Adopting a dog can be both an exciting and rewarding experience that will create a new friend and family member in your life. Shelter dogs have unique and loving personalities that will grow and become a part of your life for 10+ years. If it is your first time adopting a shelter puppy or dog, consider some of the following points of what to expect.
Health and first steps: Shelter dogs are often found abandoned on the streets or in the wild. Because of this, sometimes they were improperly fed and may have gone without food for days. This can cause some territorial personality traits where your puppy or dog may be protective of food. Don’t worry though, with time and patience dogs can be trained to be trusting in the fact that they will be fed and taken care of by their new and loving owner.
Separation anxiety: Since many shelter dogs had a previous owner or were found in the wild, they are prone to separation anxiety. If you must leave them for work or other responsibilities, they are likely to get anxious and fearful based on their experiences as a puppy of being abandoned. Be prepared to deal with a little bit of whining and restlessness but stay confident that over time with training the dog can learn to trust that his or her new home is here to stay.
One tip that I find particularly useful is to slowly get them used to the idea that good things happen while you are away, by practicing leaving a Kong ball filled with treats as you leave the house for a short period of time (30 minutes or so). This will not only distract your pup, but instill in them that nothing bad will happen while you are gone.
The shelter is a great resource: As you learn to take care and provide for a shelter dog, the shelter itself can be a great resource with connections to reputable vets, pet supplies, dog food, and sometimes even training lessons. The shelter also has many common shots and vaccines for sale at discounted rates compared to vets and pet stores. Many shelters will also expect you to complete a list of several steps like vaccines and checkups over a 120 day period as a condition of the adoption.
Socialization: Depending on the shelter you adopted your dog from; your dog may need healthy socializing after dealing with a variety of different dog breeds and personalities; the younger that you can socialize your dog and get him or her accustomed to the company of other dogs the better.
Time commitment: Adopting a dog is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Having a pet can be very rewarding but requires a significant time commitment to keep the dog healthy, happy, and behaving appropriately. Dogs need to be walked or ran daily if possible to exhaust their energy which in turn contributes to their behavior and happiness.
Adopting a shelter dog is a challenge that will pay off time and time again with the company and love that you receive from your wonderful pet and friend. As long as you stay patient and exercise your dog both mentally and physically, your dog will grow up to be a wonderful member of the family.
Rob Toledo loves anything and everything dog, recommends considering pet insurance, and urges you to adopt your next furry companion from a local shelter. He one day hopes to have a yard big enough for at least 10 dog of varying breeds.