What to do After Adoption
Bringing a new pet into your home is always exciting. It’s the beginning of what we hope will be a long and joyous journey.
You should keep in mind that adding an addition to your family is going to take some getting used to. As a responsible new owner, there are many things that can be done on your part to ensure that this initial transition period goes smoothly. Dogs will require much more adjustment time than cats, but even the most loving shelter kitty will feel stress and insecurity in a new environment.
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Don't rush your new pet...
Give your new pet time to get accustomed to the new surroundings. If you have a new doog, use treats to encourage it, but don’t be discouraged if it takes several attempts before your pet will let a new person get close. Give your new pooch plenty of time to inspect the house and yard on its own. Show your new pet where food and water bowls will be kept, where it is allowed to sleep, and where the toys are located. Take the dog around the yard and let it get familiar with the outdoor area surrounding your home.
If you've brought home a new cat, it may hide behind furniture or under a bed at first. Don’t be alarmed. This is not unusual. It is the cat’s way to find a safe, secure haven when it's scared. Don’t rush the animal or worry that it will not come out to eat or use the litter box. The cat will come out when it is ready, usually when you least expect it.
With a new cat, show it where food and water will be kept. Take the cat to the litter box and place gently into it. Usually all it takes is one or two forced visits to the litter box before your kitty will go to it on its own.
Keep things calm for the first day or two...
Try to keep noise and activity levels lower than usual for the first day or two. Supervise all interactions with children and other pets. When introducing your dog to new people, have the dog on a leash and instruct everyone to allow the dog to smell them and to gently move their hand down so that the dog can approach their hand. The proper hand position should be a closed fist, thumb inside, palm down. By making slow, patient introductions to new people, your dog will adjust in a much more accepting manner.
Because of the independent nature of the feline species, your cat will come out to meet new people when it decides to do it – and usually will find a warm spot right on the lap of the one non-cat person in the room! To avoid adding stress to the situation, it is better to place your cat in a closed room until company leaves.
Be sure to get only “good toys”...
Before you rush out and buy toys for your new pet, please be sure to get only “good toys”. For dogs, they are sterilized bones, Kong’s, hard balls (properly sized for your dog) and the buster cube. “Bad toys” are rawhide, cloth toys (especially with bells, squeakers, eyes or other parts that could get lodged in the dog’s throat), tug-of-war type toys and latex or rubber toys that can easily be torn apart and ingested.
Most cats enjoy catnip toys, but you must take caution that the kind you buy cannot be easily shredded and ingested.
It will take a few weeks to set up a regular routine for your pet. Establishing a consistent feeding and walking schedule makes your pet feel secure and settled. It will set the desired behavior for the future because the pet knows what is expected from the very first day.
Building a relationship...
In the beginning, encourage your dog to take a food treat from your hand. Repeatedly reach down to pet the dog with one hand, and give the treat with the other. Praise the dog all the time. At first, reach down very slowly and pet him gently. As the dog feels more comfortable, you may reach down more quickly and pet vigorously. The goal is for the dog to associate a rapidly approaching hand with praise and treats.
Utilize a training crate...
We strongly encourage you to utilize a training crate to help your new dog adjust. If used properly, they are a safe haven for your dog. The crate will keep your pet safe while you are not at home, and ensure it learns good manners concerning destructive chewing and housetraining.
Housetraining your new dog...
Housetraining your new dog can be a frustrating experience for both the owner and the dog. Keep in mind that a shelter animal has had to “do his business” inside a kennel out of necessity and does not differentiate between his old home and his new one. Many adult shelter dogs have had some housetraining in the past and will quickly relearn it. Crating your dog when you are not with him is an excellent method of housetraining. With the proper sized crate, the dog will not soil inside the crate and will associate going outside with defecation and urination. Too small a crate will be too confining, but too large a crate presents problems as well.
Sign up for obedience classes...
We strongly encourage you to sign up for obedience classes. These classes are fun for humans as well as dogs! You will learn positive training techniques that will create communication between you and your pet, resulting in a well-behaved dog and a happy owner. This is a requirement for many of our larger breeds, and a definite “must do” for anyone taking a puppy into their home. Several trainers in our area offer a discount on the cost of classes for RVSPCA adoptees. Be sure to ask us for a list of recommended trainers in our area.
As with any training, consistency is key. Establish a regular routine of feeding, going outside and exercise and your dog will quickly learn what is expected of him/her. It is best to discuss any housetraining issues with your veterinarian or the RVSPCA Behaviorist/Trainer as soon as they arise to avoid any long-term problems.
Our goal at the RVSPCA is to have every animal placed in a long-term, loving home. By following these simple steps, you can be sure your adventure starts out on the right foot…or paw!