You did the right thing – you adopted a dog from a rescue or a shelter. You have bought all of the wonderful dog toys and treats and the best food and your expectations for a wonderful life together are flying high.
You have visions of your first day together. A trip to the dog park, followed by an outdoor latte at Starbucks…dog companion close at hand, and finally, rest time, nose to nose, paw to hand, lying on the floor or couch together.
Reality check time. The dog that you observed with his foster family was comfortable there. He knew the routine, had bonded to the family and knew the dogs in the household. You?? Not so much – you’re new.
It is important that when you come home with a newly adopted dog, that you allow for bonding time. Some dogs will meld into your household quickly and seamlessly. Others? They will require time and patience.
Heading immediately to an off-leash area is a mistake. Not only does the dog not know you very well, but you do not know the dog. You do not know the dog well enough to anticipate (correctly) his reactions to other dogs, in new situations. The dog doesn’t even know you well enough to guarantee that he’ll respond when you call his name.
Taking the dog to an outdoor cafe to socialize with a mass of new faces and smells can be a mistake too. Again, there is no bond there and you are unable to anticipate reactions. You might think that your dog will welcome all of the pro-offered hands from well-meaning strangers, but you don’t know this for sure.
In the beginning, it’s best to tell strangers that you have just adopted the dog and that you are getting to know each other, so please, no petting. This is not the case for all dogs, but if you aren’t 100 percent certain that your dog will happily accept the touching from strangers, skip it initially. Do you really want the risk of your dog snapping at a perfect stranger? Probably not. This is especially important for large breed dogs in areas where there are children (playgrounds, parks, crowded beaches).
Head over heels in love with your dog and wanting to plant multiple kisses on that adorable snout?? Step back and take a moment. You might get away with the kissy face antics right off the bat, or you might get a tooth through your nose. Again, take some time, build a bond and get to know your new dog (and let him get to know you).
The first 24-48 hours often brings some pacing, whining, or otherwise uncomfortable behavior from your newly adopted dog. This is normal and you should not panic. So many people expect to bring home a rescued dog and have him be perfect from day one.
Again, while this can happen, it’s not the norm and you shouldn’t be upset if Rin Tin Tin or Lassie isn’t channeled through your dog immediately.
Your best first day routine? Take a long walk together in an area that you are familiar with. Don’t take your dog where there are known fence chargers or off-leash dogs roaming. Head out somewhere comfortable and quiet – build a bond together.
Allow your dog sufficient down time. After your lengthy, quiet walk, allow your new dog to have some quiet time in his crate.
Establish the routines that you want to see followed from day one. Don’t make the first week all about coddling, spoiling and breaking rules. If you don’t want your new dog to take up residence on your bed or couch, don’t allow it in the beginning “just to make the dog feel more at home” , and then change the rules a couple of days later.
If you have another dog, be sure to feed the dogs separately until you are aware of any food guarding issues. The same thing goes for toys, treats and dog beds – observe and monitor the dogs until you know how they are going to react to one another, in varying situations.
Most of all, have patience and allow time for the bond and love to grow. Have no doubt, the bond and the love will grow – just don’t rush things. Plan on taking time to get to know one another. Enjoy the relationship as it blossoms.
“as published on Examiner.com“