Tips for new adopters

BEFORE YOU ADOPT…

Make sure everyone in the family wants a pet: Pet ownership can affect many aspects of family life, from deciding who gets to take the puppy out in the middle of the night to making sure everyone understands an animal is a long-term time, emotional and financial investment. And because the pet will be part of the family for the long haul, it’s important that everyone is on board about the kind, size and personality of the companion of choice.

Do your research: In Miwuki Pet Shelter you can research breeds and characteristics to identify animals that best fit your lifestyle before you arrive at the shelter, where you could find yourself falling for a cute cat or dog that wouldn’t be a great match.

Check the requirements: To avoid delays once you meet that perfect pet, shelters recommend looking into what paperwork is required for adoption.

Puppy-proof your home: Similar to preparing for a new baby, it is important to make sure a home is safe for a new arrival of a dog or cat. Animals can get into just as much trouble as young children, so working ahead to keep valuables out of reach of the furry friends can save time and money in the end.

WHILE YOU’RE AT THE SHELTER

Bring your dog if you already have one at home: Many shelters require families to bring any dogs they already have at home for a meet-and-greet with the potential new pet, a policy meant to ensure chemistry between the two animals won’t be an issue.

Check the chemistry with humans, too: While some may have their heart set on a certain breed or look of dog or cat, it’s important to keep an open mind when looking for a forever friend.

Ask questions about the animal: Don’t be afraid to ask questions about anything regarding the animal, such as their health history or the situation that put them in a shelter. The more information the shelter can give, the better prepared a family will be when questions arise long after they have left the shelter.

Bring that paperwork you prepared: Meeting lease requirements for adopting an animal can delay a pet’s release for a day or more if the paperwork isn’t ready in advance. Many times, the lease is used as confirmation of what is and is not allowed on the property. Without that proof, a family would not be able to bring home their chosen pet the day they picked it out.

SHOPPING CHECKLIST

It may be a good idea to wait until you select your new pet before you begin shopping for supplies. For example, some items, such as food and water bowls or collars and harnesses, depend upon the size of the pet you will be adopting.

Also, be sure to find out which food your pet was eating in the shelter or foster home so that you can provide the same in the beginning, again to ease the transition. After the pet has settled in, talk with your veterinarian about switching to the food of your choice.

Once you’ve selected your pet, here’s a checklist of supplies you may need:

  • Necessary Items for Dogs:
    • Food and water bowls
    • Food (canned and/or dry)
    • Collar
    • Four to six-foot leash
    • ID tag with your phone number
    • Hard plastic carrier or foldable metal crate
    • Dog bed
    • Doggy shampoo and conditioner
    • Nail clippers
    • Canine toothbrush and toothpaste
    • Brush or comb (depends on your pet’s coat length and type)
    • Super-absorbent paper towels
    • Sponge and scrub brush
    • Non-toxic cleanser
    • Enzymatic odor neutralizer
    • Plastic poop baggies (biodegradable ones are best) or pooper scooper
    • Absorbent house-training pads
    • Variety of toys (a ball, rope, chew toy and puzzle toy are good starts)
    • Variety of treats (such as small cookies, larger rawhides, etc.)
    • First-aid supplies
    • Baby gate(s)
  • Necessary Items for Cats:
    • Food and water bowls
    • Food (canned and/or dry)
    • Litter box and scooper
    • Kitty litter
    • Collar
    • ID tag with your phone number
    • Hard plastic carrier
    • Nail clippers
    • Feline toothbrush and toothpaste
    • Brush or comb (depends on your cat’s coat length and type)
    • Super-absorbent paper towels
    • Sponge and scrub brush
    • Non-toxic cleanser
    • Enzymatic odor neutralizer
    • Variety of toys (toys including catnip are a favorite)
    • First-aid supplies

ONCE YOU’RE HOME…

Adjustment Period:

Moving to a new home can be stressful for dogs. It’s an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people. Some dogs experience stomach upset and diarrhea. House-trained dogs may regress and have accidents. Some will shy away from you for a while until you earn their trust. Be patient with your baby. It may take a while for him to adore you as much as you adore him. How long it takes is different for every dog. It could take anywhere from three days to three months for your new dog to settle in. Just be patient with him and show him in all of your actions that he is safe with you.

If you’re adopting a puppy rather than an adult dog, expect an adjustment period for yourself, too! Adopting a puppy is like having a baby. There will be lots of potty breaks because their bladder isn’t yet fully developed. Expect to get up a couple of times during the night for potty breaks. If you work, plan to come home everyday at lunch to let your puppy outside to potty. If you can’t come home, consider hiring a pet sitter. Or, use an X-pen instead of a crate and set up a potty area on one side. Just know that a puppy HAS TO potty several times a day and plan accordingly. We recommend writing down every time the dog goes potty (both outside and accidents) so you can begin to see their patterns and how frequently they need to go out.  Puppies will also chew on everything available, so don’t make anything available that he shouldn’t chew on.

Establishing the Rules:

It can be tempting when you bring home a new dog to be a little lax on the rules. Resist the temptation now so you can avoid problems later on. It’s much easier to prevent a bad habit from starting than it is to break one. Not only that, but dogs, like children, like rules and structure. It makes them feel more secure to know exactly what is expected of them and exactly what happens if they don’t follow the rules. It also keeps order in the household. If you have other pets who already know the rules, they can get quite stressed out by an unruly newcomer. Whatever you do, do NOT feel sorry for your poor little rescue dog. Nobody wants pity, dogs included. For your dog’s best interest, put whatever sad past he may have had behind him and live in the current moment. He’s with you now, happy and cared for; he has no need for pity.

  • Do not leave your new dog unsupervised in the house unless he is crated until he has learned the rules. This way, you can prevent bad habits from forming. If you don’t see him, you can’t stop him!
  • No unsupervised time unless crated also helps with house-training. If he doesn’t have a chance to make a mistake, the bad habit won’t form.
  • If you don’t want dogs on the furniture, don’t let him on the furniture just because he’s new.
  • Expect your dog to break the rules frequently in the beginning. He is not being stubborn or difficult. Dogs have a hard time generalizing, which means that something he learns in the living room will have to be learned all over again in the kitchen and again in the bedroom. It’s easy to get frustrated when you feel like he should understand already, but he still doesn’t. It helps to have a sense of humor. It can take 30-50 or more perfect repetitions before a dog truly “gets” a command.

Licensing & Identification:

If your city requires dogs to be licensed, get this taken care of right away. Licenses can usually be purchased at the Vet’s office. Even if your city does not require a license, it’s a good idea to provide contact information on your dog’s collar. If your pet is lost or stolen, microchipping is a good way to ensure his safe return. Collars can come off, but microchips are there to stay.

Training & Behavior:

Just like children, dogs need to be taught good behavior. Whether you’re bringing home a puppy or an adult, you can expect that he will do some things that you don’t approve of and maybe have some bad habits. Your dog will need to be taught how you want him to behave. The easiest and most fun way to teach your dog is to take him to “school” (training classes). You both get to meet other people and dogs. You get the benefit of expert knowledge and immediate feedback. Your dog gets socialization. Both of you may even make a new friend there.

You can also work on teaching your dog yourself. There are lots of resources available, but it can be difficult to determine which information is bad and which is good. If your dog has habits you’d like to break, don’t give up on him. Teach him instead!  Consistency and persistency are key.  Be consistent with your verbal cues and hand motions – “sit” and “sit down” sound very different to a dog.  One word commands combined with a hand signal are best!  Be persistent with your training and set aside time to practice every day until (and even after) your dog reliably responds to your commands.

Training also makes dogs happy. Studies on the brain show that animals like to have their brains challenged.  The mental exercise can be just as rewarding (and exhausting) to your dog as physical exercise.  As long as you use positive methods to teach your dog, he will LOVE learning. Training also helps your dog understand that they are supposed to take direction from you.

You can check the original info in: Petfinder / Clear the Shelters / Wags & Walks