Like all of our parents told us every time we asked, “Getting a dog is a lot of responsibility,” and as usual, they were right (darn). While they told us about how hard it would be and how much work it would entail, they failed to mention how in most cases it would all be worth it in the end. We want to help you prepare yourself for everything that comes with adopting a four-legged fur-baby.
We teamed up with a new dog mom to get a first hand (paw) look at her adopting experience. Check out her tips:
1. Dog ownership is SO much more than just feeding him, walking him, and getting snuggles.
Being a good dog owner means being the leader of the pack at all times and I would challenge you to be honest with yourself about whether or not that suits your personality type. I found that I severely underestimated what it would take to get a somewhat traumatized rescue pup to fit seamlessly into my lifestyle. Stick to your guns about being the leader of the pack; sometimes it’s tough not to bend to the will of such a cute little face, but the reward of a well-behaved dog will be well worth it.
2. Know when to ask for help (especially if you’re a new dog owner).
I ended up enlisting the help of a trainer to get help with barking at other dogs on walks. Rescue dogs come with a history and there can sometimes be a lot of bad behavior that needs to be un-learned. Learning about body language and tone of voice is crucial since, go figure, dogs don’t speak English.
3. Don’t judge a dog or his personality by the first few days or even weeks of having him.
It takes a while for him to feel comfortable in his new home and for him to really come out of his shell! Even now, a month and a half in, I find that each day is a little bit different so I’m slowly starting to accept that getting to know each other is going to be a much longer process than anticipated. That said, once you start to settle into a routine, things become way more predictable and manageable!
4. Buy your dog stuff from a place with a good return policy.
There will be a lot of trial and error while you figure out what you and your dog like; I have been through 2 harnesses, 3 leashes, and countless types of toys, treats, and food until I discovered what works well for us.
5. Also, invest in baby gates.
Trust me, it is much easier when your dog doesn’t have the run of your entire house.
6. Understand that rescue dogs have a past. It is a risk you take adopting one.
Go with a shelter that has a solid trial adoption policy, and make sure to find out as much as you can about your dog’s history so that you can know what to look for during the trial period. Also make sure to remember that the shelter may not tell you everything, either to try to get you to adopt the dog or because they might not know. Try your dog out in ALL sorts of situations during any trial period time that you get: inside, outside, crowded areas, busy intersections, with kids, behind fences, with dogs, with cats, on-leash, off-leash, in the car, on a trail if that’s your thing, etc. Gather as much information as you can about how your dog reacts in different situations so that you can make a well-informed decision on whether or not that dog will be a good match for your home.
7. Know your limitations; no shame in admitting that maybe you and your rescue dog are not meant to be.
Dogs have personalities as varied as humans do, and it’s important to find a dog that not only compliments your own personality, but that fits into your lifestyle effortlessly. Ultimately, although it’s the harder decision to make, it’s better to admit that it’s not a good match and enlist the help of the shelter to find something more appropriate for him, than to keep the dog and try to make it work only to make both yourself and the dog miserable in the long run. Hard truth, for sure.
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We really hope these seven tidbits of info help you on your adopting journey. Adopting not only changes your life, but the dog’s as well. You’re essentially giving them a second chance at a furever home of which every dog is deserving. So bookmark this blog, stay in touch with your local shelter, and keep an eye out on craigslist for some cheap baby gates.