Adopting a dog from a shelter can be a great way to give an animal a new lease on life. However, there are a few things you should plan to do in the days and weeks after getting your new buddy. Use this guide to give your shelter rescue the right foundation for a happy, healthy life with you.
Schedule A Vet Visit
While some shelters provide basic veterinary care for animals before they are adopted, it's a good idea to take your dog to the local animal hospital for a checkup. The vet can confirm that your pet has all of the proper vaccinations and identify any potential health problems that might have been missed by the shelter. This appointment also gives you the chance to establish care for your pet should he or she need medical attention later on.
Arrange For Obedience Classes
Establishing rules in the home right away can help prevent bad behaviors from becoming routine. Look into obedience classes you can take with your dog to help establish boundaries and to reinforce that you are the person in charge in your home. Be sure to practice what you learn in the obedience classes at home, and stock up on treats to use as reinforcement every time your dog does something good.
Create Space For Your Dog
Your shelter dog may have never had a loving, permanent home. Creating a personal space for your dog can help create a supportive environment, and it also gives the pet a place that's only for him or her. Purchase a pet bed and a few toys, and place them in a dedicated area in your home. This might be in your bedroom so your dog can sleep near you, or it might be in the living room where you and your family spend the majority of your time. Don't move the bed and toys, as this area should be your dog's permanent space in the home.
Establish A Potty Routine
Preventing your dog from having accidents is also a concern when bringing a new pet home. Shelter dogs may be used to going for walks on set schedules, so it's a good idea to set a routine for walks and potty breaks early. If you have a yard for your dog to do his or her business in, you may want to use the leash to walk your pet outside. This can help to transition the dog from walks to roaming in the backyard. If you'll continue a daily walking schedule, ask the shelter how frequently and at which times your dog is used to being walked.
If you have concerns about your shelter rescue's health or behavior at any point after the adoption, don't hesitate to contact your pet hospital. Together, you can determine your dog's needs and come up with a plan to meet them.