In my time volunteering at Last Chance Ranch animal rescue, I have seen many animals get adopted. I have also seen many of those animals gets returned, particularly dogs. Dogs get returned for a variety of reason, but I feel most of these reason can be avoided by the new adoptive parents.
- Give your new best friend time.
Dogs take time to adjust to their new environment, family, and fellow animals. It can take several weeks for a dog to feel completely comfortable and even longer if that dog has been abused or abandoned in the past. Many new or unexperienced dog parents will return a dog to the shelter if they seem scared or uncomfortable. If the dog doesn’t seem to immediately adapt to its new home or immediately become friends with an existing dog in the home. But if you allow enough time for your dog to truly adjust, you may find the dog will open up and become more playful, happy, and affectionate.
2. Avoid creating competition among the new dog and existing pets in the home.
Do not feed your newly adopted dog next to your existing dog until both dogs have been given the proper amount of time to adjust to each other. This can cause fights. Often dogs will be returned because of a fight that could have easily been avoided. You must continue to comfort and reassure your current pets. They can easily feel jealous of a new pet and become defensive, aggressive, or territorial. It is also important to separate the pets while they are not supervised, until they adjust to living with each other. Dogs may not immediately become friends because it is overwhelming to be in a new place with a new routine and new people, but they will often develop a bond if given the chance.
3. Supervise children.
Dogs in the shelters are not often exposed to children. This does not mean they do not make good family pets, but they may need some time to adjust to young active children. You should also take the time to teach your children how to properly approach dogs and to be gentle when touching all animals. Don’t leave your children, especially young children alone with any animal in order to avoid accidents.
4. Supervise the dog in the backyard.
Again, dogs take time to adjust to new surroundings and shelter dogs are never left out in yard on their own. Simply keep an eye on your dog until they become more familiar with their surroundings in order to make sure they won’t escape the yard or ruin any of your landscaping.
5. Go Slow
And finally go slow. I can’t say it enough, dogs need time to adjust. They can get scared and feel defensive when being taken to a new home. Shelters dogs are often strays or abused. They are not used to being in a home unless they were lucky enough to be in foster care. They may act out, which can include biting. But if you give your new family member space and time to adjust, this can be avoided. Do not push your new dog to preform tricks or to sleep in a certain spot right away. Shelter dogs are often crate trained, so a crate may make your new dog feel much safer while adjusting to their new home. Your new dog may also be slow to eat right away, but give it a few days and allow them to become more comfortable.
Overall if you supervise your new dog and give it time, you should find the dog will come out of its shell and be a great addition to your family. Just give it time and don’t try to push the dog past its limits too soon. Make sure your existing pets know you’re not replacing them, and that they still have a special place in your home too. And NEVER create competition among your new dog and your existing pets, because this will lead to fights. Many people are nervous about adopting a shelter dog, but they receive training, vet care, socialization, temperament evaluations, and so much more while at the shelter. Pet store dogs do not receive any of those perks and often need much more training once in a home. Do not be afraid to adopt from a shelter. Shelter dogs are the best dogs and they appreciate every ounce of love they receive and will return the love unconditionally for a lifetime.