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MJ's Animal Blog

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

First Three Days of Your Dog’s Adoption

Photo Credit: Pixabay

           Adopting a dog is an extremely rewarding experience. Creating a lasting relationship will take time and patience. In fact, the first three days of adoption are important to build a bond with your dog to prevent the dog getting returned to the shelter. A 2013 study by the American Humane Association found that one in ten pets were no longer in the home six months later. By carefully planning and anticipating struggles you can prevent the likelihood that you have to make the heartbreaking decision to bring your dog back to the shelter.

Day 1:

           Critical to the first 24 hours is to reduce stress and avoid triggers. Your first hurdle may be to get your new dog into the car. Try a combination of treats and gentle leash pressure to lead to get your dog in the car – ideally a crate for safe travel. Travel straight home – avoiding pet stores or stopping by the neighbor to show off your new dog. Once you arrive home, take him outside on the leash to show him where you want him to go potty and take him for a long walk. In your home, show him where safe places are including the crate and where the dog is allowed in the house. Leave the crate door open so he can come and go as he likes.
           It is best to set boundaries. You are establishing your role as the alpha leader. Do not let him have free reign over your house. Begin training immediately, even small things like having him wait for permission to go through a door outside. Teach proper leash handling, correcting behavior when your dog pulls on the leash. You can give treats for positive reinforcement.
           Plan for a very uneventful day without guests. Watch your dog and allow him to come to you when he is ready. If you have children, teach them to give the dog space and not to hang on the dog, hug him, or put their face next to the dog’s face. Because you don’t know the complete history of your dog, too much interaction in the dog’s space could seem as a threat to their territory. Take your dog out frequently for training breaks.
           If you already have pets in the home, you will have to decide whether to introduce them on the first day. Some trainers and shelters recommend separating them for at least 24 hours to lessen the stress and to avoid conflict.
           Feed your dog the same food he or she was getting in the shelter to reduce the risk of stomach aches. Encourage him to drink water even if he doesn’t want to eat.
           Call your veterinarian to set up a time to check over your new pet, if you haven’t done it yet. The veterinarian should look over any health records and make recommendations as necessary.
           For the first night, try to have your dog sleep in his crate. You may keep the crate close to you – such as a bathroom – but do not have him sleep in your bed. If he whines and cries, reassure him with touch and talk telling him that he is okay. Don’t let him out of the crate unless you have to take him to the bathroom.
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Day 2:

           Your dog is continuing to decompress. The decompression stage may last a couple of days, weeks, or even a months. He may explore the house more or may continue to hide. Both are normal. Freedom in your home should stay to a minimum. Show you are in control, and you will protect and provide for him. This will help to prevent unwanted behaviors and domination.
           Be prepared for your dog to be reluctant to new situations. He may have never gone done stairs, been on a walk, or even watched television. Remain positive, calm, and reassuring. And just as you would do if you fell off your bike, try experiencing those things again to show him he can trust you and he doesn’t have to be fearful.
           Introduce your dog to your other pets today. Meeting outside can be less stressful for both pets because it is more of a neutral area. You may walk them together or try some games.

Day 3-7:

           The first three days of adoption are extremely overwhelming for your dog, and he may act out and exhibit uncharacteristic behaviors. Until he is comfortable, it will be difficult for him to let his guard down to relax.
           Time to secure the routine. Make a schedule and stick to it with when you will walk or exercise your dog and feed him. Slowly add additional activities and introduce him to friends or other family members. Offer grace if he has potty training accidents because this could take days, weeks, or even months to achieve.
           Continue to be the alpha leader. It’s easy to feel sorry for your dog because he has been in a shelter and maybe some difficult situations prior to that. However, any poor manners you will want to correct.
           Enjoy learning more and more about your dog and bonding with him.
           In addition to the first week of creating a home for your adopted dog, Drs. London and McConnell,outlined timing for new dogs with a three days, three weeks, three months of transition. The first three days is described as the “detox period” as your dog gets used to the new stimulating activities and freedoms the shelter could not provide. The quietness of your home may be completely opposite of the loud, bustling shelter. After three weeks, your dog should know your routine and should know when you will come and go. By three months, your dog will understand they are “home.” Throughout these three months, be consistent with your training plan, routines, and bonding.  
           Adopting a dog takes a lot of patience and understanding. It is also one of the most rewarding experiences to see the future and potential of your new pet.

Michael John Kulick
My goal with this venture is to give these pets a fighting chance in finding a good home for them and to let people know about the health benefits that come with owning a pet. I believe that every is unique and that each dog can cater to different people.

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