The COVID Puppy Phenomenon is real, as evidenced by the empty cages in your local shelters and miles-long waiting lists at reputable breeders. Maybe you thought about getting a puppy yourself, but then realized that there are just so many adult dogs desperately waiting for a home that you decided it was time to let one steal your heart and take a spot on your couch.
Adopting an Adult Dog
Congratulations, you did the right thing, but you might be facing some unexpected challenges and for that we’d like to offer some advice and support. You deserve it! Adopting an adult dog is a very different experience from a puppy adoption, as puppies tend to come with a little less baggage and few ingrained bad habits. Fortunately, adult dogs can thrive under your care and leadership plus adult dog adoptees tend to understand how lucky they are and show their appreciation in many warm and tender ways.
Stress and Poor Behavior
When adopting an adult dog, you’ll learn that your new family member has had life experiences that you may never know about, and some of those experiences may not have been so great. In the best of cases the older dog has just lost a stable home and loving family which is no easier for dogs to adjust to than it is for humans. Animals show stress in a number of ways, such as chewing things they aren’t supposed to, so it’s important to recognize what’s going on. Love and understanding will help both of you deal with the stressful adjustment.
You, as their new leader and confidant, must put in the effort to make sure there’s a feeling of safety, love and being part of the “pack.” This can be accomplished simply by showing a great deal of leadership and affection during the initial adjustment and training processes. Which brings us to…
Old Dog, New Tricks
Training your new-to-you adult dog is absolutely as important as training a puppy, since the previous life Fido lived has almost certainly produced some habits that need to be unlearned and redirected. The training process should be disciplined, regular, and understanding, with lots of rewards for jobs well done. Again, this is part of a huge life upheaval for your dog, and it is crucial for you to remember that while your patience gets tested, you understand that your dog is simply trying to adjust to a new life. Just like you are!
Exercise is Key
As with a new puppy, the best thing you can do for your adult dog adoptee is to ensure there’s enough outside time for moving around. If you live in an area that allows dogs to safely roam off leash, once you feel comfortable in your dog’s responsiveness to the “come” command, outdoor time is one of the best ways to get rid of deep seated “zoomies.” If you don’t feel safe with off leash exercise, then at least get out for walks as often as possible. Not only will this help your dog stay strong and healthy it will ease the stressful energy that may cause poor behavior in the home.
Buena Doggie Social Club
Another fantastic activity for your new family member is socializing with other dogs but we don’t recommend public dog parks. In most cases these parks are more about humans socializing with each other and generally there is little or no supervision for the dogs. This can cause behavioral issues long term. On the other hand, doggy daycare facilities have more skilled workers overlooking the play and body language. They also evaluate dogs before they are allowed to be in groups, all of which sets the dogs up to succeed.
With all that we have gone over here, the most important thing to remember is that you have brought a new life into your home and into your heart, and this dog has been given a second chance through your choice. Be sure to give the best fresh start you can give, and it will undoubtedly be paid back in spades. You have just embarked on a life journey with a new friend, and the joy, frustration, and love they will bring to your life will change you forever!
The Calm K9 Can Help!
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you and your dog may need some help from a professional. The Calm K9 runs special dog board & train programs that can help resolve adult dog behavior issues. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us.