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Shelter Dog Adoption, What You Need to Know

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Shelter Dog Adoption, What You Need to Know

You are staying home, washing your hands, and when you’re out, you wear a face mask and practice social distancing. But you’ve gone to an animal shelter and adopted a new dog. Now what?

The first thing you should do is give your new dog a big hug.  And then you should hug yourself.  You have done a very nice thing and given special meaning to “shelter-at-home” to an animal less fortunate.  Admittedly, spouses, children, partners, parents and maybe even in-laws can be fun to live with… for a time. But there is nothing more exhilarating and fun than introducing a new dog to a household that may be suffering from cabin fever as a result of COVID-19.

Hopefully you have already prepared the household with the following:

  • A 6-foot nylon leash helps your new pet greet four-legged buddies while you stay socially distanced.
  • A nylon collar and halter appropriately sized are essential. I use the PetSafe Gentle Leader™ halter when Charlotte walks with me.
  • Pet tags with your current contact information in case he would wander off.  You might consider a veterinary implanted microchip eventually.
  • A wire or plastic crate for nighttime sleeping or as a sanctuary when the household gets too crazy.
  • A pet bed in the living area to keep him in sync with daily activities.
  • Chew toys for oral health and treats as rewards.
  • High quality natural or organic dry dog foods as well as canned foods that can serve as meal toppers.  Always feed twice daily.
  • Identify local veterinarians.  Most veterinarians have social distancing procedures already in place.  Also, make sure the shelter provides you any medical records and vaccination history they have.

It is important that you provide time for your new pet to adjust. It can be sometimes overwhelming for dogs to suddenly be in a place quieter than a noisy shelter and with more freedom to explore and have more fun things to do. Let him investigate and get used to your lifestyle, but you need to guide him with a schedule of play time, regular exercise, feeding times and potty breaks.  It’s okay if he sleeps a little more initially but sticking to a regular program helps him to readily adapt to the flow of your household.

Training is a pleasant way to develop a strong bond with your dog, and in this environment we all should have the time to teach a pet good manners whether in the house or outside walking or playing.  Every interaction you have with your pet will help him better understand what you want and how he can quickly comply.  Make sure that you have plenty of treats available to reward good behavior and a “quiet” place if behavior is not so good.  There are many dog training videos available online.

Bringing a shelter pet into a new home seamlessly introduces unconventional love and simple happiness, and starts a relationship that just gets better and better with age. Reasonable expectations and appreciation for all the joy a dog can bring makes for a very satisfying experience and a way to practice kindness.  And one other benefit– a dog’s love gives you reason to stay close to home.

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a vet and his dogABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Brown holds a Doctorate Degree in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the University of California at Davis, a Master of Science Degree in Animal Science and Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Physiology from the University of California.  Following discharge from the Air Force as a Captain, he owned and operated the largest veterinary hospital on Cape Cod for almost twenty years. Brown is the past President of the Yavapai Humane Society Board of Directors, Branding Committee Chairman for National Animal Supplement Council and member of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  He writes and lectures frequently on the benefits of natural and organic foods and supplements for animals and lives with his wife and a Golden Doodle named Charlotte.

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