Are you looking for unconditional love and a devoted companion? Adopting a dog is an incredible way to save a life while gaining a four-legged friend. However, bringing a dog into your life is also a big decision that will have a lasting impact. We spoke with Emily Kerylow, the Director of Operations of the Monadnock Humane Society in Swanzey, NH, to determine what potential adopters should consider as well as her tips for a smooth transition bringing your new dog into your home.
The Dog for You
There are many things to consider when adopting a dog. “I always tell people, the family should agree on what type of personality will fit in with their family’s lifestyle. If your family is consistently outdoors and active, with lots of hiking, running, etc., a higher energy dog may be a good fit,” Emily explains. “If the family works much of the day, a couch potato pup may be a better option.”
It is also important to think about how you want to include the dog in their life. Do you want a dog that you can bring to barbecues and family outings? If so, you will want to ensure that you adopt an outgoing puppy or a well-socialized older dog. “Learning a dog’s personality and considering how it fits into their household is key,” Emily says.
You should also consider your dog handling experience. If you are a new dog owner or have a busy household, you may not have the skills or time to adopt a dog with behavioral issues.
Thoughtfully ensure that you have the knowledge and training experience to be able to work with the dog that you have selected. Talk with the shelter staff to help you determine which dogs would work with your family; they want you to have a successful adoption experience and will work with you to find a dog that fits into your family.
“Many people have an idea in their heads about what they want their new dog to look like or act like, but many times people end up connecting with a dog that is completely different from those expectations – and that’s a good thing!” Emily exclaims. “Every animal is different, and while you had a great relationship with your last dog of the same breed, another dog of that same breed will bring a different personality to your new relationship.” Always keep an open mind, you may be looking for a puppy to bring home and instead end up falling in love with an older animal that is just the perfect fit for your home.
The Adoption Process
Available animals are traditionally listed on the shelter’s website and members of the public are encouraged to call, email, or come in to get more information on an animal they may be interested in. “At the Monadnock Humane Society (MHS), we would give the potential adopter all the information we had on the animal and encourage the whole family to come in and meet with the animal to make the decision on adoption,” explains Emily. “In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this has become a slightly more difficult process. Most of our animals are now in foster care, some of those foster homes will end up keeping their foster, some will go up for adoption. We are currently still working out the logistics of what the next phase of our adoption program will look like with the goal of getting animals into their permanent homes soon!”
When meeting the potential dogs, spending time getting to know their unique personalities is important. You may connect with a dog immediately, or it may take a little while before the dog begins to feel comfortable with you. Be sure to talk with the shelter staff regarding the dog’s habits and traits; they will be able to give you additional insight about the dog.
After you have selected a dog, the shelter staff will work with you to make certain that this is a good fit for your family. This is especially important if you are bringing your new dog home to a multi-dog household. “If you’re adding a dog to your already dog-owning family, we will schedule a dog-to-dog introduction appointment. Meeting for the first time on neutral ground helps the dogs get to know each other,” says Emily. “Our professional staff can counsel you about how to ensure your new addition is a success. If for some reason, we think our dog is not a good match for your family, we’ll explain why and help you find a dog who can fit better into your household.”
Adoption Shopping List
Before you bring your new friend home, there are a number of canine supplies that you will need. We have compiled a comprehensive list of everything we suggest you have when adopting a dog. Some items, like bowls, collars, and beds, should be purchased after you choose a dog to ensure that they are the appropriate size.
- Dog food (Learn what your dog was eating at the shelter and slowly transition to your dog food of choice once he or she has settled in)
- Dog food storage containers
- Food and water bowls
- Dog carrier or crate
- Dog bed
- Dog shampoo
- Brush or comb (depending on the coat of your new dog)
- Nail clippers
- Canine toothbrush and toothpaste
- Variety of dog toys
- Variety of dog treats
- Canine first aid supplies
- Dog gate(s)
- Identification tag with your phone number
- House-training pee pads
- Plastic poop bags
- Cleaning supplies (cleansers, odor neutralizers, scrub brushes, paper towels, etc.)
Home Sweet Home
Bringing your new dog home can be an exciting time, but frankly it can also be stressful for the dog. “The best thing you can do is give your newly adopted animal time, space, and consistency,” explains Emily. “Each animal is an individual and will settle in at a different time. Some shyer animals take weeks or even months before they are truly comfortable in their new home.”
The transition from the shelter into your home can be hard, even for the most confident animal, so allow them to explore their new home at their own pace. It may make sense to restrict the dog to a smaller portion of your house to allow them to become comfortable in their new space. “Crates or baby gates can also be good tools for your new dog. Some dogs find comfort in having their own space so whether that is a crate or smaller area, like the kitchen,” Emily says.
Refrain from taking your newly adopted animal to your friend’s house or a baseball game in the first few days, since this can be overwhelming to many animals. It is also important to try to come up with a routine that works for your family that you can stick with, because animals are more comfortable when they know what to expect. Emily continues, “Once they develop their relationship with you and are comfortable in their new surroundings, then you can expand their experiences as appropriate for that individual animal.”
If things don’t go as planned when you bring your new dog home, stay calm. It may take several weeks for your dog to become comfortable. If you have questions or concerns regarding the behavior of the dog, it is important to communicate with the shelter directly. They are familiar with your new dog and have experience with the transition process; the shelter wants your adoption to be a success!
When you open your heart and your home to a rescue dog, you are gaining a loyal companion and friend. Many of our staff members have incredible rescue dogs who have quickly wiggled their way into all of our hearts. Have you ever rescued a dog? We would love to hear all about it! Leave your rescue story below in the comments section.