Dog Adoption and Foster Care: what to expect in those early stages

Dog Tips Jul 07, 2020

Bringing a new dog into your household can be a rewarding experience. And with many of us spending more time in the home, thanks to COVID-19, there's never been a better time to embrace pet ownership. Devoting time to help your dog settle into family life is vital in developing good doggy behaviour and an excellent opportunity for bonding with your fur-baby.

The critical thing to remember is that all dogs need and respond well to routine. So being consistent is an essential part of helping a dog adjust to a new environment. Our tips will help you navigate your way through the early stages of doggy ownership and help you nurture your pup into a happy, healthy member of your household.

Time

We've already mentioned time in the intro because giving the pooch lots of your time is super important. Going from shelter life to living in a home is a huge change, so don't despair if settling in doesn't happen immediately.

Your pup will love the time getting to know their new family and surroundings when it's done appropriately. Give them lots of opportunities to explore the house and garden.

Unfamiliar surroundings and new experiences can be exhausting for them. The shelter can be noisy and stressful too, so you can expect your dog to sleep lots, at least to begin with.

It's important not to over-stimulate your dog in the early days. Let them explore for themselves, try not to be overbearing. Let them come to you for attention and be affectionate but don't overwhelm them.

Bonding may take time, and there will be new sights, smells, and sounds to get used to. This can actually cause stress in your fur-baby, so make them comfortable and keep things calm.

Routine

Many of us are adjusting to a new type of routine during COVID-19. But dogs thrive in an established routine, so it's best to keep things as usual as possible even when you go back to work, school or your social activities. For instance, feeding, walking and bedtimes should be at the same time every day.

But this also includes games and cuddles. It's great to be able to spend heaps of time with your new pup. But if you're expecting to transition back to office work, they need to get used to some time alone now.

A consistent routine is crucial for your dog to adjust to a new home.

Patience

Time and routine are crucial, but you're also going to need lots of patience with your new family member.

Some dogs have been waiting for years for adoption, and foster dogs come from all types of backgrounds. They desperately need your patience and understanding. This can mean that developing a bond and establishing a good routine can take time. But the effort will be worth it in the long run.

Ensure that your family knows that your new fur-baby may need time to settle into the home. Each dog is unique with individual past experiences and personalities. Children should be discouraged from overwhelming the dog with attention. However, they'll probably lap it up once they feel part of the family. Explain to everyone in the household that shelter pups need them to be calm and restrained. That space of their own is particularly essential if children are too small to understand.

Diets

An upset tummy in a foster or newly adopted dog can be stress-related or due to sudden dietary changes.

Talk to your doggy rescues about foods your dog likes to eat so you can replicate the routine at home. If you do change the brand or type of food, do it slowly, introducing it mixed with their usual diet initially.

If you have an anxious pooch, you need to ensure you've taken the right steps to make your pup feel safe and secure. If diarrhea is an ongoing issue, you should consult your local vet.

Normal stress, related to a change of environment, can cause dogs to lose their appetite altogether in the short term. And You may find that your pup refuses to eat when you first bring them home. Be patient, it may take a few days before they're comfortable enough to eat their food, and this isn't generally a cause for concern. Your dog should adjust in a few days though you can try tempting them with bits of chicken or beef. If they continue to refuse food for more than a day or two, seek professional advice.

Supervise

If you're concerned about your dog being destructive while you're out of the home, crate training a great option. Introduce your dog to this slowly and gently. It should be a safe and positive space for your dog to spend time. When introduced properly, a doggy crate can be a relaxing area for your dog. A space of calm.

But remember not to leave your pet alone all day. If you have to be away every day for more than a few hours, it's a good idea to get a dog walker or join a doggy daycare.

Training

You and your pooch won't immediately be on the same schedule. So be prepared for a few toileting accidents in the initial weeks of being a fur-parent.

There are products on the market to aid with toilet training. But make sure you take them out often in the beginning to decrease the chance of accidents, and you'll find a toileting routine in no time at all.

Space

Give your new family member their own space to retreat to. A clean dog bed with a favourite toy or blanket in a quiet area of the house is an excellent place for a pooch to withdraw to. Dogs need a little 'me time' just like their humans. And this can be particularly important in a new environment, particularly in households with smaller, more excitable children.

Give your fur-baby treats and activities to keep them entertained. It's an excellent way to build trust, particularly if a dog is feeling unsure of his new surroundings. Having something fun, yummy and just for him in his own space will help develop his sense of trust in his new family.

Escapee

Initially, you'll need to keep your dog leashed when you go outside. In unfamiliar environments, some dogs will run away. Be confident enough to know that your dog will come, stay and stop on command before you let them run anywhere off-leash.

It's also necessary to supervise them in the garden, to begin with. You may think your fences will keep a pooch contained, but dogs are excellent jumpers and even better diggers. They'll likely stop digging and jumping once they feel safe and secure at their new home. But if escaping is a persistent problem, your dog might need some structured training from a professional.

Anxiety

Anxiety can often be the root of many puppy behavioural issues. And the slow introduction to new people and things can help lessen stress.

It's the same principle for new places too and another good reason to keep your pooch on a leash at the park or beach in the initial stages of adoption or foster care. At least until your dog is comfortable in their new home and around you and your family.

The bottom line

Whether you're fostering a puppy or adopting an older dog, you need to give these pooches some time to settle in and develop healthy behaviours. Of course, how much time and patience you need will depend on your pups personality and unique past experience. But our tips will help make the transition easier on both your dog and your family. While also helping you develop a loving bond with your new pet.

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