A Beginner's Guide To Adopting A Dog

Adopting a dog is a wonderful thing to do but it's not a decision that should be taken lightly. We've all seen the stickers “a dog is for life” and no truer words have ever been written. A dog becomes a valued member of a family, they need  the care and attention they deserve and when they are sick, they need to go to the vet so they get better as soon as they can. Adopting a dog means being able to offer a loyal, four legged friend, a caring loving home - for life.

Things to Consider Before You Make the Big Decision

It's all too easy to fall in love with a dog that needs rescuing and you may do so with all the best intentions. However, you really do need to ask yourself a few questions before you take the plunge and offer a needy dog a caring place in your heart. The list below consists of a few questions you need to ask yourself before you make the final decision to dog from a rescue home.

Can You Afford To Keep a Dog?

Times are hard, so you need to ask yourself whether you can afford to keep a dog – you have to think not only about the cost of the good quality food you would need to buy for them, but there's vets bills and pet insurance to think about too. Then there's the dog bed, blankets, ID tags, micro-chipping and not forgetting a few  toys – all of which are things you'll need to make sure a dog is healthy,  happy and safe.

Do You Have Enough Time To Spend With a Dog?

Dogs need lots of love and attention. They need daily exercise and it's never enough to just let them out in the back garden a couple of times a day. Dogs need physical exercise but they need mental stimulation too, and depending on the breed, some more than others!

Do You Live in a House or a Flat?

The breed and type of dog you adopt will very much depend on where you live and the type of house or apartment you live in. Some dogs make great pets to have in a flat whereas others do not – you would need to think carefully before making the right choice of dog to suit your living environment.

Does Everyone In Your Household Want a Dog?

You need to be sure that everyone in the household is keen to share their home with a dog. Remember dogs tend to shed fur on furniture, carpets and often come in wet with muddy paws! You need to be sure the whole family is prepared and willing to spend time taking care for your new dog, and this means grooming them, exercising them and most of all loving them!

What Needs Doing Before You Bring a Dog Home

The best place to start looking for a rescue dog is on the Internet narrowing your search to local dog rescue centres so that you don't have to travel too far to collect them. You can search for dogs for adoption from local rescue centres on our Pets4Homes site in the dog adoption section.  The majority of rescue centres and shelters will ask you to fill out a form so they can make sure the dog you decide to adopt has the right temperament to suit your family and home environment.

You have to bear in mind that most dogs found in shelters and rescue centres have been there for a while which means their characters, personalities, and everything to do with their health has been evaluated by the centre. This helps when it comes to finding the right home for the right dog. You will also have a visit from a member of staff who will come to your home to make sure it is a safe place for a rescue dog to be re-homed to. This is something that has to be done to ensure all dogs go to new and caring homes. Everyone who wants to adopt a dog from a rescue centre gets a visit so there's nothing to get upset or worried about.

Home Visits Explained

A home visit entails a member of staff from the rescue centre coming round to your home to make sure it's a safe environment for a dog to live in. The things they'll check include making sure the fencing around a garden is safe and secure so that a dog can't escape. Generally speaking, the inspector will check the home environment you are offering a rescue dog is a nice, caring and loving home.

The Things You Need To Get

Before you bring your dog home from the rescue centre, you will need to buy a few things which includes the following:

  • Dog food – dry and tinned, making sure the food you buy is good quality
  • Dog bowls – both for food and water
  • Dog collar and lead
  • Dog bed – including a blanket or two
  • Dog ID tag – with name and address on it which you can buy from good pet stores who may even be able to engrave them for you
  • Dog cage – for the car when travelling and in the home when training a young dog

Remember, you will need to take the collar and lead with you when you pick your dog up from the rescue centre and you should put the dog cage in the back of your car, so your new pet can travel in it on the way home so they are safe and secure.

Adopting An Adult Dog

There are many advantages to adopting an older dog, the first being you know exactly what you are getting when it comes to size and temperament. The downside is you will never really know about their past. The rescue will know where they came from and will have got to know the dog, which means they can advise you of the dog's strengths and weaknesses. The thing you have to bear in mind, is that your new pet will need lots of time to settle in their new environments and you will need to show them loads of patience until your new four legged friend understands and fits in to your routine.

The All Important First Day Home

Make sure the rescue centre has given you a report explaining the sort of diet and food your new dog has been eating. The last thing you want to do is give them an upset tummy by suddenly changing their diet.  You need to have a nice quiet home environment when you bring your dog home. If you have kids, they may be very excited at the fact a new dog is arriving, but you need to explain to them that staying calm is really important when you first arrive home with your dog.

It's a good idea to keep your new dog on a lead and if you have a garden, take them outside because the chances are they will need to relieve themselves because of all the excitement. Once they have settled down, you can let them off their leads and give them lots of attention but in a nice calm manner.

The First Few Weeks – A Period of Adjustment

The first few weeks are important, it's going to be a period of adjustment both for you, your family and your new rescued dog. It will be perfectly normal for them to feel a little confused because they won't know what's expected of them in their new home. You will need to be very patient with your new pet, and you will need to keep reassuring them that everything is okay, even if there are few accidents!

The Things You Should Watch Out For

There may be a few things that you may find a little worrying when you first bring your dog home, because initially they may be a little shy and show some anxiety as well as restlessness. They may even drink more water than usual which means they'll need to go to the toilet more  – hence a few “accidents”. Stress may cause them to have a bout of diarrhoea and they may lose their appetite. However, this is normal because everything is so new to them, but should the symptoms go on for more than a couple of days, you will need to contact your vet and take your dog along for a check-up.

Settling The Newest Family Member into Their New Home

After a week or so, your newest family member will have made your house their home. They will have understood your routine and found their feet. However, every dog is different, some may settle in very quickly whereas others may take a little longer. Sadly, some dogs never manage to settle at all, but most do and very soon you will not be able to remember what life was like without them – and the same could be said for a very grateful rescue dog - sleeping happily in their warm bed, comfortably ensconced in your home.


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