Just because you had a positive experience in general doesn’t necessarily mean that it was the right decision. New dogs require attention, emotional and physical support and new financial obligations. Kristi Littrell is the adoption manager at Best Friends Animal Society. She says that pets aren’t an accessory or a fashion statement. Dogs are feeling, living creatures that are part of your family.
You need to make this change in your life with fairness to your dog, yourself and the rest of your family. While you are going through your dog adoption, you should never do any of these six things.
Do not base your decision solely on breed
Littrell says that one of the most common mistakes made by people pre-adoption is deciding what kind of dog they are looking for before meeting them. She says that dogs should be treated individually, and not too focused on their breed. Take the time to learn about the dog that you’re considering.
There are certain breeds that share traits. Golden Retrievers may be friendly. German Shepherds are known to be very protective. Bulldogs tend to be easygoing. These aren’t hard-and-fast rules. People who have certain expectations and adopt a pet based on their personality may be disappointed.
Littrell suggests that you take the dog on a stroll, interact with it, and ask the person who is taking care of him/her what they think. You can never be sure of how the dog will act in a different environment. However, by interacting with them, you are able to see if your personalities match, and that is important for a positive experience.
Do not rush the adjustment period
Adoption by a new family can be a positive experience for 95 percent of the dogs. However, it is also a major life-changing event for all 100 percent. Littrell says, “You have just turned the world of their dog upside down.” Dogs require time to adapt and establish a new routine.
It’s very easy to become frustrated with your dog during its first weeks. However, you should try to see the situation from his or her perspective. Give him/her time to adapt. You should give your dog the time to adjust and explore its surroundings, whether it is a female or male. Littrell notes that this is particularly true when dogs are entering a house with pets.
What is the minimum time you should wait to become concerned with the inability of an animal to adjust? Littrell: “I ask that adopters give their animal at least one month to adjust, provided no harm is done.” Contact a positive trainer if necessary.
Don’t Adopt a Puppy If You Work Crazy Hours
Which is better, an older dog or a puppy? This is one of the most important questions that new adopters must consider. No objective right answer exists. Your lifestyle and preferences will determine the answer. The older dogs may have more health problems and require higher expenses. However, they are likely to need less daily management. Puppies, on the other hand, will probably be with you longer, but need a lot training and attention–especially early on in their lives.
Littrell suggests that people working long hours who don’t know anyone who could help them raise a puppy at work should consider getting an older dog. She says that puppies need a lot of socialization in order to become healthy adults. They also require potty breaks at least every couple of hours.
Don’t Miss Your Heartworm Follow-up Test
Meeting with a veterinarian shortly after adopting a dog is a must, says Dr. Nicole Breda, lead veterinarian for Boston Veterinary Care at the Animal Rescue League of Boston, in order to assess overall health and establish a baseline for future tests. You’ll also want to have a fecal test done to check for intestinal parasites, as well as routine bloodwork that will evaluate cell counts and kidney and liver health.
Breda says a heartworm test is another must. “Heartworm disease is spread by infected mosquitos when they bite a dog. However, it takes up to six months from infection to show up positive on this test,” she says.
That means a follow-up is necessary six months later (and every year after that) to make sure nothing was missed the first time around. And you really don’t want to skip that follow-up. “If a dog is infected with heartworms, the treatment can be very costly, and without catching the disease early, it could be deadly,” Breda says.
Do not let your dog run around the house.
Breda claims that many new dog owners view crating their dogs as cruel. Although it is true that dogs tend to be happier when allowed to run around and are with their owners, crate training them before you go for the day can make a big difference.
She says that she sees young dogs ingesting things which can lead to an intestinal obstruction. I also observe them ingesting medication or toxic substances when left unattended.
Do not adopt a dog without knowing you want to.
Adopting a pet dog may seem like an easy decision, but many people prefer the thought of doing so to the actual experience.
Breda recommends making a checklist of what you want in a dog. You can bring your list to the shelter so that they may match you up with an animal that fits all of your requirements. She says that the biggest mistake she sees potential adopters make is to fall in love with an adorable dog that they find on a web page without realizing it may not fit their needs.
Littrell says that you might be able to foster a dog at some shelters. This is a way for you to get to know the dog and how it interacts with your family.