Did you know that only about 25% of dogs in shelters end up getting adopted? This means that a staggering number of dogs are euthanized each year. When adult dogs are adopted, they pose special problems. First of all, the dog may come from a loving family and while he may not have any behavioral problems, adjusting to a new family can be difficult because he misses his old family. Secondly, many dogs adopted from shelters come from difficult backgrounds: they may have been homeless or abused and are not used to being loved. In the latter case, adopted dogs may demonstrate some behavioral problems.
It really takes a special person to adopt an adult dog because most of us are attracted to puppies. But if you’ve decided to adopt an adult dog, here are some tips for the first few weeks at home.
- Show your new pet around. Make your new companion feel more comfortable by showing him where to find water, food, and his bed. If you plan to keep your new pet indoors, take him outside on frequent intervals so he knows where to toilet. Expect a quick but necessary period of house training where some mistakes will happen.
- Give him time to adjust. Your new pet will need some time to adjust to his new surroundings. Be patient with barking or other behavioral problems until he’s had a few weeks to get comfortable.
- Spend quality time with your dog. Showing your dog lots of love in the beginning is important for building a trusting relationship. Especially in the first few weeks you want to give your dog lots of time and attention.
Make consistent rules. In the beginning, frequently reward your pet for good behavior and always stick to a consistent set of rules. While some people feel punishment may be necessary, studies actually show that reward is much more effective.