A woman bending down to hug her dog around the neck.

10 Tips for a Successful Dog Adoption

Those friendly eyes. And don’t even get us started on that wagging tail. How many of us have fallen for a shelter dog? Adopting from a shelter is a great way to tackle dog overpopulation, offer a caring home to a pup who really needs one, and add a lovable new member to your family. There are some things you can do to make the transition as smooth as possible for the both of you.

1. Choose the right dog for your family.

Don’t always go for the first dog you feel drawn to. Research breeds to see which one’s level of care is right for your family. You should also visit the dog to find out how they get along with other pets and/or children.

2. Have everything you need before you get home to avoid unnecessary trips.

Make sure you have a harness or collar, leash, food and water dishes, a bed, and a kennel (crate training is a great way to keep your pet safe and secure). This can allow you to focus on your dog post-adoption.

3. Put an exercise plan into place immediately.

Dog owners often surrender their pets because they cannot give them adequate exercise, which may lead to behavior problems. Have a realistic exercise plan in place that gets your pup plenty of physical and mental stimulation. You may need to factor a dog walker into your pet care costs.

4. Transition your pup’s food slowly.

Digestive issues can make a time of change even more difficult on your dog. Find out what food the shelter fed your dog. Start by mixing a little bit of your dog’s new food, like Diamond Naturals Adult Dog Lamb Meal & Rice Formula, into the shelter’s food. Over the period of about a week, slowly increase the amount of new food you add to your dog’s mix while decreasing the amount of the current food. By the end of the seven-day transition period, your dog should be comfortable with their new food.

5. Give your dog a safe space.

Usually a kennel, sometimes a dog bed or a room, all dogs need a place where they know they can get some time alone. This space should always be treated with positivity. If they are punished in their safe space, well, it doesn’t seem like such a great place to relax anymore, does it? Creating this haven gives your dog a place to alleviate their anxiety or, at the very least, a simple place to call their own.

6. Speaking of space: Give your dog enough room to adjust.

Cuddling, petting and walking are great. But there may be times that your dog just wants to be alone. Letting the dog come to you in the first couple of weeks will build trust, even though it may seem counterintuitive.

7. Get into training ASAP.

Training can make even the most rambunctious dog into a great family dog. Check out nearby training courses and choose one that fits your style and needs.

8. Only discipline during the bad act.

Dogs don’t have memories, and they can’t put two and two together. If you come home and find your dog has had an accident in the house, bringing them to the accident and yelling is just confusing and scary. You must catch them while they are actually peeing. When this happens, a short “No” will stop it. Bring them outside to continue. When they pee in the correct place, praise them.

9. Avoid overwhelming your dog with new places and new people.

You may want to show off your dog after you bring them home. However, for your pet’s comfort, minimize their exposure to new people and places until they are well adjusted to you and your family.

10. Set clear boundaries.

Decide on boundaries and enforce them right away. If your dog can’t go on the couch or sleep in your bed, don’t let them get away with it just because they are new to the house.

With these tips, you can make your new dog’s adjustment easy and you’ll feel like you just might be a dog whisperer after all.

The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.


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