The Joys and Challenges of a New Pup!
Bringing home a new dog is an exciting and joyful experience, both because of the wonderful companionship that dogs give to their owners and because it is meaningful to know that one is providing a happy, healthy life for an animal.
Adopting a new dog is an important decision because any dog is going to require patience and work throughout their lifetime. Newly adopted animals can experience challenges during the first weeks in a new home, and it can take up to three months for a dog to become fully acclimated in a new environment. However, the time and work that pet owners put in to help their new dog adjust to their new life are rewarded by a dog's unconditional love and companionship.
Breanna Herbert, the kennel manager at LCHS, has plenty of experience with rehabilitating dogs at the shelter, and she said that the dogs who have more challenges when they arrive often show the greatest loyalty to their rescuers. "It's almost as if they understand that you were the one who took the time to get past their problems and get to know them to their core," Herbert said. "It is also pretty self-rewarding to look at a dog and know that you put in so much work and morphed it into the incredible being it now is."
The Myth of the Perfect Dog
Dog training products and programs often advertise creating a "perfect dog," and while training can be highly effective, even the best-trained dogs make mistakes. Just as no one person is free of weaknesses, no dog is perfect either. Even a dog that seems ideal at the time of adoption can have issues later. "I think no matter where, when, or how you get a dog, it will never be legitimately 'perfect,'" Herbert said. "There will always be something that arises (medical or behavior), whether it is two days, two months, or five years down the road."
While any dog may have problems, it is essential to select a dog with a temperament that is compatible with your lifestyle. Dogs who have an instinctive prey drive should never go into a home with a cat or small animal. High-energy dogs who love to engage in rough play with other dogs shouldn't go into homes with reserved dogs who don't like to play in that manner.
When I adopted my dog, I knew that he was great with cats, which was my number one factor in deciding that he was an excellent fit for my family. He was also mostly potty trained, though it took a day or two for him to remember his potty training. The biggest issue that we had to work to overcome was his fear of strangers we would encounter on walks. My dog expressed this fear by barking and growling, while also shivering with fear. I used resources from the Best Friends Animal Society and advice from our shelter staff to condition him to be less fearful.
Because dogs need to go into homes that are the best fit for them as individuals, LCHS and other shelters spend a great deal of time getting to know the animals in our care. At the shelter, we have playgroups each day to socialize our dogs and learn more about how they interact with other dogs. By taking notes about playgroup behaviors, we help families who already have a dog decide who would be the best fit. We also recommend meet-and-greets between the current canine family members and any potential new additions to the family.