Adopting a shelter pet is a choice that enriches both the life of an animal in need and your family’s. The excitement that comes with meeting a new life-long friend, and the bond that humans and animals share is one of the most incredible things we can experience. Adopting an animal from the shelter and welcoming them into your home can also be challenging, as animals rescued from the shelter can be sensitive to change. To help improve the transition from shelter to forever-home, we’ve created a list of tips we collected from owners of shelter pets.
Before you adopt
There are several factors to consider before adopting an animal from the shelter, so be sure you’re well versed on the following before you make the big decision:
- First things first, if you’re adopting a dog and are unsure as to whether or not the breed you are looking at is the right choice for you, refer to our previous blog post to help find the right dog breed for your lifestyle. Choosing a high-energy breed if you’re living in a small apartment is going to make the transition a lot more challenging, so take that into consideration beforehand.
- Do your research as to whether or not your new pet has been crate/litter trained, and are up-to-date on their vaccinations. Most shelters provide this information, so be sure to do your research beforehand so you aren’t surprised by your new pet’s bathroom habits.
- Make sure you know your pet’s dietary requirements and restrictions, so you aren’t feeding them anything that might cause potential problems.
On their first day home
As we’ve mentioned, the initial move from the animal shelter to your family home is a stressful one. While it might be your initial reaction to smother your new pet with affection, give them some time to get used to their new surroundings. Ensure the area of your house you are keeping your new pet in, doesn’t contain any easily breakable or chewable furniture. Anxious energy can be expected, so focusing your pet to positive forms of exercise such as playing with a toy, this is the safer, less expensive choice. It’s also a wise idea to show your pet to the designated “bathroom” area, so they quickly come to understand where they can do their business. Accidents are still likely at this stage, so be understanding of your pet, and be sure to praise them when necessary.
As you and your pet grow more comfortable together, there may still be a few hangups along the way. These can be expected, so to help you prepare for the unexpected, here are some solutions to common challenges you might face:
- Your pet was much friendlier at the shelter, now they are visibly anxious now that they’re at your home. This tends to occur because your pet was interacting in an environment that was familiar to them. Give your pet time and they will soon warm up to you, and in the meantime, provide them will all of the necessary comforts.
- Your new pet isn’t friendly with your other pets. If you own other pets, introducing your new pet to their new family can take time and care. Allow each pet to socialize with one another on their own terms, and in a setting that is comfortable to them. Ensure that these interactions are friendly, and praise each animal for not being aggressive towards the other.
Help your dog relax into your new home
Adopted dogs quickly develop bonds with their owners, which is fantastic, but can also cause some stress when separated. You can help your pet develop their confidence with a few exercises that help promote their ability to relax when home alone. Begin by leaving your house on a regular basis, for short intervals, and gradually extending the time you are away from your pet. If this is too stressful for your pet, consider trying out micro-departures, by closing the door when you’re in the other room. This can help them build up self-confidence and trust that you’ll return. Stay calm and composed. These separations can be difficult for everyone involved, so do your best to stay relaxed, and your pet will soon pick up on your emotional cues. Keep them entertained! If you’re looking for fun toys or treats to keep your new pet occupied, we’ve shared a guide on how to create a frozen, stuffed Kong; perfect for entertainment!
We hope you’ve learned a little something, and if you’re interested in adopting an animal from a local shelter; go for it! We promise this choice is one that will not only change the life of an animal but your own as well.