Now that you have gone through part one and part two of the adoption process, you are ready to welcome the animal home. As exciting as it is, it can also be very overwhelming for you (and others who live with you) and the animal. What should you expect in the first month?
Many people believe that when they bring a new animal home, everything will be perfect. The animal will want to cuddle you and be best friends with other animals in the house right away. I hate to break this to you, but that most likely will not be the case. The first day and even week is going to most likely be the most stressful for you and the animal. It’s a new situation for both of you and it’s a brand new environment for the animal. It will take time for the animal to settle in and figure things out.
Get into a routine with the animal.
Like kids (yes, parents I know it’s different than actually raising kids), getting into a consistent routine will help the animal settle. Try feeding and walking the animal at the same time every day. If you are using a crate (especially at night or when you leave the house), it’s also good to get into a routine with that (ie. letting the dog out before they go in the crate and then giving them a treat for going in). For us, we give Dolly her medication after her morning walk around the same time every day, walk her in the afternoon, and feed her in the evening at roughly the same times.
Realize that Seperation Anxiety may happen.
Separation anxiety is very common in a lot of dogs (and can happen in cats as well). Every dog we have had, has had some level of separation anxiety. It can can be anything from peeing and pooping on the floor (which Max did when we first got him and Freckles still does if she doesn’t go in her crate) to barking to destroying things like furniture. It can be mild to severe. There are many resources out there on how to deal with separation anxiety but understand that the animal does not do things maliciously so yelling and hitting your animal is not the way to deal with it.
The animal may very shy and hide until they are comfortable.
Most people believe that the day they bring the animal home, they will be sitting on the couch watching Netflix with them that night. That may be the case with some (we lucked out with Max and Freckles as they did want to cuddle with us on the couch on the first night), not every animal will.
It took Dolly two days of hiding under the desk in our office before she would come out on her own. And when did come out, as soon as Max or Freckles barked, she would run back into the office and hide under the desk. For the first day, she shook in fear. I’ll be honest in saying that I was worried as I wasn’t sure if she would ever feel comfortable here. I talked to her foster mom and she said I needed to give her time. When she’s ready, she would come out on her own. And she did.
The animal may want to run if they get the chance.
Do not be surprised if your dog wants to take off, especially if they are scared. The first week has the highest chance of your animal taking taking off. I know for us, Max gave us a real scare when he took off within the first month. I don’t think I have ever been that panicked in my life. Thankfully, we had gone for enough walks around the neighbourhood that he knew where our house was and came back as we found him by our back gate. Others I know have not been as lucky.
It’s really is amazing how some animals will slip out of their collars and leashes. What’s recommended is that the dog wear a harness and have two leashes attached so that if one leash slips (because it can happen), you still have the other leash. Harnesses I find work better as it’s harder for dogs to slip out of them and if your dog pulls, it won’t choke them (plus, I find it easier to control them while walking).
Establish rules and boundaries right away.
Along with developing a routine, you need to establish rules and boundaries right away (especially if you have a puppy). Don’t want the dog on the bed or the couch? Then don’t allow to jump up and lay down. Don’t want the cat on the kitchen counter? Then don’t allow them to walk up there. If you let your animal do whatever they want, they will. And when they get into bad habits, it can be very tough to break those habits.
If you have other animals in the house, they may not be best friends right away.
I can speak from experience that all of my animals all ignored each other for extended periods of time before they finally acknowledged (let alone played with) one another. While some animals may get along great right away, that is not always the case. When we got Max, he and Bandit ignored each other for a long time. No dog was more dominant than the other for a while (until Max decided he was alpha). It was close to a year before they started to play with one another (in other words, play tug of war with a toy). When we got Freckles, she wanted to be with Max but he couldn’t have cared less (and still kid of doesn’t). He tolerates her. However they now will share the pet pillow in front of the fireplace together.
As I stated above, it took Dolly a while to even feel comfortable and safe with Dean and I. Both Dolly and Freckles seem to be dogs that love being around other dogs. They are now insperable and Freckles loves to lick Dolly’s face and Dolly loves it (so much so that Dolly will shove her face into Freckles just so Freckles will lick her). Her and Max get along, but he mostly just ignores her (unless she has food).
If you are adopting a puppy, you need to train them.
This part should be a no brainer but, I have seen cases (one recently) where someone wanted to return a puppy because they expected that puppy to act like a grown dog. That’s like expecting a toddler to act like a 18 year old.
Puppies need structure and training (like creating a routine). You can NOT expect that a puppy won’t chew (especially if you leave things like shoes lying on the floor). You need to teach a puppy how to behave and that is YOUR responsibility as soon as the dog is yours. Not sure where to start? Find a puppy training class (if you live in a city, they are everywhere).
Don’t want to train a puppy? Then don’t get one. Adopt an older dog. If you are smart, you would have already decided this in part one.
At the end of the day, I just want people to be educated and to THINK. As someone who volunteers for two animal rescues and follows many on social media, it’s frustrating to see people who clearly do not think things through when wanting to adopt an animal. I just hope that these last three posts will help you or anyone you know about making an informed decision when it comes to animal adoption.
The goal of any rescue is to find the forever home for animals. If you truly care about animals, you will want that as well.