Every year, 3.0 million dogs enter shelters in the United States. Of this number, 1.2 million dogs never make it out alive. If you adopt one of these shelter animals, you will not only be saving a life; you will enhancing your own. Rescue animals can make wonderful, loving pets, but you will need to treat them with extra care for the first few weeks after you bring them home.
When you first bring home your dog, keep them in one designated room or area in your residence. This action helps them get used to the atmosphere of their new home. The sounds, smells, and general routine of your home will be unfamiliar and can overwhelm your pet at first. Also, consider keeping a leash on your dog when they are first in your home so you can quickly but gently show them what behaviors are acceptable. However, only use the leash when the animal is being supervised.
These shelter dogs have often had really difficult lives. They may have suffered from physical and emotional abuse. You will need to speak gently to them at all times because they are frequently timid at first. When they are scared, they may inadvertently relieve themselves on the floor. One way to help them overcome their fears is to give them a private place of their own. They will learn to feel relaxed and at home more quickly if they have a safe retreat.
You need to establish a schedule for feeding, exercise, and toilet training. You should spend plenty of time with your dog, but you should also have them spend short periods alone. Take them outdoors immediately upon arriving at your home to show them their "toileting" area and then regularly take them out to the same spot to establish good habits. After a few weeks pass, you can add activities to their lives such as trips to the dog park or a play date with another animal. Just introduce each new activity slowly so as not to spook your pet.
Adopting a rescue animal is an act of kindness that can earn you years with a loving, loyal animal. These dogs may require a bit of special treatment when they are first adopted, but most will soon acclimate to your home and a healthy routine. Your pet will thrive, and you and your family can feel good about helping an animal in need.
If you have more questions or concerns about your new pet, talk to a local veterinarian.