Your friendship with your new dog is special ...
A wagging tail when you get a break or are home from work, and a dog’s unconditional love, can really make life better! You enrich their life, too—not only with your love and attention, but also by meeting all of your dog’s physical, mental, and emotional health needs.
Here are some tips to help keep your new dog healthy and thriving, right from the start…
1. Set up a safe space.
Even though your home is a safe and loving environment for your new dog—and he or she will learn the rules of the home with time—right now everything is new to them.
Some dogs adapt quickly, while others may take several weeks. Either way, it’s good to create a “safe space” for them.
A safe space is somewhere they can go to be alone until they’re ready to explore—a place where they feel secure and can hide if they want to.
If you have a quiet room for your new dog, set up their supplies in the room and let that be their private space.
A dog crate also works well as a safe space—when outfitted with a bed or soft blanket, a crate looks like a comfy den to your dog.
Besides acting as a personal space that’s all their own, a safe space is also a way to ensure your curious dog won’t get into anything they shouldn’t when you can’t supervise them directly.
In other words, a safe space can contain your dog and help you avoid mishaps such as your dog getting into the garbage… your pup chewing on an electrical cord… or your favorite purse or shoes turning into a dog chew toy.
Simply close the crate or block off the room with a baby gate when you can’t supervise your dog directly. Be sure they have all needed supplies available, and try to not leave for more than a few hours at a time in your early days together.
2. Transition slowly to a new high-quality food.
A change to a new type of food—no matter how healthy the food is—can result in stomach upset or diarrhea if the change is done too quickly.
So, if possible, you’ll want to make the transition to a new food slowly. If you know what type of food your dog was receiving prior to the adoption, continue that for now, and gradually add in an increasing percentage of the new food. At each proportion wait for two firm stools, back to back, before progressing forward.
This can be done in one of two ways…
1. Mix the old food and new food together. Start with approximately 75% old and 25% new. Wait for two firm stools, back to back, and then once achieved, switch the proportion to 50/50. Again, wait for two firm stools, back to back, and then continue to 25/75. After that, offer 100% new food.
2. Set the old food and new food side by side in two bowls, allowing your pup to nibble on some of each. Once they warm up to the new food, you can gradually decrease the amount of the old food you offer.
If you need help, our friends at Dee-O-Gee are a great resource!
3. Plan for your dog's veterinary care.
When you adopt a pet, it’s a good idea to bring them to a veterinarian within the first 1-2 weeks.
If you received an adoption packet from the adoption organization, check for local veterinarian recommendations—sometimes, you’ll even find coupons or free exam offers as a thank you for rescuing a pet in need (there may be a time limit, so be sure to check and schedule accordingly).
Your Dog’s First Vet Visit
A veterinarian visit helps to confirm your new dog is healthy, and to establish them as a patient of that veterinarian in case you need to call with any questions in the future.
If your pet has a cough, vomiting, diarrhea, or any other symptoms, the veterinarian may want to see them in person or prescribe treatment.
If your pup is doing well, the veterinarian may recommend waiting on your first visit.
Either way, their advice will be in the best interest of your pet’s health, and your health.
Many adopted dogs are up to date on vaccines, at least on “core vaccines” (vaccines recommended for all dogs regardless of lifestyle) like Rabies and the Distemper combo. But, due to limited funds, not every shelter or rescue organization can do this.
When in doubt, check with veterinarian your to see which vaccines your dog needs. This may include a booster shot, or a lifestyle-based vaccine like Kennel Cough for dogs who will be groomed or go to dog parks.
If your pup’s vaccines are already finished, the veterinarian team will update your dog’s record to send a reminder next year, which makes it easy to stay on schedule.
Even if your pup received a deworming and flea control from the shelter, you’ll need to continue prevention as part of your pup’s home routine.
Your veterinarian will let you know which products they recommend and how to use them.
These things should get you and your new dog off to a great start!
Cherish these special days getting to know your dog—have fun, take lots of pictures, and enjoy plenty of cuddle time!
4. Find some new toys!
Most veterinarians will recommend having some new toys to engage with your new pup.
The WO Wild USA-made plush toys will work great for your dog to chew on and snuggle with.
WO Play USA-made durable toys (Ball, Bone or Disc) are great toys for engaging with your dog in the backyard or at the dog park.