Adopting an adult dog from a rescue shelter is probably one of the very best ways to expand your family. Before bringing home your pooch, make sure you have everything ready! Read on for your complete adult rescue dog starter kit. In this article, we will:
- Give you a list of dog supplies to prepare beforehand
- Discuss the advantages of adopting an adult dog
- Explore possible issues and ways you can deal with them
Dog supplies you’ll need
First things first, your adult rescue dog starter kit should include the following:
- A dog crate
- Collar and leash
- Water and food bowls
- And a nice comfy blanket or doggie cushion
- Kibble and doggie treats
You should easily be able to find all of these things them in any pet supplies store. Now, let’s unwrap how you will use each of these items to integrate your adult dog into her new home.
Advantages of adopting an adult dog
Puppies are cute but the cuteness ends when you discover your favourite shoes chewed or you realise that playing with your new puppy leaves your hands shredded. All this at the same time you discover a nice little heap of steaming poop in the corner.
While adopting an adult dog is no walk in the park and has its own challenges, very often they’ve already developed their personalities and are easier to match with the perfect home. For example: Not all dogs are active. If you are looking for a dog to join you on your morning runs, it’s not always easy to guess the type of dog a puppy will grow up to be.
Adult dogs have their benefits plus there is that feeling of satisfaction you get when you give a dog the second chance that she may not have had otherwise.
Possible issues you’ll face
Food and transition
Dogs are great, they don’t ever complain about eating the same food every day, in fact, they prefer it. It’s good for their digestive tract and any changes can affect them negatively. For this reason it’s quite important to find out what food your new pet has been eating. Don’t be alarmed if it is not quite the same quality of food that your vet has recommended. In many shelters where they are forced to feed many mouths this may be the case. Simply continue with the old food, mixing it in with the new food, gradually phasing out the old food while introducing the new food.
Meeting the rest of the family
For families without any four legged babies, the first round of introductions with family members or flat mates would need to be gentle, taking care not to crowd your new dog’s immediate space as she enters your home. If you already have a dog or cat, or both—or more! then take care to cater to your current dogs and cats being very territorial. It usually takes some time for current pets to welcome home new pets. To avoid possible problems introduce your newly adopted dog to your other dogs in a neutral environment such as a park that you frequent. The cats will simply have to deal with your new four legged friend in the best way they know how. Here’s a handy post on how best to introduce your cat to a dog. (Good luck!)
It’s always a good idea to follow your rescue shelter’s rehoming recommendations for the animal you are interested in. Most adult dogs would have a profile listed along with other adoption info about vaccinations, socialisation, and more. Matching known behaviour and preferences to new homes is a key area for shelters looking to set up such adoptions for maximum success, so work with them to understand your lifestyle and space and how it caters to the different dogs in their care. Be careful not to take on more than you can handle, so that your new friend doesn’t need to be re-homed again.
Trust and anxiety
Dogs don’t land up in shelters by the most humane circumstances. It’s true that many shelter dogs have suffered at the hands of humans and will need to learn to trust again. The first few days are of utmost importance when it comes to gaining her trust again. Before getting started with anything else, read this post on how to prepare your home for its newest four legged baby.
1 Be consistent
During this first week your new dog will be watching you for cues much the same way as dogs in the wild look towards the leader to see how they manage or react to certain situations. Your dog will learn what to expect as you follow your routine. Stick to feeding times and at night make sure she knows where she will be sleeping. If she knows how to use a dog crate, make sure to let her use it so that she has her own safe space to retreat to. Or better yet, pull her bed out of your dog starter kit and set it in a quiet yet not isolated area.
2 Food as a source of trust
Food is a big deal with dogs and as the controller of resources you can use this to your advantage. This is where those doggie treats that you added to your dog starter kit right at the beginning come into play. (You can also make homemade dog treats!) Well timed treats will create a rapport and trust between the two of you that your new doggie has possibly not experienced from anyone else in her recent past. Since food is such an important resource to dogs, its power in building trust cannot be over emphasised.
3 Space and personality
Allow your newly adopted dog to come out of her shell in her own time and respond to her as she starts to approach you. During this time she is trying to figure out her place in the pack. When she does approach you reinforce this good behaviour when it is done appropriately with treats and attention.
4 Hunger strikes
Hunger strikes are not normally anything to be worried about but are important to be aware of. A couple of days without food are unlikely to have any effect on the newcomer. Head on down to the pet supplies store and see if you can coax her with another brand of food but if the hunger strike goes on for more than two or three days, it’s time to speak to your vet.
To be on the safe side…
During the adjustment phase it is best to keep your new adult rescue dog on a leash each time you go outside. This will help her get used to the boundaries of her space as well as prevent her from digging to escape during any anxiety attacks during the adjustment phase. Also by getting her used to using her dog crate at night you will help her ease into life with her new family in no time.
In case of more serious behavioural issues such as aggression towards kids, adults, or other dogs, it’s best to seek professional help as early as possible, and relentlessly and consistently follow all training routines and recommendations. You’ll find that switching off such problematic behaviour takes immense attention and care, and this is why people who choose to adopt adult rescue dogs with problem behaviours deserve all the love, patience, and support from their communities. Adopting a senior with issues is truly the heart and spirit of animal rescue, and we—as a community—owe all our understanding and comfort to those who choose to take on such a tremendous task.
Aside from this extra diligence, adopting an adult dog definitely has its advantages and by following these simple guidelines and preparing with an adult rescue dog starter kit right from the beginning you will set you and your new bestie hound up for a successful start.
Are you a first-time dog or cat pawrent? Find out how you can care for your pet by reading our pet parenting articles.