¿WHAT SHOULD I CONSIDER BEFORE ADOPTING?
Adoption must be carefully considered, since bringing a new living being in a household will certainly result in some changes in our daily routine. Even though it will be a great source of satisfaction, we must take into account that a pet has a series of needs, for which we will be entirely responsible during the entire lifetime of the animal (food and veterinary expenses; spending a lot of our time with the animal…)
It is crucial that all family members agree on having a pet, as every member will be involved in its care and education.
CHOOSING AN ANIMAL
When choosing an animal for adoption, we must take into account different aspects that will facilitate successful integration, both for the animal and the family.
Available time and space may be some of the factors to consider. It is also important to assess whether we have an active or a sedentary lifestyle, whether there are children or elderly people at home… Considering these factors is essential in order to choose the pet that best fits in the family. Should it be an adult or a puppy? Should it be large or small? Active or quiet? Although the final decision is yours, it’s important that you let our adoption counselors advise you on which pet would best fit into your life and household.
Before bringing your new friend home, it would be ideal to come to the shelter and walk the dog several times. Thus, you can get a feeling about your future relationship. Think about it twice, since you’ll live with it for its lifetime. If we spend time with the animal in the shelter, we will become more and more familiar with it, so settling in will be easier.
The pre-adoption phase is a great moment for family members to reach an agreement on rules concerning the animals’s education. Should it be allowed in the bedrooms or not, where will you feed it, should it be allowed on the couch or not… These rules must be agreed upon before bringing the pet home, in order to implement them from the beginning. It is a common error to be too indulgent with the animal at first, and then we gradually try to teach the animal discipline. This makes it difficult for an animal to understand and comply with rules that have not always existed.
Before the animal is brought home, we’ll have to buy all those items we are going to need: food and water bowls, leash, collar or harness, bed or mattress (if the pet is not going to be allowed to climb up onto the couch, there should be a designated and “appealing” place to sleep), chewing bones or toys (dogs find chewing quite relaxing; and it is important to remember that on the on the very first days, the many changes may stress out your pet).
SETTLING IN A NEW HOUSEHOLD
CONGRATULATIONS FOR ADOPTING A NEW FAMILY MEMBER:
When we adopt an animal, we must take a few things into account. Though it’s not always the case, abandonment or life in a shelter may turn into a traumatic experience. That’s why some animals may become more sensitive, distrustful or they may easily scare. In this case, establishing a connection with them may require specific work.
This means that, mainly at the beginning we must be extra patient with it, and treat the animal in a extra friendly way without putting too much strain on it. The dog will probably need a 20-day adaptation period to start feeling comfortable in its new home. Let’s see which are the main steps to follow, in order to achieve a successful adaptation.
The following guidelines are based on our staff experiences throughout hundreds of adoptions. This experience shows us that every animal is different, and that we will hardly find two equal cases. Likewise, we will hardly find the same solution for every case. Even so, we think that the advice we provide you below may become a proper starting point to help your pet to settle in your home.
It’s very important to identify your pet from the beginning. Besides a microchip implant, it is recommended that your pet wears an ID tag with your telephone number on it. In case your animal goes missing, it’s the fastest way to locate it.
Family members should agree on what to allow and what not to allow the pet to do. For example, in case we would rather the animal not get into the bedrooms, or jump onto the couch, we must communicate this clearly from the very start. We often make the mistake of at first allowing the animal to do whatever it wants to, and we don’t set clear limits, which then later we try to enforce. If we do set limits from the beginning, it’ll be easier for the animal to “accept” them. If we don’t do that, our pet won’t understand why it shouldn’t behave in a manner it was allowed to before.
It is also important to make it clear from the start where it should sleep and be feed.
ARRIVING AT HOME:
For the first day, it’s convenient for the animal to stay home in a safe and quiet atmosphere, which will allow the pet to sniff and look around the area. In order to let it know each family member, it could be a good idea to allow the animal to approach each one by itself, instead of being ourselves who approach it. It’s a common error to pay too much attention to it during the first days. This may cause dependency, which could eventually turn into a problem. We must help the dog to manage diverse situations by itself. In case you own a spacious house with garden, it might be a good idea if the dog stayed home for a couple of days before taking it somewhere else. This way, your pet will learn that this is its home. Excess stimulation during the first days may cause an increased level of anxiety.
But if you live in a flat, then let it stay at home for some hours, before talking a walk in a quiet hour, preferably in the evening. It would be good to start walking the dog for short strolls, just enough to do their necessities and sniff out the environment. This way, the dog will become used to being housetrained , and it will familiarize itself with its new neighbourhood and the way back home. Thus, we gently contribute to building a daily routine, and we will gradually change several short walks for less but longer walks.
Sometimes it happens that your new family member has little appetite. That is normal. Your pet is trying to get used to many changes, and its routine has suddenly become different. We can help by adding an appealing ingredient such as boiled rice with chicken, sausages, or dog paté… You will be able to gradually remove the “extra” ingredient and your pet will get used to its regular diet which ideally should be a natural one. In Canópolis, we recommend a natural diet (home-made), due to the health benefits we have observed in our animals.
First of all, we must understand that not every animal is the same, and each of them will have specific needs. There are dogs with certain fears which might make them feel insecure, while others are used to all sorts of situations.
That’s why the type of walk (and the time you devote to it) will depend on the animal’s tolerance level. If your dog sniffs the ground, the trees, or other dogs along the walk, you can consider it a good sign. This means that the walk is being positive for your pet. Afraid or stressed dogs are often not able to pay much attention to olfactory stimuli.
If your dog seems scared, we will go for short walks, and we’ll pay attention to stress, anxiety or fear signs. A stressed animal pants significantly, and it frequently licks its snout. In case the animals feels scared, it’ll try to flee or it will freeze (it’ll refuse to go on walking). Its tail will also be a mood indicator.
If you own a fearful animal, it’s recommended to use a harness in order to walk it. This makes it more difficult for the pet to escape and should it pull the collar does not pull on the throat . You may even attach one leash to the collar, and another one to the harness. This way, if the dog manages to get rid of one of them, there’ll be another leash left and you will be able to react with enough time.
As the dog accepts and tolerates the new environment (and its stimuli), we will lengthen the walks and let the leash looser. Then we can switch to a longer (flexi) leash, and teach the pet to pay attention to our voice..
The first few times we decide to unleash the dog, you should choose a safe area. A fenced public dog playpen may be a good choice. This will allow us to check whether the dog responds to our call or not, avoiding the risk of it running away..
Even when the dog responds to our call, it’s advisable to unleash the animal in a safe area, not too crowded, free of children and noise, and far from roads, in order to avoid a potential fright or accident.
POTENTIAL PROBLEMS WE MAY ENCOUNTER:
Fear: If you have adopted a fearful or insecure dog, you have to help the animal compensate the confidence and security it lacks. In order to do that, we must be deeply conscious about our movements. We will move gently and quietly, in an natural soft way, without loud noises. This way, our presence will be agreeable and feel safe for the animal. Never force your pet to sit or lay down. Particularly, do not force your pet to interact with you. Let the dog to be the one that gradually gets closer to its new family members, as it feels more and more comfortable.
Improper hygiene. Dogs must learn a hygienic routine, probably different than the one they had in the shelter, and stress may cause temporary incontinence. Routine, walks, and balance brought by its new life will contribute to stop incontinence. In most cases, becoming used to a new routine is just a matter of days.
Destructive behavior: this kind of behavior usually happens when they stay alone, and it often stems from a certain level of anxiety. As we have already said, it is important not to create reliance on us. Exiting the dog before leaving home can lead to this behavior. The dog should be gradually taught to stay alone at home. We can start with short periods of time, and then we can increase the time intervals. The dog should always have a chewing toy or bone available, which helps the animal cope with anxiety.
In case we come across a situation we don’t know how to solve, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the shelter the animal comes from. In case they are unable to help you, they’ll find a reliable person that can. Most of the problems we may find are easily solvable when treated from the beginning. In case that improper behavior turns into a habit, it will be more complex to deal with, even though nothing is an impossible challenge!
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