8 Tips for First-Time Dog Owner and Adopter

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Taking care of a dog is a really amazing experience. Dogs teach us patience, unconditional love, and loyalty. They know how to simply be happy and how to see the joy in really basic things. 

Thank you dogs for being the best life coaches and the best inspiration for people! We are better because of you!

There are mainly two ways to introduce a dog to your life. You can either buy a puppy or adopt a dog from a shelter. No doubt that adopting and rescuing a dog can be more challenging than buying a puppy. You need to prepare yourself and your family that it won’t be a piece of cake because these dogs have very often really difficult past behind them. 

However, it is worth every minute which you will dedicate to learn and to prepare because there is no better feeling than to see gratefulness for a new life in the eyes of your dog. With adoption, you will get a friend who will always be grateful that you changed his life for the better.   

Adoption demands not only a good preparation in theory but also a lot of compassion, empathy, and a big heart ready to love a dog with its history. The very sad truth is that animal shelters are constantly overcrowded with lonely and abandoned dogs and cats. Nowadays, more and more people treat animals like a toy or a gift and after a while, they get rid of these poor creatures. It’s impossible to give homes to all these animals, however, you can be someone who will at least have a chance to change one life. You cannot adopt all homeless dogs but you can adopt one (or more if you have a big house and a lot of time), and with this one adoption, you will change someone’s life forever. How to prepare yourself for adopting a dog

1.  If you have a chance to walk the dog in the shelter before the adoption, do not hesitate and do it.

It’s a great method to meet your potential new dog and to check if he feels safe with you. Being taken from the shelter to complete strangers is very stressful for the dog. Remember that these dogs survived a lot of traumas like abandonment, loneliness, homelessness, and violence. We know that you don’t want to add another trauma to his life. That’s why it’s a good idea to go to the shelter a few times and walk the dog, to become familiar with each other. Literally, break the ice before the adoption.

2. Be ready to change your daytime schedule.

If you have never had a dog before, you need to be aware that animal needs a lot of your time and attention. It’s not enough to walk your dog 3 times a day for 15 minutes and give him food.
If you start your work in the morning, you must be prepared to wake up at least 40 minutes earlier than usual to have time for your dog. Also, it’s good to go for a long afternoon walk and to give your dog a proper amount of physical exercise, even when you are tired after a hard day at work. Very often it’s not you, but the dog, who set your morning and evening routine.

3. Puppy is like a little baby.

If you plan to adopt a puppy, be aware that this little and very sweet pet needs your care and attention just like a newborn baby. In the beginning, a puppy cannot be left completely alone.
He is frightened, very fragile and vulnerable. 

Moreover, a puppy needs your attention also at night. If you work from 9 to 5, you need to be aware that there will be some sleepless nights. Don’t be angry with your dog because he wakes you up in the middle of the night.

You have an important meeting the next day but a puppy cry all night or wants to play with you? Sorry, there is no other way than to survive this stage. It’s worth it and I promise, it won’t stay like this forever.

4. Find a veterinarian near you.

Dogs need doctor care just like people do. It is your responsibility to look after the vaccination schedule, observe every alarming sign and symptom which demands professional help and take good care of your dog’s health. A good vet will also recommend to you the best pet food and vitamins for your dog. 

5. Read, research and do not afraid to ask. There are no stupid questions about dogs.

The internet is a great source of knowledge especially online forums where all dog owners share their experiences. But not only the internet. There are a lot of books about dogs which prepare you to be a dog owner. Also, do not get afraid to ask your friends, family and other people who have already adopted a dog from the shelter. They know exactly how to behave and what to do in order to run the adoption process with as little difficulties as possible.

6. Contact with a dog behaviourist is always a good idea. 

Animal behaviourists are people who will find a solution for very difficult situations. If potentially, your dog won’t be able to stay alone at home for a few months after the adoption because of the anxiety. Or he will destroy furniture, will be aggressive towards people and other animals, consultation with a dog behaviourist can be very helpful and beneficial both for you and for the dog. You can also consult a behaviourist before the adoption to resolve your doubts.

7. Be patient. 

Both you and the dog need time to meet and to love each other. Sometimes it takes days, sometimes months. But you need to give your dog as much time to adjust as possible. Do not speed up this period. It can be frustrating sometimes because dogs from the shelter have difficulties to trust another human. They remember their past, sad events when the previous owner was perhaps aggressive, abusive or violent.

Although trust takes time, every new day of dog’s love is worth waiting. Also, if you take your dog from the shelter by car, it is very possible that the pet will have car sickness. You cannot shout at the dog or show your irritation outside. It’s already an extremely stressful experience for the animal. Even though the shelter is not a dream home, he spent there some time and now its life will change completely. Give it some time.

8. Do not overwhelm the dog.

Yes, it’s difficult especially if you have a big heart full of love and you see this poor, lonely creature you just want to hug. Be aware, however, that people have different needs than dogs. We need more body contact, hugging and touching. 

The dog can feel overwhelmed, especially at the beginning of your new life together. He can miss the old environment, where people gave him food and shelter, and also he can miss the shelter carers and other dogs. Give him space to meet you and your family, to feel safe and secure at your house, and to see that you don’t plan to hurt him. When he will be ready for more physical contact, he will give you a sign. 

Adopting a dog can be much easier when you prepare yourself for this experience. Make sure that you are ready to sacrifice your time, attention, love and also money for the dog. We believe that you will never regret your decision about the adoption and that you and your dog will lead a happy and amazing life together!

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