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Local rescue shares 6 ways to ensure a successful dog adoption

Adopting a pup? These tips will help make sure the process runs smoothly from start to finish.

Adopting a dog can be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do, but along with the abundance of joy and love welcoming a new furry family member will bring, there also comes a lot of responsibility.

If you're preparing to adopt a dog, or have just welcomed a rescue dog into your family, it's important to remember that it can take weeks, or even months for your new addition to fully adjust to your new life together.

By adopting, you're giving a dog a second chance at the wonderful life that they deserve, and as well as being patient, there are steps you can take from the very beginning of your journey together to ensure the process is a success for you both.

For 'Adopt a Shelter Dog Month', we asked Mike Edwards, co-founder of Vancouver-based About A Dog Rescue Society, to share 6 of the best tips to ensure a successful dog adoption.

1. Train your new dog

One of the best things you can do to ensure a successful dog adoption is to start training straight away. Beginning training early will help you create a bond with your new dog, help you understand the way they learn and think and create a great foundation for the future.

"Training starts from the very first moment you have them, so create a vocabulary that everyone will use to prevent confusion and help your dog learn commands quicker," suggest Edwards.

Sarah Pennington, a BC SPCA-recommended AnimalKind trainer, advises dog owners to look for the words 'positive reinforcement', 'reward-based methods' or 'humane training methods' on websites when choosing a dog trainer.

“In order to help your dog, reward them for what they do right. If you want to see more of a behaviour, then reward it with a tasty treat," explains Pennington.

2. Create a safe space for your dog

Creating a safe, cozy space for your new addition where they can retreat to is a great way to help a rescue dog decompress and settle in to their new environment, and should be prepared before you bring your new pup home.

"Give your dog a safe space and introduce them to it right away so they can get used to it," explains Edwards. "A crate with a bed or blankets in the room is a great start and it should be close to the family, but in a place where they feel secure."

3. Ask questions

To help your dog settle into their new life with you, Edwards advises taking the steps needed to understand them sooner rather than later, and this starts by asking questions to the people who know them best.

"Ask as many questions as possible to the rescue or shelter staff about your dogs personality, fears, likes and social skills," explains Edwards. "It's important to understand your new pup as much as possible to make the transition to their new home as easy as you can for you both."

If you're unsure what questions to ask the shelter you're adopting from, Dog Time suggests that these four examples are a good place to start:

- Why is the dog here?

- Does the dog have any known medical issues?

- What’s the best thing about this dog?- What’s the worst thing about this dog?

- Has the dog been temperament tested?

4. Don't rush to introduce new people

Of course you're excited to show off your adorable new pup to your friends and family, but according to Edwards, it's best to give it some time before introducing them to new people.

"It's important to give your new dog some time to acclimatize to your home and to their new family, before introducing them to new people," explains Edwards. "You don't want to overwhelm or scare your new pup, so wait to introduce family members, and when you do, introduce the, calmly and one at a time, and always read your dog's body language."

5. Keep things quiet for a few days

It may be tempting to try to create lots of excitement for your new pup in the first few days, but to give them the best chance to settle in, and give you the best chance to get to know them better, try to keep things uneventful.

"Remain calm and quiet around your dog for the first few days, and spend some quality one-on-one time getting to know your new family member instead," suggests Edwards. "For those first couple of days together, try to limit excitement like visits to the dog park or inviting your friends over."

If you have children, to keep excitement levels down, be sure to explain that they need to give their new dog some space for a little while.

6. Be patient

Perhaps most important of all is to be patient. Your new dog doesn't know you yet, and they are dealing with a lot of big changes. It will take time for a rescue dog to decompress, and even longer to begin to learn their new routine, so give them plenty of time and don't rush things.

"Patience, being consistent, staying calm, and offering compassion allows your new dog to form a bond and build trust," explains Edwards. "This will allow them to become themselves and you will see their personality come out more and more over a short time."


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