Woman hugging shelter dog

The No. 1 Thing To Do for Your Adopted Dog

Johnna Devereaux C.P.N.

Are you one of the nearly 1-in-4 dog owners in the U.S. who adopted your dog from a shelter (or are considering this option)? According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) nearly 23% of dogs in homes are from shelters - and the trend is on the rise. Which is great news for the millions of dogs waiting for their furever homes.

While you need to prepare for a new pup no matter where they’re from, a shelter dog has different needs. One of the key things to remember is that your new dog’s life has just changed in a big way. Your cozy home is a far cry from a kennel. And while that’s a great thing in the long run, in the short term, you need to give them time to adjust. 

Dogs (young and old) need time to become familiar with their new surroundings. In general, it’s fairly normal for a pup to take 3-4 weeks to break out of their shell and trust you. This is especially true for shelter animals. Humans have failed them before. So it’s understanding that it would take them time to trust people again. In addition to time, here is the number one thing you can do help them: 

Create a Safe Space With (or Without) a Crate

Chihuahua sleeping in her crate with blankets

The most helpful thing you can do to help your dog decompress from the stress of changes is to provide a safe space (or two) where they can retreat to in the beginning. Crates (in the right size for your pooch) are definitely the way to go.

  • Place one in the central area of your home and one in a quieter area.
  • Make sure to never force your pup into the crate or safe area. The best way to entice them is to make the space inviting with treats, blankets, toys, etc.
  • Leave the door open so they can enter (or leave) freely.
  • Offer them a chew option, like a bully stick in a bully buddy, to help them relax. Chewing releases serotonin - the chemical in bodies that helps us (humans and animals alike) maintain moods.

Johnna and her dogs with Bully Buddy

Last, but not least, make sure to manage your expectations. Not all dogs came from a good home the first time around. Your new little pup will need time to learn that you are going to be their furever home. Trust them, love them and treat them kindly. They’ve been through a lot!

Happy mother and son at home petting their dog

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