are happy dogs and less prone to causing mischief. Exercise your adopted dog before going to bed helps convince your dog it is time to sleep and not play.


5. Keep Other Pets Away Initially

If you own a cat, give everyone the best chance to get along by not introducing them immediately. Instead, give your new dog the chance to get used to you, their surroundings, and even the idea that you have a cat. Keep your cat in another room with food, water, a scratcher, and a litterbox, and let your new dog get used to everything before adding the introduction of a cat. Give your new dog a few weeks without the cat, and allow the cat to "visit" when your new dog is in their crate, but don't start introductions until everything settles down.

Agility is one form of training that's great for active dogs.

Agility is one form of training that's great for active dogs.

6. Train Your New Dog

One of the best things you can do to ensure a successful adoption is to train your new dog. Shelter and rescue dogs often come with "features" that the previous owner found too difficult to handle. Those "features" might include separation anxiety, being overly hyper, barking too much, jumping up on people, destructive chewing, house soiling, and other undesirable behaviors. Training your new dog with a professional trainer skilled in positive reinforcement techniques will help you develop a bond between you and your pet. The professional trainer can often address problem behaviors that your dog may exhibit or may recommend a dog behaviorist for your dog. Either way, training will help you have a more manageable pet.

© 2014 MH Bonham