Planning to Adopt a Dog? How to Help Your New Pet Feel at Home

Planning to Adopt a Dog? How to Help Your New Pet Feel at Home

In honor of National Rescue Dog Day on May 20, here are some tips for making your house a home after you adopt a dog.

When you adopt a dog, it’s a very exciting time for both you and your new furry family member. Dog adoption is a special process; therefore, it comes with special challenges.

Dog adoption is different from buying a new puppy, and there are plenty of little steps you can take to make your adopted animal feel more at home and comfortable with their new family. In recognition of National Rescue Dog Day on May 20, here is a guide about how dog adoption is different and how you can make your new canine companion feel happy and content in their fur-ever home.

How Dog Adoption Is Different

Puppies purchased from a reputable breeder are often tiny blank slates. They have a certain pedigree that offers some predictability. The breeder can often provide details about the mother and father dogs’ demeanor, health, and behavior, which can sometimes indicate what you can expect from your puppy. When you adopt a dog, it’s a little different.

Shelters and rescue organizations can make educated guesses about a dog’s breed and background, but rescued animals often come with some surprises. Especially if a dog hasn’t been at a shelter for very long, the shelter employees can’t offer a ton of insight into what you should expect from your pet. Depending on when and how the pet was rescued, your newly adopted animal might have a history or trauma that you need to address as the new owner. Many people who adopt a dog say that overcoming these challenges makes the bond more strong between owners and their adopted animals.

Adopted Dogs Often Have History

Even if a dog is young when rescued or placed in a shelter, there will be some unanswered questions about its history. Not knowing the breeds that appear in your animal’s ancestry places you at a little bit of a disadvantage in knowing what to expect from your pet.

Furthermore, if a pet is a few years old when adopted, they have likely already had experiences with humans and other animals. Depending on the nature of those experiences – positive or negative – your new pet might have developed certain behaviors in response to people or other pets. Even very specific situations, such as riding in a car, might trigger something from your pet’s history.

Adopted Dogs Can Be Nervous or Scared

Whether this is related to their history with another owner or their time spent in the shelter, rescue dogs can sometimes be nervous or scared. An adopted dog might cower, hide, whine, bark, or have accidents in the house. This fear and stress might even manifest themselves as aggression.

An older adopted german shephard sits by his new owners leg

All Dogs Are Different

Dogs have varying personalities, and this is especially true with rescue dogs. It’s important to remember that not all rescue dogs will have a history or trauma to cope with – many are totally content and happy when they arrive at their forever home.

Dogs come to be rescued for all sorts of reasons, not always because they were abused, neglected, or abandoned. Sometimes a loving family simply couldn’t care for them anymore, or they escaped from the backyard and got lost. However an adopted pet comes to you, it’s important to temper your expectations about their behavior. Only your pet can show you its personality!

Greater Challenge, Greater Reward

Many people feel that having to work a little harder to bond with their rescue dog makes that bond even stronger than they might have with a brand-new puppy. The love and trust of a rescue dog can be hard-won, but many owners feel that that connection is strong and well worth the time and effort it takes.

Tips For Helping Your Newly Adopted Dog Adjust

When you adopt a dog, you have to be prepared for behavioral anomalies and be ready to support your pet as they learn to be loved. There are many ways to make your new dog feel at home and help them adjust to family life. These include creating a predictable daily routine, providing them with a special space that is only for them, being patient as you introduce them to new people, pets, and environments, and using your veterinarian as a resource.

Create a Routine

After you adopt a dog, set a predictable daily routine. Consistency and stability in life have often been missing for an adopted dog, whether they’ve lived in the shelter or on the street. Rescue dogs will benefit from knowing when to expect their meals, playtime, and other daily habits.

CBD calming oil for dogs can be a functional addition to the daily routine of a recently adopted rescue dog. In combination with the powerful properties of CBD, melatonin can help your pet maintain a steady sleep schedule, so they are

well-rested and have plenty of energy during the day to adjust to their new environment. Not only can CBD calming oil and CBD calming chews complement everyday wellness, but they can also help maintain a sense of calm and manage signs of daily stress, especially as your dog learns to adjust to their new surroundings.

A brown and white jack russell terrier lays on a large white dog bed

Give Them a Special Space

Your pet should have a special place in your home, preferably a spot where they can get away from people and other pets if they need a moment alone. This might be a little dog house in the yard or a bed in the corner. Make the area comfortable by including a plush dog bed or cozy blanket. Indicate to your pet that this is their space by keeping their toys near the area. When your adopted dog has a special place to retreat to, it makes it easier for them to communicate when they are overwhelmed, tired, or just in need of a break from daily activities.

Be Patient

Don’t introduce all the new features of your adopted pet’s life at the same time. If there are other family members to present, including furry ones, take it day by day. Start by introducing human family members one by one with just a few hours of interaction each day. Then introduce other pets slowly and incrementally.

Also, if you want to take trips to the dog park, the beach, local trails, or other destinations after you adopt a dog, remember that these new environments might be triggering. Even after your pet feels comfortable at home, be careful and conscientious when introducing new environments.

Enlist Your Veterinarian

Whether this is your first pet or one in a long family history of pets, you need to make it a priority to introduce your newly adopted dog to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Veterinarians will be part of a healthy pet’s life no matter what, so it’s important that your rescue dog feel comfortable with this person in their life.

A trip to the veterinarian might be a challenge for your pet early on, so be patient and encouraging. Bring along lots of treats and offer plenty of pats (if that’s what your pet likes) and verbal encouragement. Your veterinarian can also provide further insight into how you can make your pet more relaxed and comfortable in their new home.

A dark haired woman in a yellow sweater leaves the pound with her newly adopted little brown and black dog

National Rescue Dog Day

Every year on May 20, we celebrate National Rescue Dog Day. Here’s what you need to know about this holiday, including how it started, why it’s important, and how you can celebrate.

How It Started

National Rescue Dog Day was founded by Lisa Wiehebrink, an author who writes books about the connection between humans and animals. Her organization, Tails That Teach, draws attention to dogs in shelters that need adoption and the importance of spaying and neutering. Her children’s books encourage kids to treat animals with respect and love.

National Rescue Dog Day was inspired by Wiehebrink’s dog Cooper, who was rescued in 2009. Cooper is the main character in the Tails That Teach books.

Why It’s Important

The Humane Society of the United States reports that more than 3 million dogs enter shelters every year. While this number is considerably lower than it was several decades ago, it’s still far too high. Those are dogs who aren’t living in comfortable, happy, fur-ever homes. Furthermore, almost 700,000 shelter dogs are euthanized annually. This is why it’s important to recognize the joy that a rescue dog can bring to families – in the hopes that, one day, we will no longer need animal shelters to house these precious pets.

Ways to Celebrate

There are plenty of ways to celebrate National Rescue Dog Day. Of course, the best way to celebrate is to adopt a dog! But if you aren’t in a position to do that right now, here are some other ways to help:

  • Donate to a local animal shelter.
  • Foster a dog.
  • Volunteer at a local shelter or rescue organization.
  • Talk to your children or friends about the importance of pet adoption.

When You Adopt a Dog, They’ll Need Support

An adopted pet will need support as they adjust to their new life, and you can do this by creating a routine for them, giving them a special space. Be patient as you introduce new things and make sure your veterinarian is on board with your decisions as a pet parent. To adopt a dog is to start a long, happy journey with a new friend in your life, and it’s a great reason to celebrate – on National Rescue Dog Day and every day!