Congratulations! You’ve completed all the steps necessary when considering pet adoption (see Ten Tips to Consider When Adopting Your New Best Friend). Now that you’ve made the wonderful decision to give a shelter dog their forever home, there are a few last minute things to know before you bring your new best friend home.
Before You Leave Home: Stock Up & Dog-Proof
Make sure your home is ready for your new best friend. Have food, a leash, collar, crate or gates, bed, bowls, treats, toys…it seems like a lot, but you can have tons of fun preparing for your new family member! Consider a trip to the pet store with your new bestie to find a special treat to welcome him home.
Also, look around and remove anything hazardous or valuable that your new dog could chew. Some plants could be poisonous to dogs, so check if any of yours should be moved. (Check out https://www.petmd.com/dog/slideshows/emergency/poisonous-plants-to-dogs.) New environments can make a dog nosy, so make sure to pick up kid’s toys, small items and food to keep your pup safe.
Yep, it’s unavoidable; even adopting a dog comes with paperwork. Bring your driver’s license or other government ID to fill out your application and be prepared to pay a possible adoption fee. And if you decide to hold off on adoption, donations are of course gratefully accepted.
The Trip Home
Your new pup is bound to feel anxious, unsure and even scared leaving the shelter. Some dogs do well in cars, others are more unsure. If you’re driving, try to have two people so one of you can help keep an eye on your dog. Don’t forget to bring towels in case your dog gets sick. Consider a harness seatbelt, crate or other safety harness to keep your dog secure in your vehicle.
A Gentle Welcome
As excited as you are to introduce your new furbaby to the world, limit visitors for the first few days. Your dog needs time to get comfortable with his new space, and with the people who live there. Consider waiting to introduce your pup to other dogs in the area so your dog can get adjusted to their new life and ensure their shots are up-to-date.
Let him sniff around, and learn the designated potty spot. Reward your new bestie with a treat for going there. For the first few days it’s a good idea to take your dog outside often. Even if he was potty trained in her previous home, your pup needs a little time to learn your house rules.
Meet the Family
While you’re still outside, introduce her to family members, one at a time. Let each person offer a treat, to make a good first impression!
Bring your dog into the house on a leash and give him a tour, keeping the mood relaxed. If your dog starts to chew or grab at objects, redirect with a firm “leave it” and offer an appropriate chew toy.
Be a Homebody
For the beginning period, stay close to home. You need to learn how the dog will respond to different types of stimuli before exploring more unfamiliar territory. Establish a walk and play routine, which will help you bond with each other.
Training – for Both of You
Find a class or trainer whom you trust. You both need to understand each other and build a trusting bond. Being able to communicate effectively allows you to recognize his behaviors and he’ll always know what you expect and acceptable behaviors. All he wants to do is please you!
Feel the Love
Above all, be patient. Give your new dog time and space to adjust and establish a routine you’re both comfortable with. In no time you’ll have the bond you dreamed of, and a new best friend for life. Again, congratulations on your new family member. Thank you for saving a life!