Dog adoption is a big decision for any family. There are pros and cons, as with any major life decision, and this one will affect your family for the next 10 to 15 years.
Especially for puppies, you will need to set up strategic plans to prevent unwanted behaviors like counter surfing (stealing food), teething/chewing, jumping up, and not walking nicely on leash. For all dogs, make rules, and stick to them.
If you adopt
an adolescent or young adult dog, they typically have high energy and will need
at least one to two hours of outdoor time with you every day; this means leash
walking or playing fetch in the yard. Just because you have a big yard to let
them out in, dogs cannot be expected to exercise by themselves. They are social
and need family time to learn house rules and how to fit in.
Build a Relationship
A perk of adopting
an older dog is that the adoption center staff will be able to tell you more
about their personality and habits. This gives you building blocks for creating
a good relationship and a solid plan for tackling basic manners and skills.
What Do You Expect?
When you are looking for the perfect pet, ask yourself these questions:
- What are my deal breakers?
- Are there any behaviors I can’t handle?
- Is there a behavior that I feel really good about managing?
For example, those fence jumping dogs may do well in apartment homes, where they will have walks instead of yard time. Some people don’t mind dogs who alert bark, and others are great at teaching dogs the difference between chew toys and furniture.
- How much time can I commit to training and exercise?
Don’t expect kids or spouses to do all the exercise, even if they promised they would. The entire family should share pet responsibilities.
Ease the Transition
What do you do if your perfect dog turns out to be less than perfect? Many dogs are traumatized by their homeless experience. They could have been on the street for days or weeks, possible starved or abused. The adoption center environment can also be stressful. It usually takes a few weeks before a dog really starts to settle into their new home. You may begin to see problem behaviors that were not apparent before. The “settling in” period can be a little rough for some families, but that is no reason to lose hope and give up.
Help Us Help You
The Washington Humane Society (WHS) wants to help you post-adoption. WHS staff can answer questions about behavior and training, and they can recommend animal service professionals, such as dog trainers, groomers, and walkers, who offer discounts to new WHS adopters.
In the Works
WHS is in the process of starting a follow-up program, in which families will receive at least one post-adoption follow-up call to address any concerns and help to solve them.
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