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10 Steps to a Successful Adoption

10 Steps to a Successful Adoption

by Beth Ostrowski-Parks, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

 Here are ten steps to a successful dog adoption!
Following these 10 steps will help prevent problems and help you have the dog of your dreams.

1. Select wisely
If you have not yet adopted your dog, PLEASE READ this first!  As a dog trainer and behavior consultant, every day I help people work with dogs that have difficult behaviors.  If I can prevent you from having to go through that, I would love that and I'm sure you would too.

This is your most important step. Keep in mind this new dog will be with you for a long time 8 to 12 years!

  The more time you put into finding out about a dog, the more likely he or she will be a good match. There are some key phrases in certain dog adoption descriptions that you should be wary of:

  • Needs a home with no children. . .  Why? This dog has potentially been aggressive or even bitten a child. 
  • Needs to be a single dog. . . Why?  This dog is most likely NOT good with other dogs or animals in the home.
  • Would make an excellent agility dog. . . Why?  This dog is extremely active and potentially there have been troubling effects.
  • Just needs a strong owner or handler . . Why?  Probably a person new to having a dog would not be able to handle this dog.

Many dog trainers offer their services in the selection of a new dog. Consider any money you pay to a professional to help you get the right dog could keep you from spending money on trying to rehabilitate a dog with established negative behaviors.

Just take your time, do your homework and you will end up with a wonderful dog who may need some training, but as long as you don't have major behavior problems to fix, you'll be much better off.

2. Be prepared:

Once you have selected a puppy or dog, be sure you have everything you need at home so you don't have to scramble to get what you need later.

  • Bowls
  • Food
  • Proper leash and collar
  • Crate(s) (two is better than one)
  • (Crate-comfort is so important for a newly rescued dog.  For more information on that, please visit this article)
  • A dog training class or dog trainer lined up for the near future
  • Up to date dog training books 
  • Treats
  • And Finally:   As much knowledge as you can get your hands on from a qualified professional.  Try not to put your new dog’s training in the hands of “google”.

3. Have goals
Don't plan for the dog you are getting but for the well-behaved dog you want. This is where many people make their mistakes. People with newly adopted dogs are often so absorbed in their new dog's past and what the dog may have gone through.  Your new dog lives in the present.  You should too!   Consider now that your dog is so fortunate to have found a great home with you.  

4. Pick a time you will be around for a few days
When you schedule your adoption, try to pick a time you will be around for a few days.  Try to bring your new dog home when you know you will be around so that you can help him deal with the new rountine he has. Try not to bring your new dog home on Sunday and then go to work 9 - 5 on a Monday.

5. But, still plan on being away a little
However, do plan on being away a little to prepare your dog for real life.  The best time to bring a new dog home is when you have a couple of days off but still try to leave your new dog for short periods of time so he can begin to get ready to be left alone for longer stretches.

6. Introduce carefully
You do not know your new dog at all.  Even though he may have been in foster care, it was probably for a very short time.  It’s best to consider that you have to learn everything first hand so just be especially careful around young children and other animals.  This is in your new dog’s best interest as well that you introduce him to new situations carefully.  He or she could be very stressed with the new environment so it’s not fair to the new dog to throw lots of new things at him right away.  Your new dog is depending on you to set him up for success.

7. Watch
Once you've introduced him to new people, dogs, cats, and kids, watch everyone carefully. Even if you know very little about dog language your gut will tell you if something doesn't seem right.  It’s always better to be proactive rather than reactive.

8. Stick to the rules.
 Decide in advance what the rules will be in your home. Will he or she be allowed on the furniture? Will your new dog be sleeping in your bed? I hope that you will save these privileges until after you've done some training.    Either way,  just make plans with your family as to what you will all be allowing.  There is no gray area in dog training, especially in the beginning of a new relationship.

9. Begin gentle training right away
As I said earlier, find your dog trainer right away. Don't wait for problems to arise, try to fend them off by being proactive.  If you find the right person, you will be learning only gentle, non-punitive methods to start building the new relationship and dog of your dreams!

10. Have fun
Most important! Enjoy this journey. There is none other quite like it. Over time you and your dog will build an incredible bond from everything you do together.