Animal Matters column: Make adopting a dog a happy not a stressful time

You've decided to adopt a dog. You can't wait to get it home and it's going to be so happy!

Well, maybe. Change can be very difficult for dogs, even good change, so you’ll need to think about how to introduce a dog into your home.

Consider the age of the dog.

Senior dogs could have special health issues. Adolescent dogs test boundaries and need strong guidance. Mature dogs will be used to a partiࢢcular lifestyle and will need ࢢtime to adjust.

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Whatever your dog’s age, you have to consider its needs and help it adapt to its new environment.

Before you bring the dog into the house take it for a walk. This will help to relax it.

You should be calm when introducing the dog to your home.

Bring the dog into the house on-lead and let it start exploring one room at a tiࢢme. Your dog will want to smell everything, so let it – it’s a good way to learn about its new home. Then allow it to explore off-lead one room at a ࢢtime.

It may then want to sleep – it’s important to let it and to leave it alone.

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The dog will be exhausted from exploring this new place and disturbing it can make it feel stressed.

It is important that the whole family understands this, especially children.

Expect odd behaviour. Dogs that are normally actiࢢve may become subdued, while dogs that are normally quiet may pace and whine. A dog might urinate or hide under a table.

However, some dogs are totally relaxed about it all and take it in their stride.

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Whatever reactiࢢon a dog shows, don’t get angry or try to force it.

Being in a new place can be scary to a dog.

If it tries to hide, don’t try to drag it out.

Give it tiࢢme to relax and find its own way.

Establish ground rules from day one because dogs need clarity (eg if you don’t want the dog to sit on the furniture, never let it) and be careful not to let the dog ‘rule the roost’ because you could end up with a tyrant!

Lisa Tenzin-Dolma has written an excellent guide on this topic which covers what you need to do in detail – please read it.

It’s available to download free from Adopting a Rescue Dog.

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