What To Expect When You Adopt A Dog

Amy Tokic
by Amy Tokic
Our guide to what you can expect when you adopt a dog

Yay – you’ve decided to adopt a dog! That’s wonderful news. And because you’re such an awesome expectant pet parent, you need to know just what you’re in for.

  • Your dog is an investment – in time and money. Before you adopt a dog, you should know that your life and your budget are going to change drastically. In terms of money, there’s usually an adoption fee involved, but there are long-term finances to think about. Dog insurance, medical bills, dog food, grooming… and those are just a few of the things you’ll need to be prepared for. As well, your new dog is a time commitment. You may need to rearrange your schedule to make your dog feel welcome and take care of her needs. That means skipping drinks after work to take your dog out for a pee and making sure you’re up early to take her for a walk. If you’re prepared for the money and time it takes, then you’re ready to adopt a dog.
  • You’re going to be tested – by the rescue organization, that is. They will evaluate you and you’ll be interviewed about your home and lifestyle. They will also ask questions to make sure that you and the dog are a perfect match.
  • Expect a home check. Some shelters and rescue organizations come by your home before the adoption process is complete to ensure that it is safe and compatible. They make sure that your home is large enough for the breed you’ve choose, is your yard is safe and that your home is prepared for the new arrival.
  • You need to set limits. Starting from the day you bring her home, your dog is going to look to you to tell her what’s right and wrong. This includes where it’s appropriate to pee, where she can sleep, meal times and play times. Most importantly is setting yourself up as the pack leader. She needs to know that you’re in charge. Do this lovingly and firmly over time. No matter how cute she is, you need to correct her when she does something wrong. Dogs crave order and when you deny it to them, mayhem and destruction are sure to follow.
  • It’s may take a while to get her into the swing of your household, so don’t expect too much. She may be scared and timid. She may even hide or refuse to eat until she gets to know you better. Be patient and give her space. Talk in gentle tones and offer treats and affection. If she has an accident indoors, don’t punish her. If you give her love and attention, she’ll soon come out of her shell and become an excited member of your family.
  • If you have other pets, you may see some jealously or aggression. Your new rescue dog may become possessive of you or the family when she comes to live with you. You may also see resource guarding behaviors toward other dogs over food or toys. As your new arrival and the established dogs get to know each other, there may be some arguments as to rescue dog’s place in the pack. Don’t panic – this is normal behavior. As your new dog becomes adjusted to her new home and becomes more confident, this behavior will disappear.

If you’ve adopted a dog, where there any surprises that you weren’t aware of? Do you have any advice to pass along to readers who want to adopt a dog? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Photo Credit: Rob Swatski

Amy Tokic
Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic, Editor of PetGuide.com, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).

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